Pet safe food at Christmas

Christmas is a great time to be with friends, family and pets, and although it may be a little different this year, don’t forget that some traditional Christmas foods can cause issues for your pet.

Young puppies and kittens can be especially curious about all the new things they can see and smell. Read on to find out which foods should be kept out of paws reach and which foods are safe to share with your pet.

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Amid the festivities, don’t forget that a change in routine can be stressful for your pet. Learn more to help keep your pet calm at Christmas.

What food should I avoid giving my pet at Christmas?

Food plays a big role in Christmas celebrations, but did you know that many of the nation’s favourite Christmas treats are toxic to pets? With all the excitement going on, many pets may even use the opportunity to help themselves to some tasty treats – make sure you keep kitchen cupboards closed, use a sturdy food waste bin that can’t be tipped over, clear away leftover dinner plates and always clean up any spillages and crumbs.

Below are some festive favourites that you should avoid sharing with your pet:

  • Pigs in blankets and gravy are fatty and salty and, if eaten in large quantities, can cause pancreatitis in pets. This is where the pancreas becomes inflamed, resulting in vomiting, loss of appetite and stomach pain.
  • Raisins and sultanas are highly toxic and can cause kidney issues, so keep mince pies, Christmas pudding and fruit cake well out of paw’s reach.
  • Onions, shallots, garlic, leeks and chives are all members of the allium family and can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, and even anaemia in pets. Avoid feeding pets things like stuffing and onion gravy.
  • Leftover turkey bones, while it may be tempting to give your dog leftover turkey bones, their brittle nature and risk of splintering make them highly dangerous to your pet’s digestive system.
  • Nuts, including macadamia nuts and walnuts, can cause lethargy, high temperature, tremors, and stomach upset, so always keep them out of the way of inquisitive pets
  • Nutmeg is often used to add spice to festive treats but it’s highly poisonous to pets and can result in tremors and seizures
  • Chocolate is one of the most well-known toxic treats, and it’s in abundance at Christmas. Chocolate contains the toxic compound theobromine and eating large amounts of it can be fatal, so it’s essential you keep it wrapped up and out of the way. If you must hang some on the tree, ensure it’s on a higher branch.
  • Alcohol is bad news for pets. It affects them in a similar way to humans, causing drowsiness and lack of coordination, but it can also dramatically lower their body temperature and blood sugar levels, leading to seizures and comas.
  • Rawhide is a treat commonly given to dogs and it can keep them occupied for hours. But be aware that these chews can actually pose a choking risk for strong-jawed dogs, as large chunks can break off and become lodged in their throat or in other parts of their digestive system.

If your pet does eat any of these festive toxins, call your local vet immediately for advice. All Medivet 24-hour emergency centres are open throughout the Christmas holidays.

Don’t be tempted to give your new puppy or indeed any dog a little treat under the Christmas table, you don’t want to start a new tradition that will quickly become annoying and will be very difficult to break once the festivities are over.

Ensure that children and elderly guests are aware that they shouldn’t feed the dog chocolate (or any unapproved treats) or leave it in the way of temptation.

Pet-friendly Christmas snacks

Don’t worry, there are a few parts of your Christmas dinner you can share with your pet (not under the table though). Always give these tasty titbits in moderation and reduce the amount of pet food you give them that day to maintain a healthy weight.

Dogs and cats can have:

  • a slice of plain, cooked, white turkey meat
  • a small piece of plain, cooked, boneless salmon
  • raw carrots
  • plain brussels sprouts
  • plain boiled parsnips.

Rabbits can have:

  • raw carrots
  • raw brussels sprouts
  • raw parsnips
  • raw peas
  • fresh rosemary, thyme and sage

For more advice on pet safe food, speak to your Medivet practice.

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