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Christmas Dinner for Pets?

Christmas is a wonderful time for the whole family and all that amazing festive food is fundamental to the celebrations. Your pets are part of your family and so It is tempting to treat them to your seasonal fare. But you should exercise caution when it comes to sharing your Christmas dinner. Overeating is as unhealthy for pets as it is for people and some human foods are actually toxic to cats and dogs.

Onions, leeks, Chives and Garlic

These foods are all species of allium and are toxic to both cats and dogs. All are often features of stuffing and gravy and may also be included in garnishes. Onions, leeks, Chives and Garlic damage red blood cells and prevent them from carrying oxygen and so cause anaemia. The symptoms of allium poisoning include abdominal pain, diarrhoea, weakness or lack of appetite. Cats are more susceptible to allium poisoning than dogs.

Grapes and Raisins

Grapes and raisins can cause acute kidney failure in both cats and dogs. It isn’t known precisely what the toxic agent is in these fruits. Clinical signs can occur within 24 hours of eating them and include vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. This means that mince pies, Christmas pudding and Christmas cake should not be features of your pet’s Christmas menu.

Peanuts and Macadamia Nuts

Peanuts have been reported to cause problems in some pets. Symptoms include muscle spasm, twitching, hallucinations and agitation. Macadamia nuts are definitely toxic to pets and have been associated with lethargy, weakness and collapse. It is best to avoid feeding your pet anything which may contain nuts. This would include stuffing and both sweet and savoury pies.


Xylitol is an artificial sweetener which is poisonous to pets. Even small amounts can cause hypoglycemia, seizures, liver failure or even death in dogs. Try not to feed your pet any processed human food including pies, cakes and ready meals in case they contain this sweetener.

Fatty Foods

Turkey skin and other fatty foods can be hard for pets to digest and may result in pancreatitis. Here the symptoms include abdominal pain and sickness and in severe cases the condition can lead to kidney failure, heart problems and diabetes. Don’t give your pet mashed potato which have been enhanced with cream or butter. Pastries are extremely high in fat so sausage rolls are not a good idea!

Gastric Torsion

There is so much food about at Christmas that most people end up overeating and there is always plenty of food going spare. It is tempting to treat your pets to the leftovers but be very careful not to allow them to overindulge. Excess food could lead to gastric torsion which is where the stomach dilates and them twists around on itself, blocking digestion and restricting blood flow. This is a potentially fatal condition which can materialise very quickly.

If you want to treat your pet at Christmas then a small portion of lean Turkey is the best choice. Take care to remove all bones from the meat as these can also be hazardous. Vegetables are a healthy choice except onions and leeks, of course. Better still, rather than your dinner!


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