Labrador and white cat snuggle under Christmas blanket

Some Christmas foods are toxic for dogs and cats

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Keep your pet safe this Christmas: Foods and decorations to avoid

By Ashley Murphy Content Writer

Updated on the

As being part of the family, dogs and cats should enjoy Christmas as much as we do, and most importantly, they should stay safe.

The holiday season is here! It's that wonderful time of year when we can switch off and spend some quality time with those we love most, including our furriest family members. But to make sure this festive season is another happy one, you need to be aware of the Christmas dangers for pets. 

We'll look at what Christmas foods are off the pet's menu, as well as some top tips to keep your cats and dogs safe over the holidays.

What shouldn't you give your pet for Christmas?

As a general rule, you shouldn't give your dog or cat any festive food over the Christmas period or at any other time of the year. Raisins, grapes, macadamia nuts, and dark or white chocolate are all poisonous to dogs. Just a small amount of these foods can cause vomiting and diarrhoea. Larger portions can lead to serious health problems, including kidney failure. And in many cases, chocolate toxicity can be life-threatening.

It's a good idea to keep these foods in containers and stashed away when you can't watch your pets. Cats are geniuses when it comes to sneaking 'treats' and dogs are very good at raiding counters when given the chance!

Are mince pies bad for dogs?

Mince pies contain raisins, grapes, sultanas, and currants, which are all highly toxic to dogs (and cats). If ingested, they can lead to kidney failure. Never feed your dog mince pies.

List of dangerous Christmas foods and drinks for pets

Several other Christmas foods pose a danger to cats and dogs. Make sure you keep an eye on your animal and the food that is either on the table or in the kitchen. Here are some Christmas foods your dog or cat shouldn't get a taste of:

  • Chocolate
  • Christmas pudding and mince pies
  • Grapes and dried vine fruits (currants, sultanas, raisins)
  • Onions, garlic, shallots and chives
  • Leek
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Artificial sweeteners also called xylitol
  • Cooked bones
  • Corn
  • Fatty foods
  • And it goes without saying that alcohol is for pet owners and not their furry friends.

Which Christmas leftovers can I give my dog?

But Fido doesn't have to miss out on all the festive fun. Tasty leftovers like carrots, green beans, turkey meat (without the bones), and plain mash potatoes can make the perfect Christmas dog dinner. Just make sure you remove all the bones and skin from the meat.

Are poinsettias dangerous to pets?

Like many house plants, poinsettias are poisonous to cats and dogs. The milky sap contains chemicals called diterpenoid and phorbol, as well as saponin detergents. If ingested by a cat or dog, these chemicals usually cause stomach upset and associated symptoms, like vomiting, diarrhoea, and excess drooling.

List of poisonous plants for pets

  • Lillies
  • Tulips
  • Azalea

Several other common houseplants are toxic to pets. Make sure they're always out of paws reach to keep your pet safe.

Christmas decorations

Some cats love climbing Christmas trees. If you've got one of these adventurous kitties, go easy on the Christmas tree decorations. If there's too much tinsel and ribbon, your cat could get themselves tangled up. The same goes for fairy lights. Plus, some curious kitties and dogs like to chew on the wires. And if they bite through, they could get a nasty burn or electric shock.

Christmas presents   

Pets owners should always clear up crepe and wrapping paper while opening up Christmas presents. Most wrapping paper is treated with chlorine and bleach. Again, this is toxic if ingested by a cat or dog. What's more, it can get stuck in the stomach or intestines, causing dangerous blockages. These usually require expensive surgery to correct. But, more importantly, they'll put your pets life at risk.

And keep eyes peeled for any small packages of silica gel. Silica gel packets absorb moisture, helping keep new clothes, shoes, and some foods fresh. But silica gel is not for human or animal consumption. The gel isn't particularly toxic, but the package it comes is a choke and blockage hazard.

What to do if you think your dog has eaten something it shouldn't have 

If you think your dog has eaten something they shouldn't have, contact a vet immediately. Call them up, explain the situation, and follow any advice. If the vet isn't available over the Christmas holidays, call an emergency pet service.

Don't wait for the food or object to pass through your dog's system. It could cause some serious damage along the way.

Things to tell your vet

Pet owners should give the vet as much information as possible. Tell them what your pet has eaten, including how much and when. You should also tell them about any symptoms or changes in behaviour, no matter how small. The vet will also need to know about any underlying health issues your pet has, such as allergies or low blood sugar, etc.

Now that you know what to look out for over the holidays, it's time to have yourself a very paw-some Christmas with your pets! The only thing you have to worry about is what presents to get them! Here's a big hint: treats always go down well. Plus, you know exactly what you'll get in return - some special festive licks and snuggles. And what more could any of us ask for?

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