Pet Hates at Christmas

New research unveiled by Tesco Bank today has found that 7 out of 10 pet owners are worried about their cat or dog eating something naughty over the festive period, yet 59% of them are feeding them something they shouldn’t unknowingly.

The survey found that despite pet owners worrying about visitors feeding their pets the wrong thing during the festive season (45%), a whopping 59% of dog owners have fed their dog cheese1, and 59% of cat owners have fed their cat tuna2. Perhaps more worryingly, 1 in 10 dog owners have fed their pet chocolate, which is toxic to dogs, and 19% of cat owners have fed their cat double cream, when they are naturally lactose intolerant.

Kerry Galbraith, Veterinary Nurse at vetfone, said;

"These are fairly common mistakes from pet owners at Christmas time, as people like to include their pet in the festivities, which sometimes means feeding them food that is meant for humans. However, our advice is not to feed dogs and cats human foods because unintentionally owners, thinking they are giving their pet a treat, can cause their pets to be ill or distressed.  For example, gravy contains levels of salt that can cause diarrhoea and gastro-enteritis, and Christmas pudding and mince pies have raisins in them, which can cause kidney failure in dogs."

Karl Bedlow, Managing Director for Tesco Bank Insurance, said, 

"Our customers have told us they are worried about what their pets eat this Christmas, which is why we include the vetfone service in every pet insurance policy. With emergency vet visits costing upwards of £1503, pet owners will be pleased to hear that vetfone is open 24/7 – including on Christmas day – and they can provide advice on caring for your pet if they eat something they shouldn’t and become unwell. This service lets pet owners speak to a qualified RCVS veterinary nurse 24/7, without incurring any additional costs. We hope that the vetfone® service will help give our customers’ peace of mind over the festive season."

Vetfone® is a 24/7 helpline that provides expert advice from nurses qualified with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. The phone line provides advice about pets if they have a medical emergency, or just if the owner needs reassurance about grooming, feeding or general care advice. Additionally, customers with a pet insurance policy can call about any animal they own – not just the one insured. Tesco Bank pet insurance customers get unlimited freephone access to vetfone® included as part of their policy.

Dogs are top at Christmas

The research also found that Brits go pet crazy at Christmas, with 83% of pet owners buying their pet a Christmas present, and 34% of people buying themselves or another member of the household a present from their pet to add to their Christmas stocking. However, dogs seem to be top at Christmas, as they are more likely to receive a gift than cats (86% vs 80%), twice as likely to have a Christmas outfit (16% vs 8%) and much more likely to receive clothes as a Christmas gift (15% vs 6%).

A Tesco Bank customer said; “Prior to owning a dog I thought buying gifts for and from a dog was totally pathetic. However, they very quickly stop being just a dog, then just as quickly they stop being a pet, and before you can say ‘Christmas cracker’ they have become part of the family and you treat them as if they were exactly that!”

With 5 out of 10 customers signing their pet’s name on some or all of their annual cards, Tesco Bank Pet Insurance has decided to return the favour this year, by sending Tesco Bank pets a festive card. Included in the card will be £2.50 of vouchers to spend in the pet aisles, so owners don’t forget the furriest member of their family this Christmas.

More information about Tesco Bank Pet Insurance and vetfone® can be found at;


For more information and media enquiries please contact:

Tesco Bank press office

+44 (0) 131 274 3630 

Notes to Editors: 

Tesco Bank Pet Insurance is arranged, administered and underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc. The vetfone service is provided by Vetsdirect Limited. Pets must be at least 8 weeks old when cover starts and pre-existing medical conditions are not covered.  Certain breeds of cat and dog are also not covered.

Research undertaken by eDigital Research on behalf of Tesco Bank. Data generated between 21 and 24th November (1020 responses)

1Dogs and Cats are naturally lactose intolerant, and so dairy products can cause vomiting and diarrhoea

2Canned tuna intended for human consumption contains an enzyme that destroys vitamin B1, which is essential for cats, and also contains high levels of mercury, which can cause mercury poisoning.

3MoneySupermarket estimates if your animal is injured in a road accident at night or at the weekend, you might have to pay a supplement of up to £150 for emergency treatment – and if it involves an overnight stay at the practice, the bill could run to £500. The average cost of surgery is £1,500 and an ongoing treatment such as chemotherapy could come in at £5,000.

About Us:

Tesco Bank’s goal is to make banking and insurance easier and better value for people who shop at Tesco. We’ve been around since 1997 and today we help more than 5 million customers manage their money every day. Our 4,000 colleagues serve our customers seven days a week from our three main centres in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle, and we are also available through online and mobile banking 24/7. Tesco Bank participates in the Chartered Banker Professional Standards Board.

Tesco Bank is a trading name of Tesco Personal Finance plc. Registered in Scotland No. SC173199. Registered Office: 2 South Gyle Crescent, Edinburgh, EH12 9FQ


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