At ‘the most wonderful time of the year’, here’s our guide to keeping your pets in wonderful health this Christmas. During the festive period, there are lots of extra-special foods and treats around, often packaged in brightly coloured, crinkly, noisy materials which can capture the intrigue of even the most sedate of pets. The key to keeping your pets from eating what they shouldn’t, is to stay vigilant and mindful of what is within their reach. Let’s look at some of the more common culprits in detail.


  • Raisins are a firm favourite at Christmas, be they booze-soaked and in cake or within mince pies, they can cause acute kidney failure in both cats and dogs. The scary thing is that even small amounts can sometimes be fatal.
  • There is something very festive about a dish of nutson the coffee table at Christmas time. Care should be taken where cats, dogs and especially puppies show too much interest in these. Some nuts are poisonous to pets, others are difficult for them to digest and large shell-on nuts especially, can pose a choking hazard. Best keep these decorative items out of reach.
  • Xylitol is a substance that is increasingly on the radar of us veterinary professionals. Featuring in so many products these days as a sugar replacement, there are likely to be many Christmas treats containing it. Tiny amounts can cause serious harm especially in dogs so it really is one to be avoided.
  • Likewise, keep chocolate well out of reach of both cats and dogs. Theobromine is a component of chocolate which we as humans are lucky enough to be able to metabolise. Cats and dogs sadly can’t and it acts as a toxin.
  • Whilst we don’t want the magic of receiving presents to be spoiled for anyone, make quite sure there are no edible foodsin presents which you will be keeping under the tree and accessible to pets.
  • As tempting as it is to treat your pet to a Christmas dinner, beware that there are many components that can be poisonous to them. Onions, garlic, chives, blue cheeseand alcohol are all toxic to dogs. Giving fat trimmingsto cats and dogs can overload the pancreas causing it to inflame. Pancreatitis can be an extremely painful condition and generally requires a patient to be hospitalised.


If you have children the chances are that on Christmas morning your sitting room looks as if a wrapping paper bomb has gone off. All those toys can be too much for kids to take in of a morning, but they can overwhelm pets too. Small toys especially, suddenly become a choking risk to cats and dogs who think that they are entitled to play as well.

Packaging and decorations

We all know that a cat’s attraction to string is strong, they seem to find it irresistible! The trouble is that over-zealous kitties can ingest it, potentially causing a nasty foreign body problem in the gut. Once in the intestine, the string can pull tight and cause a cheese-wire effect on the gut which is painful and can be life-threatening. So keep wrapping paper and present string out of reach of pets, tinsel too!

A beautifully decorated Christmas tree is a sight to behold and is enough to put the Christmas spirit in anyone. Traditional glass baubles however can be extremely dangerous to pets. If broken, the glass can cause terrible damage to pets’ paws and even to the mouth if a dog pulls them off the tree with their teeth. Anyone who has a dog who eats strange, inedible items, won’t be surprised to hear that baubles may even be consumed by some. It is likely that surgery would be required in these cases.

Best ensure that pets are supervised around Christmas trees, and that any dangerous decs are placed up high!

Christmas should be fun for all, including our pets. Which is why, with just a little bit of thought, we can all take steps to keep them out of mischief this year. If however, your pet is especially intent on getting their paws or noses into something they shouldn’t please remember that emergency veterinary care is available 24/7, year round.

It is better to make the phone call as soon as possible and be told not to worry, than to leave an intoxication, poisoning, or accident too long without veterinary attention. Merry Christmas to all our clients, both two-legged and four-pawed.