Furry Friend Festive Survival Guide
Toxic Christmas Foods for Dogs and Cats
Avoiding a Christmas Cat-astrophe 😸
Christmas is a time of joy and celebration, but also a time of potential danger for our furry friends. Many of the festive foods we enjoy can be harmful or even fatal to dogs and cats. Here is a guide to some of the most common foods to avoid giving your pets this Christmas:
Chocolate is one of the most toxic foods for dogs and cats, as it contains a substance called theobromine, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, heart problems, and even death. The darker the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains, and the more dangerous it is. Keep all chocolate out of your pets’ reach, including chocolate coins, advent calendars, and wrapped presents.
Grapes and Dried Fruits
Grapes and dried fruits, such as raisins, currants, and sultanas, can cause severe kidney failure in dogs and cats. These fruits are often found in Christmas pudding, mince pies, and fruit cake, so make sure your pets don’t get a taste of these desserts. Even a small amount can be fatal, so contact your vet immediately if you suspect your pet has eaten any.
Pigs in blankets
Pigs in blankets are a popular side dish for Christmas dinner, but they are not very healthy for dogs and cats. They are high in fat and salt, which can cause gastrointestinal problems or pancreatitis in pets. They may also contain herbs or spices that are irritating to pets, such as sage, garlic, or onion. Pigs in blankets are not toxic to pets, but they should be given in moderation, and only as an occasional treat. If you want to share some with your pets, make sure they are cooked well, and remove any excess fat or salt.
Mince pies are a traditional Christmas treat, but they are toxic to dogs and cats. The main reason is that they contain dried fruits, such as raisins, currants, and sultanas, which can cause severe kidney failure in pets. Even a small amount can be fatal, so contact your vet immediately if you suspect your pet has eaten any. Mince pies may also contain other ingredients that are harmful to pets, such as chocolate, alcohol, xylitol, or nuts. Keep mince pies out of your pets’ reach, and don’t leave any food unattended on the table, counter, or floor.
Onions and Garlic
Onions, garlic, and other members of the allium family, such as leeks, shallots, and chives, are poisonous to dogs and cats, whether cooked or raw. They can damage the red blood cells and cause anemia, which can be life-threatening. Avoid feeding your pets any foods that contain these ingredients, such as stuffing, gravy, or sauces.
Food stuffing is a delicious side dish for humans, but it can be dangerous for dogs and cats. Food stuffing often contains onions, garlic, sage, or other ingredients that are toxic to pets. They can cause anemia, gastrointestinal upset, or pancreatitis. Avoid feeding your pets any food stuffing or any foods that contain these ingredients.
Roast potatoes are another staple of Christmas dinner, but they are not very nutritious for dogs and cats. They are high in fat and salt, which can cause stomach upset or pancreatitis in pets. They may also contain oil or butter that are not suitable for pets, such as lard, goose fat, or dripping. Roast potatoes are not toxic to pets, but they should be given in moderation, and only as an occasional treat. If you want to share some with your pets, make sure they are cooked well, and use a vegetable oil that is low in saturated fat, such as rapeseed or sunflower oil.
Alcohol can have a similar effect on dogs and cats as it does on humans, but much worse. It can cause vomiting, diarrhea, disorientation, breathing difficulties, coma, and even death. Never give your pets any alcoholic drinks, such as wine, beer, or spirits, or any foods that contain alcohol, such as rum balls, brandy butter, or eggnog.
Nuts are a common snack during the festive season, but some of them are poisonous to dogs and cats. Macadamia nuts, black walnuts, and old or moldy walnuts are very toxic to pets, and can cause vomiting, tremors, weakness, and neurological problems. Other nuts, such as cashews, pistachios, and peanuts, are not toxic, but they are high in fat and salt, and can cause stomach upset or pancreatitis in pets. Avoid feeding your pets any nuts, or any foods that contain nuts, such as cookies, cakes, or chocolates.
Xylitol is a sugar-free sweetener that is often used in candies, gums, baked goods, and toothpaste. It can cause a rapid drop in blood sugar, seizures, liver failure, and even death in dogs and cats. Always check the labels of any products you buy and keep them out of your pets’ reach.
Other foods to avoid
There are many other foods that can cause problems for your pets, such as fatty, salty, or spicy foods, cheese, cream, nuts, bones, coffee, tea, and artificial sweeteners. These foods can cause stomach upset, pancreatitis, choking, or other complications. It is best to stick to your pets’ normal diet or give them some plain, cooked meat, fish, eggs, or vegetables as a treat.
What to do if your pet eats something toxic
If you think your pet has eaten something they shouldn’t, contact your vet immediately. Do not try to make your pet vomit, as this can cause more harm than good. Try to find out what and how much your pet has eaten, and keep the packaging or label if possible. Your vet will advise you on the best course of action and treatment.
Toxic Christmas Plants to Dogs and Cats
Pine trees are a common sight during Christmas, but they can pose a threat to your pets. The needles can cause irritation, puncture, or obstruction in the mouth, throat, stomach, or intestines. The oils can also cause liver damage or death. The water in the tree stand can also contain bacteria, mold, or fertilizer, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, or poisoning. Keep your pets away from the pine tree and the water, and sweep up any fallen needles regularly.
Poinsettia is a popular Christmas plant, but it is toxic to dogs and cats. The white sap contains chemicals that can cause irritation, drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. The symptoms are usually mild and self-limiting, but in rare cases, they can be severe or allergic. Keep your pets away from the poinsettia plant and contact your vet if they ingest any part of it.
Holly is another festive plant that is poisonous to dogs and cats. The leaves, berries, and stems contain toxins that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and depression. The berries can also cause seizures, coma, or death. Keep your pets away from the holly plant and contact your vet if they ingest any part of it.
Mistletoe is a traditional Christmas plant that is used for decoration and kissing, but it is also toxic to dogs and cats. The leaves, berries, and stems contain toxins that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, difficulty breathing, and cardiac problems. The berries can also cause seizures, coma, or death. Keep your pets away from the mistletoe plant and contact your vet if they ingest any part of it.
How to keep your pets safe this Christmas
The best way to prevent your pets from eating something toxic is to keep all dangerous foods out of their reach. Store them in sealed containers, high up, or in a locked cupboard. Don’t leave any food unattended on the table, counter, or floor. Dispose of any wrappers, bones, or leftovers safely. Supervise your pets around the Christmas tree and decorations, and make sure they don’t chew on any wires, tinsel, or ornaments. Provide your pets with plenty of fresh water, toys, and attention, and make sure they have a quiet and comfortable place to rest.
We hope this guide has helped you to keep your pets safe and healthy this Christmas. Remember to avoid giving them any toxic or harmful foods or plants, and to contact your vet if you notice any signs of poisoning or illness. Christmas is a time to celebrate with your loved ones, and that includes your furry friends. Give them plenty of love, attention, and treats, and enjoy the festive season together. We wish you and your pets a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 🎄🐶🐱
This blog post was originally written on 25/12/23 and updated on 05/02/24.