Christmas is a time when we all over-indulge on our favourite foods with our friends and family around us. For many of us our pets are an important part of the family, we want them to enjoy Christmas just as much as we do and there is a huge temptation to share with them the foods that we enjoy.
Last year, the RSPCA reported that 24% of pet owners gave their pets a full ‘turkey and all the trimmings’ Christmas dinner. Whilst it may seem like a great way of including your pet in the festivities there are many typical Christmas foods that may be detrimental to your pet’s health.
Many of us are aware of the foods that cause our pets harm such as grapes, chocolate, onions, milk and alcohol but at Christmas with lots of extra food around, under the tree or out on the table it’s important that we take extra care in protecting our pets.
In my house there’s always an argument over who gets the turkey legs, but it’s important to remember that once a bone has been cooked it becomes weaker and more likely to splinter. Giving them to your dog to chew may cause blockages in their throat or even perforation of the digestive system.
Gravy and stuffing are also Christmas dinner culprits especially if cooked with large amounts of garlic and onion which can cause gastro intestinal problems in both cats and dogs. Mince pies, Christmas cake and Christmas pudding all contain high quantities of sultanas and raisins which can cause kidney problems, particularly in dogs. On top of this, our favourite Christmas treats are often laced with alcohol which is great for us but can cause liver problems and even brain damage in both cats and dogs.
The chocolate decorations that you put on the tree for the kids (big and small) to enjoy can cause sickness and diarrhoea in dogs so make sure you put them high up out of the reach of greedy paws! The same goes for advent calendars or chocolate gifts wrapped under the tree. Your dog’s nose is better than ours at identifying those mystery presents so leave the edible gifts out of reach until Christmas morning. Other foods that you need to take care with include macadamia nuts, xylitol (a type of sweetener), dairy and caffeine, all of which can cause a range of health problems from lactose intolerance to liver failure, in both dogs and cats.
It’s also important to remember that whilst you may be aware of all the dangers concerning foods, you are likely to have a lot of visitors over the Christmas period that may not be so clued up. Just remind them to keep any foods or drinks high up out of reach to help keep your furry friends safe.
Here at the Abbey Street Animal Rehoming Centre we have our very own pet friendly advent calendars for sale to get your pets involved in the run up to Christmas. For Christmas Day, why not find a recipe for a pet friendly Christmas cake or Christmas dinner? There are plenty examples to be found online to make your pets Christmas both happy and healthy.
So instead of allowing your pet to indulge in human foods this year use pet friendly alternatives to put into their stockings and allow them to enjoy a visit from Santa rather than the vet.