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Keeping Christmas Dinner Safe

As much as I adore spending time with loved ones, watching others unwrap gifts and enjoying a bit of rest and relaxation, the undeniable highlight for me at Christmas is gorging myself on all of my favourite foods. Unfortunately – for our four-legged friends more than anyone – many of our edible essentials aren’t the best for our pets. Many foods could cause an upset stomach (and an unpleasant clean up job), while others are downright dangerous. Below we’ve covered a few, and shared some simple advice on food safety over the festive season.

If you’ll be partaking in a wee Prosecco or two, be sure to keep glasses well out of reach – and not just for the sake of the glassware! Alcohol is obviously problematic for pets, but they don’t need to miss out altogether – head to our Stockbridge charity shop and pick up a bottle of pet-friendly ‘Pawsecco’ or ‘Bottom Sniffer’ beer!

The standard Christmas dinner comes complete with a heap of hidden hazards for our pets – some obvious, some less so. If sneaking Skippy a wee bit of roast turkey under the table, first be sure it’s free of any bones. While dogs and bones usually go hand-in-hand, smaller bones from the likes of chicken and turkey could be easily crunched up and injure their mouth, throat or stomach. Foods from the allium family – which includes onions, garlic, leeks and the like – can quickly cause nausea, stomach pains, vomiting and diarrhoea. Even the humble roast potato, fried in fat or oil, could be a bit rich for a pet’s stomach.

Next up, my favourite course – the sweet treats. Chocolate is an obvious no-no, but anything sweet should be avoided. Many sweet foods contain artificial sweeteners like xylitol, which is very poisonous to pets. Mince pies and Christmas puddings should be avoided, as it’s speculated that the toxicity of grapes is concentrated in dried forms, such as raisins, currants and sultanas. Some nuts, such as peanuts and hazelnuts, shouldn’t cause issues – though for small dogs do pose a choking risk. Others, such as Macadamia nuts, can cause issues similar to chocolate, including lethargy, vomiting, tremors, and an increase in body temperature.

Christmas food

It’s very difficult to know exactly which food are safe and which could cause issues. As we often ask in our education workshops; which food is safest for our dogs and cats?

The answer is simple: dog and cat food. Our best bet to keep our pets feeling fine across the festivities is to keep their diet consistent, and specific to them.

Remember, our pets are naturally curious. They don’t intend to eat things that cause them an upset stomach, they just often don’t know better. It’s our responsibility to ensure that harmful foods are out of their reach, and that every member of the family (tails and all) enjoy the season in moderation – even if we sometimes don’t ourselves!

Daniel Tipping

Education Officer

Daniel is Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home’s Education Officer and is responsible for planning and delivering educational workshops to schools, community groups and workplaces – If you’d like to find out more about our Education Programme please visit our Advice & Education page.

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