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Press Office

9th December 2009

Petplan Warns of Holiday Hazards

Slimming clubs and doctors’ surgeries experience some of their longest queues after the excesses of Christmas and New Year, but research suggests that Britain’s veterinary surgeries are also feeling the strain as the nation’s podgy pets pig out on a range of festive foods.

Research carried out by Petplan, the UK’s leading pet insurance provider, shows that vets are becoming increasingly worried about overfeeding. More than half of the vets surveyed say that they have seen pets who have suffered illness because of food consumption at Christmas, and a quarter of the vets said that the majority of food-related cases they saw were caused by the owners over-feeding their pet.

This has been backed up by pet owners themselves with 54% admitting to feeding their pets Christmas dinner while 15% say that their pet’s diet changes during the entire Christmas holiday period.

Younger pet owners are revealed to be the guiltiest: 20% of 18 to 24 year olds confessed to overfeeding their pet during the festive season. But it’s not just humans who are at fault: nearly a quarter (23%) of owners reported that their pets had helped themselves to Christmas leftovers.

Of the vets Petplan spoke to, 92% listed chocolate as being the main cause of problems and 69% also identified turkey. A whole array of other naughty treats also cropped up, including pudding, cheese, vegetables and even alcohol.

However, it is not just food that can cause problems to pets over the winter period. If pets are exposed to antifreeze or road salt this could mean a trip to the vet.

Most brands of anti-freeze contain ethylene glycol which tempts pets with its sweet smell and appealing taste. Unfortunately, it is also extremely poisonous and a small animal only needs to lap up a small amount to be affected.

Dangers occur from spillages when topping up the car, bottles being left open or with loose caps which could be tipped over and lapped up.

The other winter hazard for dogs in particular is road salt which can be extremely irritating to footpads drying them to a point where paws split open and bleed. Dogs will also lick off road salt and this can cause stomach problems.

Ben Jones, Petplan’s Vet of the Year says, “It’s important to keep your pet to a regular diet and avoid treats such as chocolate. Remember the best Christmas present to give your pets is lots of cuddles and exercise.”

Top Holiday Hazards for your pet to avoid:

  • Chocolate
  • Antifreeze/Roadsalt
  • Leftover Christmas dinner including bones
  • Grapes
  • Alcohol

Notes to editors

Petplan is the largest pet insurance provider in the world, offering comprehensive lifetime pet insurance cover for dogs, cats and rabbits.

Established more than 30 years ago, it is part of Allianz Insurance, one of the largest general insurers in the UK.

For more information about Petplan cat insurance, please visit:

For more information about Petplan dog insurance, please visit: