Christmas treats your dog or cat must not eat

Written by Napo HQ
16th Dec 2023
9 min read
Summary
Be sure to keep mince pies, chocolates, decorations, sweets, roast dinner, fruitcake, and too much cheese, away from your dog or cat this holiday. It's always best to call a vet if you think they've eaten something they really shouldn't have.
While Christmas is one of the most delicious times of the year, it can be a little bit dangerous for our dogs and cats! Puppies in particular have a habit of discovering tasty treats that they shouldn't, especially when their humans are distracted by guests arriving, or family celebrations.
Making sure your pet doesn’t eat anything they shouldn’t this Christmas will make sure your furry friend stays happy and healthy. It will also save you the stress of a sick pet and the
cost of any vet bills
.
From mince pies to advent calendar chocolate, many of the holiday treats we humans love can make our pets seriously sick. Read on to find out what Christmas essentials are dangerous for pets, and how to keep your furry family members safe over the holidays.

Chocolate

Advent calendars and other chocolates are what many of us love most about this time of year. While we humans love to indulge ourselves with them, you must make sure your pet doesn’t eat any kind of chocolate. Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine which is
toxic to dogs,
and
even more toxic cats
, as well as rabbits and rodents.
It can take several hours after eating chocolate before your pet shows any signs of illness. And because of how some animals metabolise theobromine, it can stay in their system and continue to make them sick for several days.
Eating chocolate can cause the following symptoms:
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Hyperactivity
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Death
All kinds of chocolate are dangerous for dogs and cats and you should never feed any to your pet. However, dark chocolate and cocoa powder are more dangerous than other kinds of chocolate because they contain much more theobromine. 
Remember to keep all chocolate and chocolate-flavoured treats out of paws’ reach this Christmas, and all year round!

Mince pies

As well as lots (and lots!) of chocolate, mince pies are another staple Christmas treat. While delicious (especially with some mulled wine by the Christmas tree!) you can’t share them with your furry friend.
That’s because mince pies contain raisins, currants, and sultanas. These are all kinds of dried grapes, and grapes are highly toxic to dogs and cats.
Unfortunately, it’s not known why grapes are so dangerous to our pets. Plus, each animal's reaction appears to be individual. In some cases, a single grape or raisin could prove life-threatening, so you must not let your pets eat any mince pies or any other food containing raisins or grapes.
One of the earliest symptoms of grape or raisin poisoning is vomiting and lethargy, which can happen within 24 hours of eating the fruits. Your dog or cat might also suffer from diarrhoea and a loss of appetite. More severe symptoms usually occur within 24-48 hours and indicate there's been damage to your pet's kidneys. If left untreated, they can suffer from kidney failure and could die.
Symptoms of kidney failure in dogs and cats include:
  • Lethargy
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Ammonia-smelling breath
  • Increased or excessive thirst and urination

Roast dinner

Most of us will sit down on Christmas Day to enjoy a mouthwatering roast dinner with our families. While some treats from the table are absolutely fine, like
carrots
, you should never give your dog or cat any cooked bones from your roast dinner. Cooked bones splinter easily, which can cut your pet's mouth and cause horrific internal injuries like a punctured stomach, or perforated intestine. These injuries are life-threatening and need emergency surgery to treat.

Sweets

We all know too much sugar is bad for you, and it’s the same for our dogs and cats. Pets shouldn’t eat human sweets because the large quantities of sugar contribute to weight gain and obesity, cause tooth decay and
gum disease
, and could lead to diabetes.
Sugar-free sweets are arguably even more dangerous for your pet because they might contain the common sweetener Xylitol. Xylitol is highly poisonous to both dogs and cats, and eating just a tiny amount could cause serious illness.

Cheeseboards

Cheese is packed full of fat and salt, and too much of either can make your dog or cat sick. Adult dogs and
cats are also lactose intolerant
, and while cheese has lower lactose than milk or cream, eating a lot of cheese can still cause illnesses like stomach ache, diarrhoea, and flatulence. Soft cheeses should also be avoided for both dogs and cats, as they are especially high in lactose.
Some types of cheese are toxic to pets. You should never let your dog or cat eat any sort of mouldy or blue cheese. The moulds contain a chemical called Roquefortine C, which is harmful to dogs.

What happens if my pet eats something they shouldn’t this Christmas?

If your pet has eaten anything that is potentially harmful, or they suddenly become sick during the holidays, you must call your vet for advice.
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