Keeping your pets healthy this Christmas
The festive season can be a very exciting time for everyone – including your pets. With demand for puppies at an all-time high many of us will be spending Christmas with a dog for the first time and although it is tempting to share some Christmas treats with your pet, many of the tasty foods that we like to enjoy at Christmas can be harmful to dogs and cats. Here are a few pointers on things to avoid – and if you’re not sure whether something is safe to share, don’t do it! There are plenty of healthy treats available that are designed especially for pets if you want to spoil them. It is far better to be safe than sorry, heading into 2021 with a hefty vets bill to pay.
Christmas kitten Photo by Jeffrey Buchbinder on Unsplash
Christmas Foods that your dog should avoid
If you want to treat your dog at Christmas, give them dog chews or toys - made especially for dogs - rather than snacks from your plate. Not all human food is good for them and many of the things that we like to enjoy at Christmas can be particularly harmful. Chocolate, grapes, mince pies, Christmas pudding and some types of nut are toxic to dogs.
Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine, which is a bit like caffeine. It can cause tremors and heart problems, even if your dog only eats a small amount. Don’t leave chocolate lying around where your dog may find it. If you have children, make sure that they understand the dangers too and don’t leave their chocolate where your dog can easily get their paws on it. If your pooch is the type to eat first and ask questions later, don’t put things where they might be tempted. Don’t leave chocolates out in dishes or hang them on your Christmas tree – especially if they are likely to eat the foil wrappers too. Place any wrapped edible gifts out of reach and make sure any visiting friends and relatives are aware of the risks. Even if you can’t smell the contents of a present under the tree, your dog will be able to smell it and they won't wait until Christmas day to open it and eat the contents.
Christmas pups Photo by Casey Calhoun on Unsplash
Grapes, raisins and festive fruits
Any type of grape – fresh, or dried as raisins in mince pies, Christmas cake and Christmas pudding - are severely toxic to dogs. Just a small amount can cause kidney failure. Most dogs will leave them alone, but certain breeds – and puppies - tend to eat anything they find, particularly if they are wrapped in buttery pastry or smothered in cream. Make sure you keep them out of harm's way, especially if your dog is a ‘climber’ and likely to get up onto a table or kitchen counter to get at a festive treat.
Some of the spices used in Christmas baking can also make your dog sick. Cinnamon - although not toxic - may cause vomiting. Likewise, Large quantities of nutmeg can cause hallucinations and increased heart rate - although they would have to eat a lot to experience these effects. Make sure you keep your cooking ingredients packed away just in case they decided to get their paws on the jar.
Christmas pug Photo by Indi Palmer on Unsplash
Onions and other similar veg (leeks, shallots etc) are toxic whether they are cooked or raw and can cause anaemia. Although most dogs will tend to avoid onions, be careful if you have onion gravy, or any sort of meat mixed with onions as most dogs will be unable to resist this if they find it.
Macadamia nuts are known to cause increased body temperature, tremors, stiffness and lethargy in dogs so make sure you avoid feeding these too.
Feeding Christmas leftovers to your dog
If you are going to feed Christmas leftovers to your dog, make sure that they don’t contain any of the foods mentioned above and be aware of hidden dangers such as onions in gravy, raisins or spices. Cooked bones can splinter and cause severe problems as well. If you insist on sharing your dinner, then stick to whole foods such as turkey, potatoes, sprouts, carrots, parsnips and peas. Any kind of sweet treat will contain sugar which is bad for your dog’s teeth so try not to feed these even if they don’t contain any of the toxic ingredients we have mentioned here.
Dog in bed Photo by Heber Galindo on Unsplash
Christmas Foods that your cat should avoid
Onions and garlic
Just like dogs, cats should avoid eating onions, garlic, spring onions and shallots as these can damage their red blood cells and cause anaemia. You should also make sure that your cat doesn’t have access to things with hidden forms of concentrated garlic or onion, such as creamy sauces or soups which they may be tempted to try.
Avoid letting your cat eat any bones – raw or cooked as they may damage their teeth, cause them to choke or injure their digestive tract. Make sure any turkey leftovers are securely stored so that your cat is not tempted.
Christmas tree cat Photo by Andréas Brun on Unsplash
Caffeine and chocolate
Most people know that chocolate can be fatal for dogs but what many don’t realise is that it can be just as poisonous for cats too. Chocolate and caffeinated drinks contain a substance called Methylxanthines which can cause vomiting, tremors and seizures. Dark chocolate is more toxic than milk or white chocolate but it is best to make sure that you cat is not tempted to eat any chocolate at all.
Grapes and raisins
Again, like dogs even a tiny taste of grapes or raisins can make your cat seriously ill and lead to kidney failure. If you suspect that your cat has eaten some raisins and they have become lethargic or sick, take them to the vet for immediate treatment.
Table cat Photo by Smitty on Unsplash
The holidays should be a happy time for you and your pets. By ensuring that all food is stored safely and securely out of harm’s way you can focus on having fun and enjoying some special time together over the festive period.
We’d like to take this opportunity to wish all of our customers a very Merry Holiday Season and a Happy New Year. Have you got any tips for taking care of your pets at Christmas? Let us know in the comments section below!
Main Photo by Jasmin Schuler on Unsplash