According to vets, Christmas is one of the most dangerous times of the year for pets. In 2008, the PDSA alone treated 15,600 ill and injured pets over the Christmas period. With the average vet bill currently standing at almost £300, there could be a sting in the tail for owners too – so it pays to be prepared.

Dog-owner Emma Fothergill discovered all this to her cost last Christmas. Lottie, Emma’s beloved one-year-old cocker spaniel, managed to sneak into an upstairs room and have her doggy way with the family’s Christmas presents.

Emma said: “She managed to get upstairs and raided the presents hidden under the bed in the spare room without any of us hearing. We found her looking very guilty with her head hanging down and chocolate all round her face! After a little bit of hunting, we found a completely empty box of chocolates amongst all the other presents, which were untouched. Most of the wrappers had been eaten too. I was cross at first but couldn’t help but laugh at the hang dog look on her face. Little did we know what was to come.”

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