Not all treats are created equally and there are many Christmas treats that are toxic for dogs. As with any Christmas, there are treats a plenty. It’s so tempting to include your dog in the festivities but some of those Christmas goodies are a big no-no for dogs.
During the Christmas festivities people tend to indulge themselves with the wonderful array of food that’s available and some love to indulge their pets too. Unfortunately, some foods such as chocolate, grapes and sultanas should be strictly off limits for pets, as well as anything with garlic, onion or chives as these food can have toxic effects on pets.
Let’s take a look at the foods that pets should avoid this Christmas and those that they can enjoy in moderation.
Christmas treats that are toxic for dogs
1. Don’t indulge pets with Christmas meats
While some feel that it is natural for dogs to eat bones, many vets are warning people not to feed their dog’s raw or cooked bones, as once bones have been chewed, they are likely to fracture. This could cause issues such as poking through the oesophagus and causing obstructions in the stomach and intestines. Raw bones also pose the risk of spreading Salmonella or causing teeth breakages due to their hardness.
A lot of Christmas meats are also high in fats and salts and should be avoided by pets as they are not optimum for their health. Too much high fat content meat can result in a bout of vomiting and diarrhoea. If your dog does suffer this reaction, you should monitor them closely, keep them well hydrated and see a if vet if their condition worsens.
2. Onions, garlic, leeks, shallots and chives
Onions, garlic, leeks, shallots and chives are all common ingredients in a Christmas feast. These vegetable belong to the plant family – Allium, which either cooked or uncooked are highly toxic to dogs. Ingestion of these may initially result in vomiting and diarrhoea but the main damage is the toxic effect it has on the red blood cells, which may result in anaemia. This may not be evident for several days after ingestion. It is therefore best for dogs to avoid foods that have been cooked with Allium containing ingredients, such as gravy and stuffing.
Christmas or not; chocolate is always a favourite but should always be avoided by dogs. Chocolate contains a chemical known as theobromine and has toxic effects on our canine friends including vomiting, diarrhoea, hyperactivity, tremors, seizures, problems with the heart and even death in severe cases. The darker the chocolate the higher the levels of theobromine while white chocolate doesn’t contain enough theobromine to cause toxicity. White chocolate should still be avoided though, as it is fatty and poses a potential risk of pancreatitis.
If your dog does happened to eat some chocolate it is advisable to seek veterinary treatment, no matter how small the quantity. Even small amounts have the potential to make a dog feel poorly. The American Kennel Club has further pointers on what to do if your dog does eat some chocolate.
4. Grapes, dried vine fruits and nuts
Once the main meal is done, out comes the Christmas pudding and mince pies for dessert. Unfortunately this is another course that the dogs will need to sit out of. Grapes and dried vine fruits such as currants, sultanas and raisins are all toxic to dogs and ingesting just a small amount can cause kidney failure.
Wag the dog uk describes that some nuts are also not for consumption by dogs. Almonds, walnuts, macadamias, pecans and pistachios should be avoided as at a minimum they will cause gastric intestinal upset or obstruction. Walnuts have even been known to cause seizures while macadamias can result in neurological issues.
5. Milk and dairy products
In small quantities, milk and dairy products are a safe treat for dogs. Many pups are lactose intolerant so large amounts of dairy can result in stomach upsets. Offer dairy in moderation if you know that your dog can tolerate it.
Ensure that all alcohol is kept out of reach of your furry friends, as a dog will often help himself to an unattended beverage. Dogs will have a similar experience to humans that have over indulged in alcohol. They will become wobbly and drowsy and in severe cases they run the risk of low body temperature, low blood sugar and coma.
7. Skip the leftovers
Most families tend to over cater for the Christmas day feast and will be working on eating the leftovers for days to come. This is another thing that our pets should not help with. Carefully dispose of any scraps and keep them out of reach from your four legged friend. The leftovers may include ingredients that are toxic to dogs or be growing mould (e.g. bread and cheese). Moulds can produce toxins that result in the rapid onset on convulsions in dogs.
8. Careful with the sweets
An artificial sweetener known as xylitol is common in Christmas sweets, as well as some peanut butters, chewing gum and dental hygiene products. Your dogs will find this extremely toxic and it can induce the release of insulin in the body, resulting in low blood sugar and sometimes liver damage. The prognosis is good if the low blood sugar is treated quickly.
9. So what treats can they eat?
While there are plenty of Christmas goodies for dogs to avoid, there are some safe treats that they can enjoy (always in moderation).
- Chicken and turkey meat that is free from skin and bones
- Lamb meat free from bones
- Salmon (fillets or cooked in spring water are better choice than smoked)
- Vegetables including green bean, Brussel sprouts, carrots, parsnips, peas, mashed potato and sweet potato
- While, still very high in fat, an occasional raw hide or pigs ear make a special treat for the festive period
Even at this special time of year, pets should be kept on their regular diet as much as possible. Treat you dog in moderation and limit the number of new foods as over indulgence can result in vomiting and diarrhoea. Enjoy a happy and healthy festive season together.