However you and your family choose to celebrate, chances are that food is a central theme. From parties, BBQ’s, family visits, holiday travel to the big day itself, we tend to treat ourselves over summer, and we like to treat our pets too. However, we also usually have stuff in the house that aren’t part of the usual weekly shop. Before you go slipping your dog a few bites under the table, check out these common festive foods that are no good for them.
Poultry Bones - Cooked bones pose a risk to your animals’ intestines. They are liable to splinter and puncture them. Make sure to dispose of all carcasses properly so your pets aren’t tempted to sneak a bite off the table or bench
Poultry skin - Turkey and chicken skins are too high in fat and are badly processed by our pets. Consuming them can lead to a host of issues from pancreatitis to diarrhea. This applies to gravy too.
Alcohol - Pretty obvious one, but with more booze around it’s important to remember your furry friends process alcohol much worse than people do.
Christmas puddings - Dried vine fruits like raisins and currants etc are toxic to your dogs and cause kidney failure.
Chocolate - This is a big danger for dogs all year round, but Christmas is a pretty chocolatey time. Dogs can sniff out these yummy treats so stash them well out of reach!
Nuts- All nuts are too fatty for your pup, but many of them contain extra substances that are toxic to animals. Steer clear in all cases to be safe.
Alliums - This is the family name for a lot of veggies you might use in your Christmas cooking - Onions, Leeks, Shallots, Garlic etc. Onions are the most toxic but all can cause serious harm and possibly death.
Nutmeg - This spice is a traditional Christmas flavouring you might put in several seasonal dishes, but it’s no good for pets.It can harm the nervous system and has been known to lead to death. It’s a regular component of gingerbread so be extra careful with it.
Avocado - If you have any brunches planned, keep your avocado toast to yourself. This fruit is bad for pretty much every animal around, despite it’s great health benefits for humans.
Unbaked yeast doughs - Keep these way out of reach as they can ferment in pets’ tummies. Most baking is fine for them (provided you haven’t used other no-no’s eg. Nutmeg), but not til it’s finished cooking.
Xylitol - This artificial sweetener is found in lots of things such as gum, toothpaste, and the old favourite - peanut butter. Usually found in “low calorie” and “sugar free” items, you want to completely avoid this for your animals. Of particular note at Christmas is Candy Canes, which also pose a risk from their plastic wrapping.
Dairy - Avoid milk, and anything too high in dairy for your pets. Dogs lack enough of the enzyme needed to break down dairy so it can cause them some pretty severe digestive issues.
Corn Cobs –Be aware of leaving eaten corn cobs on plates or anywhere your dog can reach them. If you see signs such as lethargy, vomiting, or appetite loss and it is possible your dog ate a cob, get in touch with your vet as they may require surgery to remove the cob.
It might sound like a lot of limitations, but if you want to treat your pets these holidays (and really, who doesn’t?) here are a bunch of safe and tasty options:
The Good (Moderation is key)
Ham and Turkey- You can sneak your pal a few little pieces of Christmas meats as long as there’s no bones or skin, and you make sure they’re definitely little bits as they have high fat content that needs to be limited.
Cheese - Along similar lines, dogs can have a little bit of some cheeses. Swiss, Mozzarella and Cheddar are safe choices but avoid feta, goats cheese and blue cheese. Definitely a little treat food.
Veggies- Most vegetables are good choices. Carrots, broccoli, peas, all kinds of pumpkin and squashes are all good choices. Potatoes and Kumara are great too as long as they aren’t cooked with butter or other toxic ingredients.
Pistachios - The exception to the no nuts rule, a few shelled pistachios are an ok treat for your pup.
Pears - Skinned, cored and cubed, bits of pear are a yummy addition to a dogs diet.
A little vigilance is all it takes to make sure your pets have a tasty, safe and happy holidays alongside you.