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Keeping your pets safe and well in the holiday season

Beatrice Smith

What are the top three most deadly foods for dogs? Chocolate? Coffee? Cooked bones?

What about avocado, grapes or macadamia nuts? These three foods can be just as harmful to your dog as the most well-known antagonists, but what else do they have in common? They’ll probably all be a part of your Christmas spread.

This isn’t meant to be a morbid warning – but if the worst were to happen and your dog spends Christmas Night pigging out on some delicious grapes left behind by a wandering toddler, where would you take them?

Luckily, according to Fiona Lewis from the Animal Referral Hospital (ARH), it’s a common misconception that pet services are closed over Christmas.

“Just like us, our pets often require urgent medical care when our regular GP or Vet is closed,” she explains. “As the Animal Referral Hospital already provides full 24-hour care for our specialist surgical and medical patients, it’s fully prepared and available for all emergency cases as needed over Christmas and the summer holidays.”

Fiona says that summertime can be one of the ARH’s busiest times, when the combination of heat, snakes and entertaining with dog unfriendly foods can become a dangerous combination.

“We find our Emergency Service is considerably busier during summer in comparison to the winter months,” she explains. “Summer is a time when we are all active and generally outdoors. The heat of summer and the time we spend running around, playing and enjoying the outdoors can often cause a range of medical and surgical conditions in our pets.”

Most of these conditions can be prevented through being educated, aware and vigilant. Fiona says there a few key things to keep in mind to prevent a trip to the vet or ARH this summer.

“Brachcycephalic dog breeds such as Pugs, Boston Terriers and Shih Tzu’s struggle with breathing issues in the hot summer weather. These dogs are more likely to require medical or even surgical intervention in the summer due to their breathing issues,” says Fiona.

“Dogs in particular suffer from heat stress. PLEASE never leave your dog in the car.”

Summertime brings snakes out and if bitten, these conditions in particular require urgent intervention and supportive care.

“In Canberra, snake bites are a major cause of presentation at the emergency centre,” says Fiona. “Please call ahead to the ARH to let us know if your dog has been bitten. We will be prepared and waiting. Time is critical in these cases.”

If you head off to the coast, beware of ticks. Fiona says there are a number of excellent preventative medications now available which your regular vet can provide advice on.

“You still need to keep a close watch on your pets and at the first sign of tick paralysis go straight to your nearest vet or to ARH.”

If your pet does need to see a vet or specialist this summer, Fiona says the ARH’s options are comprehensive and specialised and their central location (just off Canberra Avenue in Fyshwick) means they’re accessible for all Canberrans.

“The services provided by ARH include Specialist surgical care, medicine and Critical Care, Emergency care, Oncology, Neurology and Radiology,” she explains.

“ARH is the only place in Canberra that has Specialist surgeons on call 24/7. Our Emergency service is always open including public holidays and Christmas. We are just like the Canberra Hospital for your pets!”

Fiona also says that educating yourself and your family (even the ones coming from interstate!) on what foods and common household items are not pet-friendly before the Christmas celebrations start can also be a literal lifesaver.






If your pet needs emergency veterinary care, call the Animal Referral Hospital immediately on 6280 6344.  

the essentials

What: The Animal Referral Hospital Canberra
Where: 2 Yallourn Street, Fyshwick (just off Canberra Avenue)
When: Open 24/7, even on Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year’s
Phone: 6280 6344

This is a sponsored editorial. For more information on sponsored editorials, click here


Beatrice Smith

Bea loves that her job as HerCanberra’s Online Editor involves eating, drinking and interviewing people - sometimes simultaneously. The master of HerCanberra’s publishing schedule, she’s usually found hunched over a huge calendar muttering to herself about content balance. Otherwise, you’ll find her at the movies or ordering a cheese board. More about the Author

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