More than half of dog owners spent up to £150 on vet bills at Christmas

The RSPCA advises people to ensure they have pet insurance and avoid unwelcome vet bills this Christmas.

Pet owners could find themselves having to shell out hundreds of pounds over the festive season if their animal has an unexpected accident or swallows anything from chocolate tinsel, dried fruit or turkey bones. From scoffing mince pies to tearing down the tree, it seems out pets can sometimes cause a calamity at Christmas time.

The RSPCA is therefore urging pet owners to be prepared for any emergencies which arise over Christmas – and to ensure that the festive time is as non-stressful as possible for our fluffy friends.

A previous survey by the RSPCA showed that of the owners polled, 56% of dog owners and 53% of cat owners admitted that they have previously spent up to £150 at the vets over the festive period.

Encouragingly, out of those asked about Christmas calamities, 69% of both the dog and cat owners said they did have insurance for their pets at the time, but 31% didn’t.

Caroline Allen, Chief Veterinary Officer at the RSPCA, said: “Christmas is such a busy time of year for most people and with so much food around, it can sometimes be too tempting to family pets who can’t help but sneak a tasty morsel from the table, or use their best puppy eyes to get some tidbits. However, it is really important to be careful as some human food can be toxic to pets, and food which differs from their normal diet could give them an upset stomach.

“Most pet owners know that chocolate and onions should never be given to dogs and if your dog does accidently eats these foods you should ring your vet straight away for advice. However, less well-known is that raisins, currants and sultanas – commonly added to festive bakes – can also be extremely dangerous to dogs. Popular festive plants, including poinsettias, holly, ivy, mistletoe can be mildly toxic, so avoid these if you have pets.

“Tinsel and wrapping paper might be tempting for your pet to play with – but make sure they don’t eat it. It’s important to keep an eye on what they’re eating to avoid any unwanted surprises. There will be on-call vets over the festive period so if something does happen to your pet, do not panic, there will be an emergency vet there to help you and your furry friend.

“We would advise checking with your vet in advance of the Christmas period as to their opening hours and where to go if your pet is taken unwell outside of normal working hours. The cost of vets out of hours can be a real concern for pet owners, with people often not realising how much vet treatments and procedures actually cost. There is no NHS for pets, so vital veterinary care can end up costing owners hundreds even thousands of pounds. Making sure you have pet insurance is vital at any time of year but it particularly gives owners peace of mind over the Christmas period that their pet will be covered if a calamity happens.”

For more tips and pet advice, you can visit the RSPCA’s website.