Careless pet owners face 13m vet bill at Christmas with animals wolfing everything from turkey carcasses to tinsel
Emergency veterinary bills for Christmas accidents total millions of poundsRisks include pets eating decorations, burns from fairy lights and swallowing tinsel
Bills reach 3,000 to remove a swallowed plastic bauble, 1,200 if they wolf the turkey and 700 to treat a dog for eating chocolates left under the tree

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UPDATED:

20:54 GMT, 1 December 2012

They are often the most pampered members of the family, lavished with love and treats on Christmas Day.

But pet owners have been warned that there could be a price for the festivities – with emergency veterinary bills for Christmas accidents totalling millions of pounds.

Last December insurers paid out 13 million – with the most common mishaps involving pets eating dangerous items, from decorations to chocolates left under the tree.

Milo and the wishbone vets removed from his throat last Christmas

Don't give a dog a bone: Milo and the wishbone vets removed from his throat last Christmas

Other risks include burns from fairy lights, cuts from glass ornaments that break and swallowing tinsel.

Bills could reach 3,000 to remove a swallowed plastic bauble; 1,200 for anaesthetic to ease constipation caused by eating a turkey carcass; or 700 a day to put a dog on a drip after devouring chocolate, which poisons them.

Tilly is healthy again after 2,000 surgery for swallowing a bone

Back on her feet: Tilly is healthy again after 2,000 surgery for swallowing a bone

Lisa and Neil Hilder were landed with
bills totalling 2,000 last year after their dog, Tilly, swallowed a
sharp piece from a bone they had given her as a Christmas present.

‘She had broken bits off and ended up
swallowing a very pointed piece,’ said Lisa, of Worthing, West Sussex.
X-rays showed it was lodged inside her and she could not be made to be
sick or pass it naturally, so she required emergency surgery to save
her life.

Lisa added: ‘It
was quite nerve-racking and upsetting. We were worried as we didn’t know
whether she would pull through. It was a very anxious couple of hours
for us.’

Debbie Bird also
had a stressful time last Christmas after her six-month-old Jack
Russell, Milo, ate a discarded chicken wishbone that became lodged in
his throat.

He required an endoscopy, an expensive two-hour operation and several days’ recovery at the PDSA PetAid hospital in Aston, Birmingham.

Nurse Julie Everall said: ‘It was in such an awkward place that we couldn’t just pull it out. Dogs eating items that they shouldn’t is a common problem at this time of year.’

Sarah Davies’s ten-year-old black labrador Wise Guy also fell ill last year after eating a tin of Quality Street – including the foil wrappers.

‘We realised he looked a bit unwell and kept going into the garden,’ said Sarah, 36, from Swansea.

‘Luckily, he ended up passing it all naturally, but we were so worried as chocolate can be lethal.’

Vet Brian Faulkner, from insurer Petplan, said: ‘Pets don’t know what’s hazardous and what’s not.

Fairy lights

Christmas decorations

Costly Christmas: Last December insurers paid out 13million with the most common mishaps involving pets eating dangerous items such as Christmas ornaments or being burned by fairy lights

They also won’t think twice about destroying your perfectly decorated tree if there is something on it that interests them.’

An RSPCA spokeswoman said last night: ‘Christmas can be a particularly stressful and dangerous time of year for a pet.

'A Christmas dinner can prove fatal to animals if they ingest things like chocolate, raisins and turkey bones.

'Decorations such as tinsel and baubles are also a choking hazard. Keep a close eye on animals.’