It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but also potentially hazardous for our beloved pets. Well-meaning family members may be inclined to treat our pets with titbits of festive food, but many human foods are not healthy or safe for our animals to consume. We will run down a list of some of the more dangerous foods and give some tips on how to approach family members who may not be aware of how harmful human food can be.
Cooked Poultry Bones
Although it may seem like a mouth-watering Christmas treat for our dogs and cats, cooked poultry bones are seriously dangerous if consumed. They can splinter easily when inside the stomach, creating sharp jagged edges that are prone to pierce. This will land you with a big vet bill at best and can be fatal at worst.
If you want to give your dog a bone this Christmas we always recommend bones larger than the dog's mouth, so that they can’t bear down and break sharp pieces off. Big roast knuckle bones that are made for gnawing, not consuming whole are best. Alternatively, raw marrow bones will keep a large dog entertained for hours. We have raw turkey, chicken and duck necks for cats and smaller dogs to enjoy.
This delicious treat is for humans only. Chocolate contains a compound called theobromine which affects the nervous system, cardiovascular system, and urination. In high doses, theobromine can be toxic to all species, including humans. Fortunately, we can metabolise the low dose of theobromine found in chocolate. Our pets, however, metabolise chocolate and cocoa much slower and therefore a healthy dose of chocolate for us can be toxic to animals.
Symptoms of theobromine poisoning are usually seen within 24 hours of consumption. The main signs are:
- Increased excitability/irritability
- Increased heart rate
- Increased urination
- Muscle tremors
We do have chocolate drops that are safe for dogs, as well as chocolate treats for small animals.
Raisins, sultanas & grapes
Ingestion of even a small amount of these fruits can cause kidney failure which could be fatal. So that means treating our pets to some Christmas pudding, Christmas cake or mince pies is a big no-no.
Other dried fruits like dates are not toxic to animals. However, too much dried fruit can upset digestive systems and cause diarrhea, so whilst they won’t need a trip to the vet they might not feel their best after overindulging.
Our pets can get drunk from alcohol consumption just like humans, but whilst we can choose to become intoxicated, our animals cannot. They would not know what on earth was happening to them and therefore it would be quite cruel of us as owners to allow our pets to become drunk for our own amusement. Our pet's kidneys are not cut out to process alcohol. They are also much smaller than us, and as such alcohol poisoning is a real danger.
If you would like your pet to join in the festivities without any risks, we have Bottom Sniffer beer for dogs and Pawsecco for dogs & cats for them to enjoy with 0% alcohol.
Just like children, too much sugar can cause hyperactivity in dogs and energy slumps. Dog’s on a healthy natural diet would not be used rich sugary foods so they could easily get an upset stomach from too many sugar-filled treats.
It’s already a busy time for our pets, with lots of noises and new faces to take in. Keeping them on a stable low sugar diet will help to keep their health and wellbeing in check during a potentially stressful time.
Pigs in blankets, crackling and salted nuts are all far too high in sodium to be healthy for pets. Too much salt in one go can cause serious health problems. Our pets are so much smaller than us, and what seems like a small portion for us could be toxic for our pets. Salt tends to cause dehydration in our pets so always make sure to have plenty of fresh water available if your pet has been given some salty snacks.
If you want a festive treat for your dog, we have safe pigs in blankets in our Christmas Range.
Xylitol is an artificial sweetener found in many low sugar sweets as well as chewing gum and peanut butter. It is highly toxic to pets and can cause vomiting, loss of coordination, seizures, and in severe cases, liver failure. It is always important to know what is in the peanut butter you feed to your dog. Low sugar is always best, but you must make sure that it doesn’t contain xylitol instead.
If you suspect that your pet has eaten any of the above foods, keep a close watch on them and look for any symptoms. If you think they are becoming ill, we recommend you get them to the vet asap. It is a good idea to have your vets out of hours phone number on hand over the festive period so that you can get advice over the phone in an emergency.
Tips for keeping harmful foods away from pets
- Give family and visitors a friendly reminder that you don’t want your pets eating anything other than their own food. You could have a bowl of treats specifically for the pets on hand for anyone who wants to give them a treat. This way you can portion control how much you put in the bowl. Children especially like to make friends with animals through food so make sure you point out this special bowl of treats to all the children you have around.
- Often a pet who has eaten chocolate over Christmas has stumbled across it on the floor. Big sharing chocolate boxes tend to be left on the floor with the lid off. If you can keep the chocolate out of reach, with the lids on, you will be at much lesser risk of your pet getting their paws where they aren’t supposed to.
- A quiet space away from the liveliness is often a welcome respite for our pets, and you can utilise this to keep them away from well-meaning visitors who like to feed titbits off their plates. You could set up a crate or bed in a room of the house that isn’t being used by visitors. If everything gets a bit hectic and you can’t keep an eye on your pet, you can take them to this room to rest and be safely out of the way.