One of the best things about Christmas is the food – but this isn’t the case for dogs .
It’s tempting to feed out furry friends the treats we enjoy most, without realising that it could be extremely dangerous for them to eat them.
Vets are urging pet owners to keep their dogs on their usual diets this festive season, using their normal kibble or treats if you do want extra bonding time.
This should also avoid any near misses, with dogs eating ‘human food’ that could be poisonous to them.
A recent survey, created by Burgess Pet Care, has highlighted the most dangerous Christmas foods for your pets during the festive period.From leftover Christmas dinner, Christmas pudding and Yule logs, through to chocolate boxes, nuts and alcohol, Burgess Pet Care’s in-house vet Dr Suzanne Moyes, shares the most dangerous foods for dogs and why you should keep your pets away from them:
Advent calendars and other chocolate treatsChocolate was the most common items that dogs had been found to steal at this time of year, in particular Terry’s Chocolate Orange, Quality Street, and Roses.
Dr Suzanne says: ‘Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, which can be toxic for dogs and cats as it affects their heart and nervous system. The theobromine is also toxic to small animals, so remember to keep foods like chocolate boxes, tubs and desserts away from your pets.’
Research what type of pet is best suited for your family’s personality and lifestyle. Dogs require more attention, time and energy than cats do, so if you don’t enjoy walks or hikes in the outdoors, or can’t imagine getting up on cold winter mornings to take your pet out to potty, a cat may be more your style.
Fruit and Nuts
’Hidden dried fruit, sultanas, currants, raisins and nuts in our favourite festive foods, such as Christmas pudding, cake and mince pies, can be toxic and cause fatal kidney problems for dogs,’ says Dr Suzanne.
‘Nut packets that contain macadamia nuts have an unknown toxin, which can affect the digestive and nervous systems, as well as the muscles in all pets. Nuts are also high in fat, not in fibre, so are difficult for our small animals to digest.’
If you’re leaving out bowls of nuts for guests, make sure they’re out of your dog’s reach.
Sugary Christmas desserts
Dr Suzanne says: ‘Giving sugar to your dogs and cats can lead to obesity, dental problems and possibly diabetes mellitus in the long term. In the short term, what is intended as a treat can cause vomiting and diarrhoea.’
It’s not exactly Christmassy having to clean all that up.
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Cheese and other dairy products
Despite the fact many dogs and cats love cheese and milk, they’re actually not supposed to consume them.
‘Dogs and cats unfortunately do not have a sufficient amount of the enzyme lactase, which breaks down the lactose in milk. As a result, consumption of dairy can lead to diarrhoea,’ says Dr Suzanne.
‘It’s best to avoid altogether, especially as dairy products are also high in sugar and fat.’
Stuffing and nut roast
‘Stuffing and nut roasts contain seasoning such as garlic and onion, and nuts which contain toxins that affect multiple systems in the body, causing shock and can be fatal,’ says Dr Suzanne.
These delicious morsels may seem harmless to us, but can result in an emergency for a dog.
Salty snacksAccording to Dr Suzanne, ‘Salt plays a vital role in the functioning of our pets’ bodies which is why you’ll often see a tightly controlled amount in pet food recipes.
‘However, if eaten in large quantities, salt may lead to electrolyte imbalances in dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas, and ferrets.
‘This can lead to excessive thirst and dehydration, can affect their appetite, and cause neurological symptoms. Gerbils, hamsters, and rats can suffer from similar symptoms, along with digestion problems and issues with their hearts.’
Make sure your pet is in good company. Pets get lonely and depressed just like people do when they spend too much time alone. Cats are generally better on their own, but dogs and especially puppies don’t do well left to their own devices for extended periods of time.
Cooked and roasted vegetables
Vegetables are an important part of a dog’s diet, but honey roasted carrots or sprouts in gravy aren’t ideal.
Dr Suzanne says: ‘Dogs and cats could have small amounts of cooked vegetables, so long as there is no gravy, salt, and sauces involved, and they aren’t cooked in oil.
‘Avoid raw potato for all species.’
Leftover Christmas meat and fish
Once again, it’s not so much the meat that could cause a problem for your pet, but what it’s been cooked in.
’Starters, such as oysters, contain toxins that cause shellfish poisoning, which can be very dangerous for any animal,’ says Dr Suzanne.
‘Giving your pet leftover cooked meat is not recommended either, as the meat may have been cooked with gravy, seasoning, nuts and herbs – which can be poisonous to pets, causing tremors, seizures and damage to the central nervous system.
‘This includes pigs in blankets which are high in fat and salt so not suitable for your dogs, cats or other pets.’
Bones from fish, poultry or other meat sources
Just because dogs often enjoy bones, it’s important to remember that these are often specially treated to ensure they don’t break apart and cause damage.
Many dogs have a condition nicknamed “Frito Feet,” in which their feet smell little bit like corn chips. As Matt Soniak wrote in a Big Question on this site, this has to do with the kind of bacteria found on a pup’s feet, and “could be due to yeast or Proteus bacteria. Both are known for their sweet, corn tortilla–like smell. Or it could be Pseudomonas bacteria, which smell a little fruitier—but pretty close to popcorn to most noses.”
Dr Suzanne states that turkey and fish bones – among others – can ’cause obstruction or laceration of the digestive system.’
None of us would intentionally give our dog alcohol, but at this time of the year when more is lying around, it’s important to stay extra vigilant.According to the survey, liqueur chocolates, Baileys, and Brandy sauce were the most common alcoholic items pets have eaten that have made them unwell.
Dr Suzanne advises: ’Please hide away any alcoholic beverages, gifts or treats from pets, because if they consume these, it can cause intoxication, and can result in comas or death.’
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