It’s not only teenagers who like to polish off your leftover Christmas drinks — dogs and cats are increasingly likely to try a tipple.
Pets are far more likely to get alcohol poisoning at this time of year because of drinks left lying around.
Vets also fear that pet owners have been deliberately giving alcoholic drinks to their animals so that they can post their inebriated antics on social media. Their size and weight means that they struggle to hold their drink.
The situation has become worse in recent years because people drink more at home than they used to, according to the Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS).
Last year vets treating pets who had suffered alcohol poisoning contacted the VPIS for advice on 26 occasions, up from five in 2000. So far this year there have been 18 cases reported to the service, which said that many cases went unreported, suggesting a far worse drinking problem.
“We can only report on cases we are called about. I suspect that vets see lots of cases of mild intoxications, but know what to expect and how to treat so they don’t call us. The actual number may therefore be much higher,” a spokesman said.
Small dogs such as cavalier king charles spaniels and scottish terriers are thought to be particularly vulnerable because they are agile but small so their bodies cannot tolerate alcohol.
A survey by Argos Pet Insurance suggested that a quarter of pet owners admitted that their dogs had drunk alcohol and a similar proportion of British vets said that they had treated a drunken dog.
Gudrun Ravetz, president of the British Veterinary Association, said: “Pets are inquisitive and will hunt out human food and drink that can be hazardous to their health. Dogs and other pets are far smaller than we are so their toxic levels are reached much quicker making any access to alcohol more dangerous.
“If a pet has access to alcohol it can lead to several serious health issues, from a distressed and disorientated pet who does not understand what’s happening to them, to seizures and even respiratory failure. If owners suspect their pet has consumed alcohol they should contact their vet immediately.”
•It could be the perfect Christmas Day riposte when your child asks why you didn’t buy them the latest computer game (writes Nadeem Badshah).
Traditional toys such as action figures or balls entertain youngsters as much as hi-tech gifts and represent better value for money, research suggests.
A survey by 118 118 Money, the loans company, found that outdoor toys, such as hula hoops, Frisbees and water pistols, were used 53 times a year on average, giving them a cost per play of 42p. Dolls, action figures and craft goods such as Play-Doh were the second best value, working out at 44p per play.
Games consoles were used the most, at 170 times a year, but represented the worst value, at £1.30 per play. Similarly, board games were not great-value presents, used only 25 times a year at a cost of £1.12 per play. Larger items like trampolines and playhouses had a cost-per-play average of £1.05.
More than 1,000 parents took part in the survey and Mark Burgess from 118 118 Money said the results showed that they should avoid expensive gifts and look for entertainment value. Gregg Varley, 41, a father-of-two from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, said he spent more than £150 on a trampoline. “They jumped around on it for about a week but now it’s just an eyesore full of leaves,” he told The Daily Telegraph.