It’s easy to get swept up in all the festive excitement and want to treat your dog to a bite of stuffing or a nibble of your mince pie on Christmas day – but resist those puppy eyes at all costs.
Part of being a responsible dog-owner is knowing what not to feed them. Certain foods can lead to illness, seizures and even death, so it’s always best to avoid sharing titbits from your plate if you don’t know for certain whether it’s safe.
We’ve teamed up with the Blue Cross to reveal the forbidden foods that could do more than just add to your dog’s waistline. But don’t get rid of that puppy place setting just yet – we also list the safe foods that you can chuck into your dog’s bowl before you start the big wash-up.
Indulging your pet once in a while is great, but make sure it’s getting everything it needs from its diet by feeding it from one of the best dog food brands.
The most dangerous Christmas foods for dogs
Onions, garlic, leeks, shallots and chives belong to the allium plant family, which is poisonous to dogs. These can cause sickness and, more worryingly, damage to the red blood cells, which can lead to anaemia. So definitely no stuffing for Fido!
Macadamia nuts should be stored well away from prying paws. They can cause lethargy, increased body temperature, tremor, lameness and stiffness.
Chocolate contains theobromine, a chemical which is toxic to dogs and can cause agitations, tremors and problems with the heart. The darker the chocolate the more potent the theobromine levels become. White chocolate doesn’t contain enough to be toxic but will still make your dog feel sick.
Mince pies and Christmas puddings contain grapes and dried fruits such as currants, sultanas and raisins that are highly toxic to dogs. Even small amounts can cause severe kidney failure.
Artificial sweetener xylitol can induce the release of insulin, resulting in low blood sugar and sometimes liver damage. Xylitol is found in lots of things including sweets, baked goods and peanut butter. Always check the ingredients.
Leftovers. Some dogs can sniff out a mouthful of cheese a mile off, so make sure you keep your leftovers well out of reach. Mould that grows in foods such as yoghurt, bread and cheese can produce toxins that cause convulsions in dogs.
And it’s not just foods you need to be careful of. Some Christmas plants can cause vomiting and stomach upsets, including:
- Poinsettia – stomach irritation and sometimes vomiting.
- Holly – may result in a stomach upset.
- Mistletoe – may result in a stomach upset.
- Christmas trees – a mild stomach upset if dogs eat pine needles, but the sharp tip can cause more damage internally.
- Ivy – can cause a stomach upset. Where there is prolonged skin contact, Hedera species can also cause both irritant and allergic contact dermatitis.
Still thinking of what to to buy your pet this Christmas? Here’s some gift ideas for cats and dogs.
What to do if your dog eats something it shouldn’t
What you need to do depends on what and how much your dog’s eaten. So it’s always best to get professional advice straight away.
Caroline Reay, senior vet at Blue Cross, said: ‘The festive season presents a world of hidden dangers to our pets, from toxic foods to dangerous seasonal plants.
Even small amounts can cause serious problems for our pets. So if they do eat or drink anything they shouldn’t over the holidays, then do contact your vet for advice as soon as possible.’
What can dogs eat at Christmas?
It’s not all bad news for pooches. There are still plenty of delicious safe foods that they can tuck into, including:
- Turkey meat (no skin or bones)
- Salmon (fillets or cooked in spring water are preferable to smoked salmon)
- Lamb meat (no bones)
- Scrambled egg
- Green beans
- Brussels sprouts
- Mashed potato (best without additional butter)
- New potatoes
- Sweet potatoes
If your dog has health issues or allergies, make sure you check with your vet that the foods above are safe to eat.
Get prepared for the Christmas walk by investing in one of the best dog harnesses for 2019.