VETS have issued a plea for owners not to risk killing their pets with kindness - or put avoidable dangers in their way - this Christmas.

The team at Ashlea Veterinary Centre, which is based on Port Road Business Park, Carlisle, says it’s prepared for a flurry of cases of pets being brought in after suffering illness or injury.

In the run up to Christmas, most homes are full of extra food and drink and there are more cases of potentially fatal poisoning than at any other time of year, with cats and dogs rushed in after eating foods that are toxic or dangerous to pets.

Common emergencies include dogs choking or suffering internal damage from turkey bones, and pets being poisoned by chocolate, mince pies, Christmas cake and pudding, while over feeding fatty food can damage your pet’s pancreas or cause gastroenteritis.

Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine which is toxic to dogs, while raisins, currants and sultanas in mince pies and Christmas cake are also poisonous. Other festive hazards include poinsettias, pine needles, holly berries and mistletoe, which can all cause illness if eaten.

In recent years, pets have also been brought into Ashlea Vets after eating or chewing decorations like tinsel, twinkling lights and toys on the tree.

Clinical director Kirsty Barker said: “During December, we see many cases of pets that have eaten something they shouldn’t have and the number increases as we get closer to Christmas Day.“We see a lot of examples of poisoning over the festive period. In most cases, the owner was completely unaware of the hidden dangers and was simply intending to be kind to their pet.

“You don’t want a poorly pet or a trip to the vets on Christmas Day. Even worse, would be losing a pet over the festive period, so we urge owners to be extra careful.

“We see a lot of cases of dogs stealing the Christmas turkey or taking chocolate from the under the tree, so it is important to keep food and treats out of reach of pets.”

While many people hope for a white Christmas, vets are urging pet owners and car owners alike to be vigilant with antifreeze, which is highly toxic and most often fatal if consumed. Cats often walk through the substance and then lick it off their paws, causing poisoning.

Taking a few simple steps to keep pets safe can prevent festive fun turning sour, but owners should also be prepared for the worst if accidents happen.

Kirsty added: “If your pet eats something it shouldn’t, contact your vet straight away and make sure you provide a full report on what has been eaten, how much and when. The faster we can see a pet, the better so we can induce vomiting if necessary and assess the level of toxicity.”

“If your pet is a scavenger, it may be best to keep any left overs in a cupboard out of reach. It is recommended that owners pet-proof presents that are under the tree as we see a lot of cases where pets have sniffed them out and eaten them.”