top of page

HO-HO-HO! How to keep your pet safe this Christmas time!


It’s that time of year again, the festive season has arrived! This means good food, barbeques, social gatherings, and days at the beach! We are excited for the holidays to begin, so to keep this time stress free it is important to remember what risks the Christmas period may bring to our beloved fur babies and how we can keep them safe during the celebrations.  

The Christmas period also tends to be the busiest time of year for many veterinary clinics. This time of year, we commonly see patients who have ingested food or items they shouldn’t have, patients who are suffering from heatstroke, or dogs who have gotten into fights. Lots of these things can be prevented, and we are here to help – here we discuss common hazards and share our top tips to help keep your pets safe this season. 


Christmas Food and Drink 

Mince pies, Christmas cake, Christmas pudding (Raisins, grapes, sultanas)  

Raisins, grapes, and sultanas are all toxic to Dogs and can cause gut problems and kidney failure. 

Chocolate, Cacao, Cocoa products. 

Chocolate and cocoa products are abundant at Christmas time. Chocolate contains a Theobromine which is similar to caffeine. Dogs cannot digest theobromine, and ingestion can result in hyperactivity, tremors, panting, vomiting, diarrhoea, irregular and fast heart rates, and in severe cases even seizures. Dark chocolate and cooking chocolate contain the most theobromine compared to milk or white chocolate making it most toxic even if eaten in small amounts. For small dogs, as little as 5-10g of dark chocolate can cause severe reactions. It is important to contact your vet for advice if your dog has eaten chocolate, they can help calculate if a toxic dose has been ingested based on your dog's weight, what type and how much chocolate was consumed, from this information the best treatment plan can be recommended. 

BBQs – Corn cobs, Skewers, Cooked bones, Onions. 

Christmas time and summer BBQ’s go hand in hand and with them come some unexpected hazards to our pets. Skewers, cooked bones, and corn cobs all pose big risks to dogs if ingested. These items can cause obstruction and perforations of the gut which require surgical intervention to remove. 

Cooked bones not only can cause gut problems they can commonly break teeth, and can become lodged in a dog's mouth, oesphageous or trachea.  

Onions are toxic to dogs if consumed in large amounts and can cause the destruction of red blood cells resulting in anaemia.  

Christmas leftovers 

As pet parents we love to spoil our fur babies over the Christmas season too, it may be tempting to offer them some leftovers as a special treat but it is recommended to avoid giving them table scraps and leftover fat as it can lead to tummy problems. High-fat foods such as ham, cheeses, and fatty meats can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and pancreatitis. If you really want to treat them only offer a small amount of the foods they have already been exposed to.  

Macadamia nuts 

These little nuts can cause big problems for our dogs. They can cause weakness, tremors, vomiting and hyperthermia.  


Whilst we love a celebratory Christmas drink, alcohol is very dangerous to our pets. In Dogs, alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, tremors, difficulty breathing, coma and even death. 

Artificial sweeteners (xylitol)  

Some sweet treats and cakes contain a sweetener called Xylitol which is very toxic to our pets. Consumption of it can cause dangerously low blood glucose levels, acute liver disease and blood clotting disorders. 

Stone fruit, Avocados 

Nectarines, plums, peaches and avocados that contain large stones can cause gut obstructions if accidentally eaten by our pets.  

Christmas Decorations 

Tinsel, Baubles, glass ornaments, Edible decorations  

New shiny objects can be very appealing to play with to a dog or cat, and these items can accidentally be swallowed. The best way to avoid problems is to prevent your pet access to the tree or decorations, ie. using a puppy gate. Avoid using edible decorations to reduce the chance of your pet eating them.  

Fairy lights and electrical decorations 

If these lights or items are chewed or played with, they pose an electrocution risk.  


Toys, Batteries 

As with Christmas decorations, the presents can be problematic if your pet gets hold of them. Children's toys can be appealing to play with, parts can break off and if ingested pose an obstruction risk. These toys may contain batteries and if consumed they can cause serious caustic burns and heavy metal poisoning.  

40 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

1 Comment

Jocelyn Winwood
Jocelyn Winwood
Dec 13, 2023

Happy Christmas from Tauranga :)

bottom of page