Don’t Give Your Pet a Toxic Christmas

Jane Hunt © White dog beside grapes and other foods not suitable for pooches

Our beloved pets will be a huge part of the celebrations over the festivities – so make sure you take a few sensible precautions to make their Christmas a healthy and happy one, too!

PetPanion, the App that helps pet owners look after their dog or cat’s physical and mental health and wellbeing, is urging those with canine and feline companions not to create a toxic atmosphere this Christmas, at a time when vets might not be able to attend to pets that eat the wrong thing.

Keep Christmas accessories out of reach

While we may love to deck the halls with decorations of every shape and size, make sure they are out of reach of your pooch. Dogs have a penchant for eating non-food items like candles, baubles, tinsel and pot pourri which can lead to illness, vomiting, gut and windpipe blockages and a whole host of other pet issues. Better to be safe than sorry!

Snow globes a no-no

A dog and cat at Christmas time Pic: Shutterstock

Pic: Shutterstock

Snow globes imported from abroad are often filled with anti-freeze which is highly toxic for cats. Pets can be tempted to lick up the sweet-smelling liquid if an ornament is knocked over.

Salty problem

Leaving cigarettes and alcohol around could also cause serious health issues, with both nicotine and alcohol being toxic to pets. Himalayan salt lamps can be irresistible to pets, but cause major health problems, with severe neurological issues resulting from salt poisoning and ingestion of sodium.

Toxic Treats

But dangers also lie in what pet owners might feed to their pets as “treats”, or what pets might sniff out for themselves! Dark chocolate is highly toxic for dogs and cats, even a few squares can cause issues such and diarrhoea and vomiting. Larger amounts can result in a dog experiencing seizures or tremors, cardiac issues and even death. Leaving chocolate anywhere within a dog’s reach is highly inadvisable.

Giving dogs and cats nibbles of Christmas pud and mince pies could lead to kidney failure, as grapes and all of their dried derivatives – currants, raisins and sultanas – are toxic to our four-legged pals.

Thinking about what makes up certain foodstuffs is also key. Stuffing balls are likely to contain some form of onion, which is again toxic to dogs and cats and which can damage their red blood cells, cause abdominal discomfort and lethargy. Other foods containing nuts, particularly macadamia nuts, can also be very harmful to a dog’s health.

And while chewing on gum after a meal might be OK for your guests, don’t leave any lying around, as even small amounts can cause liver damage, should a dog ingest it.

Giving a pet a well-balanced meal, full of nutrition and vitamins and minerals, is the best present you can give it this Christmas but sneaking it a little bit of turkey meat, free from skin and bones, is acceptable, if you really must.

What to do in an emergency

PetPanion app users who do suffer an unanticipated emergency situation with their pet’s health can easily find the contact details of vets local to them. The PetPanion app can be downloaded for free from App Store or Play Store. More information is at

Allison Hay

I joined the "My Weekly" team thirteen years ago and, more recently, "The People's Friend". I love the variety of topics we cover both online and in the magazines. I manage the digital content for the brands, sharing features and information on the website, social media and in our digital newsletters.