The decorations are up, presents wrapped and the turkey is waiting to be cooked, that can only mean one thing, Christmas is here. 

But before you pop open the prosecco and get the roast potatoes ready, there is one important thing you need to know, as vets are urging pet parents to take precautions when it comes to feeding their pets during Christmas

All the yummy festive treats around, like chocolate, stuffing and even gravy, can have a detrimental effect, and can even be lethal to pets.

It comes as puppy insurance experts at Animal Friends Pet Insurance have revealed that Christmas was the period that saw the most chocolate-related toxic ingestion claims made in 2021. 

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Patricia Gardiner, CMO at Animal Friends reveals exactly what makes chocolate toxic to dogs: “Chocolate is made from cocoa, and within this cocoa is a chemical called theobromine. Dogs are unable to break down this chemical unlike humans, and the slower rate of metabolism can have drastic effects on their bodies."

Although it's not just chocolate that can be harmful, as Patricia reveals four more toxic foods to dogs. 

Christmas food that is toxic to dogs

1. Gravy

Patricia shares that the roast dinner dressing can be harmful to dogs over one specific ingredient, saying: “Avoid pouring gravy over your dog’s portion of dinner as it’s not typically only high in fats and salts but can also contain onions which can be toxic for dogs.”

2. Pigs in Blankets (and other fatty foods) 

Foods that are high in fat can be very harmful to dogs, including pigs in blankets, as Patricia shares: "Ideally, foods like bacon, cheese, pigs in blankets and cranberry sauce should be avoided as foods like these can lead to pet obesity and other associated conditions.”

3. Stuffing

This roast dinner side is loved by many, and although it's safe for humans, dogs should avoid it. Patricia says: “While a favourite amongst most humans, dogs shouldn’t be given stuffing as they often contain onions and garlic, the latter of which is poisonous to dogs due to a compound called thiosulfate that causes damage to their red blood cells.”

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4. Mince pies (and other puddings)

Dogs might enjoy a sweet treat but they should avoid them as Patricia shares: "Mincemeat, currants, raisins, and sultanas are popular in puds this time of year, but they are also toxic to dogs.  So while those puppy-dog eyes can be a killer, don’t be tempted to give them any mince pies over the Christmas period.

"You’ll also need to avoid Christmas puddings, fruit cakes and stollen as they have a mixture of dangerous dried fruits and sometimes alcohol too.” 

What you should do if your pet starts to show symptoms of poisoning

There are five signs of food poisoning, they are: 

  • Hyperactivity or irritability
  • Diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Increased drinking and urination
  • Tummy pain
  • Muscle tremors or twitching
  • Seizures
  • Warm to touch

Kate Costaras, a vet at Joii Pet Care, shared insight on what you should do if your pet starts to show symptoms of poisoning. 

She said: "Even if you haven’t seen your pet eating something they shouldn’t, it can take several hours for symptoms to appear so do keep a good eye on them.

"Typically, they can develop any time between 4 and 24 hours after consumption so it is important to spot them as soon as they occur."