Christmas is upon us again


I do love Christmas, the smells, the candles, the trees and all the amazing food. I am originally from Norway, with a mother who came from Finland, so in our house we have to have three different Christmas meals! 

In Scandinavia we celebrate Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day. Trying to incorporate all the meals, we start Christmas on the 23rd, with the traditional Norwegian meal, that consists of three ingredients; old mutton ribs, swede mash and potatoes, washed down with a Norwegian potato spirit called Aquavit. It means water of life, I think it may wake the dead as it's an acquired taste, but works to numb the flavour of the mutton. Norway was a very poor country until the oil was discovered in the North Sea in the 1970. Norway is now a very rich country but the Christmas habits have remained the same. On the 24th we have our Finnish meal, this is ham with all the trimmings. As a dessert we have something called cloudberries, these are orange looking raspberries, but they only grow in the mountains, and have to be handpicked, which makes them rather expensive. By the time we get to the 25th I do cheat a bit and get the stuffing from M&S, and we never manage to fit in any Christmas pudding!


In the practice we see the seasonal ailments: a lot of chocolate poisoning, we make the dogs sick as long as we see them within three hours. Remember as little as 50 grams dark chocolate can kill a Labrador. Chocolate vomit is the most pleasant of the vomits, followed by christmas cake/ pudding/ mince pies vomit. Do remember that grapes and raisins are poisonous to dogs, unfortunately there are no set toxic levels. Some individuals have much more sensitive kidneys than others, and we have no test to predict which will be ok and who are at risk, so they end up staying on a drip for a few days whilst we monitor the kidneys.


In our feline friends we see an increase in cystitis. Cats are very sensitive to stress, to them any type of change is stressful. Christmas is full of change, weird decorations in the house, different smells, new people in the house. All of this contributes to the cats becoming stressed and this can manifest as cystitis. Females generally just feel uncomfortable and we sort them out rather easily, males however can end up unable to urinate. This will very quickly develop into an emergency situation where the cat is in excruciating pain, and can end up with kidney failure. If you see your cat straining, most people think they are constipated, however it is more common that they are unable to urinate, so make sure you check the litter tray for results.


Make sure nice smelling presents are kept out of reach of crafty dogs, and that cats are kept away from climbing the Christmas tree.


Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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