Just because we humans like to fill our faces with all kinds of Christmas food delights, it doesn’t mean our dogs should too. In fact, asides from the tiniest treat I tend to steer clear from giving my dogs human food.
At this time of year, with lots of visitors in the house, ground rules have to be set about ‘feeding the animals’. Do you have an elderly relative that feeds the dog everything they eat, or kids that sneak food under the table? Is there food out and about and more available than usual? My rule is that NO-ONE feeds the dogs, apart from me. That way I know exactly what they are eating.
However, we all love to spoil our pets so a bit of turkey, or a sausage roll probably won’t hurt them (as long as they are still getting lots of exercise!). But it’s not just about stopping them overeating, or throwing it all back up again on your carpet or getting a dodgy tummy – some foods are actually toxic for your dog.
GRAPES – this includes mince pies and Christmas pudding! Some dogs can get seriously ill from eating just one or two grapes. Currants, raisins and sultanas can all have the same effect too, so avoid the mince pies and puds – not only are they packed full of ‘grape variations’ but the suet and high fat content can cause stomach troubles.
CHOCOLATE -probably the most well known dangerous food for dogs. Chocolate contains an alkaloid called ‘theobromine’. Theobromine is in the same family as caffeine. Dogs and other animals cannot metabolize theobromine as quickly as humans can, which causes a much more severe effect. In dogs toxic levels of theobromine can cause diarrhoea; vomiting; increased urination; muscle twitching; excessive panting; hyperactive behavior; whining; dehydration; digestive problems; seizures; and rapid heart rate. Some of these symptoms can ultimately be fatal to the dog. It does all depend on the size of your dog and how much chocolate they have consumed – but rather than risk it, just avoid it! Keep the chocolates off the tree, ensure food gifts are out of reach and don’t let anyone (even grandma) give the dog a chocolate coin!
ONIONS – contain an ingredient called thiosulphate which is toxic to cats and dogs. The ingestion of onions causes a condition called hemolytic anemia, which is characterized by damage to the red blood cells. Onion toxicity can cause the red blood cells circulating through your pet’s body to burst. It can also take 2-3 days for symptoms to appear, and acute toxicity can result in a lengthy hospital stay and blood transfusion. Importantly it takes a very small amount of onion to affect your pet (raw of cooked).
GARLIC – like onions garlic is toxic to your dog because it can cause hemolytic anemia. Dogs cannot digest garlic like we can and therefore the perceived health benefits of garlic for humans does not apply for your pet.
MACADAMIA NUTS – consuming even a small amount of macadamia nuts can cause dogs to experience weakness, depression, tremors, vomiting and hyperthermia (heatstroke), for 12-48 hours.
Finally keep the alcohol out of reach and the e-cigs too, both are extremely harmful to dogs. You can read about e-cig poisoning here .
This is by no means a definitive list of what is harmful to our furry friends, but it will help you educate your visitors about why the dogs are a ‘treat free zone’. And if they really want to give the dogs a treat they could just buy them their own dog friendly Christmas stocking.