Need Assistance? 01384 442752 (UK)

Pets At Christmas

The Christmas Festivities Are Here
If you own a dog or cat – here are ten hazards to beware of

Christmas is drawing closer and the countdown is more than on. Houses are gleaming with Christmas decorations, trees are covered in sparkling lights, festive foods and drinks are on offer and it is certainly the season to be jolly. If you have a pet, it is also the season to be wary of potential hazards.

Animals can be attracted to festive foods which may contain ingredients which are toxic to pets. Certain festive plants can be potential hazards and decorations may appear like a new toy.

Of course, there are potential hazards to pets all year round so you should always take this into consideration, however there is an increase of these problems at Christmastime, particularly at veterinary practices. A recent survey conducted by the BVA (British Veterinary Association) revealed that “84% of vets who had treated a companion animal in 2017 reported cases of toxic ingestion over the Christmas break”.

With these statistics in mind, pet owners need to be wary of the possible hazards we include in our lives. There are many potential hazards at Christmastime; here are just ten of these:


This may seem like an obvious one, but there are more and more cases of accidental chocolate poisoning in our pets each year. The toxic ingredient is actually theobromine which is a stimulant. This is highly toxic to pets as it digests slowly in their digestive tracts allowing time for the toxins to take effect.

So, beware of any chocolate Santa’s and selection boxes left at mouths reach of a pet. 

Onions, Garlic and Chives

Yes, we may use these every day in our kitchen, but these all belong to the Allium family which are all toxic to dogs and cats. Many sauces or gravy, sausages and stuffing contain these, so beware of furry food pinchers to avoid a trip to the vet.

Christmas Pudding and Mince pies 

Both mince pies and Christmas puddings are very popular at Christmastime, however very toxic to dogs and cats. This is because they both contain raisins, sultanas and currants which are all toxic to dogs. Grapes are also toxic to dogs. Ingesting these can cause acute kidney failure in both cats and dogs.

Macadamia Nuts 

These are highly toxic to dogs causing gastrointestinal upset and also affecting the nervous system. If you offer a bowl of nuts, it is always best to keep it from nose reach of dogs. Although no research has been found that they affect cats in the same way, it always best to be cautious.


Xylitol is a natural sweetener which can be found in sugar free products. Examples may include: chewing gum and sweets, alongside toothpastes, vitamins, mouthwash and some peanut butter. Xylitol can cause hypoglycaemia alongside liver failure.

This is highly poisonous to dogs, even in small amounts. Early veterinary attention should be sought. 

Blue Cheese

Blue cheese contains roquefortine C which is a mycotoxin produced by the fungus used to create the cheese. If dogs consume blue cheese, this ingredient can cause muscle tremors and seizures which can last up to 48 hours.


What is Christmas without tinsel?! It provides colour and shimmer over the festive period. Unfortunately both cats and dogs are attracted to playing with it. If ingested, it can become blocked within the gastrointestinal tract.

Fairy Lights 

Adding further Christmas sparkle with fairy lights, however do ensure these are kept out of reach of pets. Both cats and dogs can be attracted to these and if live, pets may be electrocuted.


Over these festivities we all may share an alcoholic drink or two. Dogs and cats may be attracted to some alcoholic drinks, for example cream based drinks. It is important to keep these out of reach of preying mouths.

Alcohol can be dangerous to dogs, even in small quantities, and can lead on to seizures and coma.

Festive Plants 

Poinsettia, Lillie’s, Mistletoe and Ivy are all toxic to cats and dogs. Although may only cause mild symptoms, they can make an animal quite sick. If ingested in large amounts then advice should most certainly be sought.

Other hazards

Of course, there are many more hazards over Christmas time, and these are only ten of these. Cooked bones can become lodged within in a pets gastrointestinal tract. New toys, wrapping paper and packaging can be hazardous, particularly with pups who think anything is edible. Beware of batteries and silica acid within any toys or packaging. Likewise, high fatty foods and salt dough gifts can be a highly attractive feast for a dog, however could cause them to be very sick. 

If you worry your pet has ingested anything which may be toxic or harmful over the festivities, don’t hesitate to call your emergency vet. Most vets work out of hours and on call where required, and it is better to be safe than sorry.

We all love our pets, and caring for them is not always quite so straightforward. You can learn more about looking after a whole variety of pets with one of our courses. Or, if you are looking to pursue a career in the pet industry, then studying with us could provide you with a solid foundation of knowledge on which to build your career.

If you have any questions, or want to know more, then get in touch with one of our specialist Pet Tutors today.

[17/08/2022 16:49:45]

More from ACS