Fabulous festive food is one of the highlights of Christmas for most of us. But it is vitally important that we enjoy it in a way that keeps our dogs safe. In a previous blog (Chocolate safety for dogs) we have covered the risks of chocolate. Now we’re going to focus on the possible dangers associated with all the other foods we may have around the house at Christmas.
Many people are tempted to serve up a special dog portion of Christmas dinner for their dog in their bowl. DON’T! Christmas dinner (and a lot of foods consumed by humans) can be potentially dangerous to dog. Here are some of the foods that may harm your dog.
- Onion, garlic and Chives are all poisonous to dogs.
- Bones – Cooked bones can splinter easily and cause significant internal injuries if ingested.
- Salty foods (foods may contain high amounts of sodium without tasting salty).
- Foods that contain Xylitol (artificial sweetener). Xylitol is fatal to dogs.
- Yeast dough, will continue to expand in your dog’s stomach. This will make them prone to gastric problems such as twisted gut (bloat).
- Nuts, in particular Macadamia nuts are poisonous to dogs.
- Grapes and raisins are poisonous to dogs.
- Alcohol is toxic to dogs.
Any sudden change to your dog’s diet can also give your dog an upset stomach and we always recommend continuity in a dog’s diet.
Comparing relative value of a portion of Christmas dinner with your dog’s normal dinner will show a big difference. Your dog may struggle with the emotional arousal of having sudden access to such a valuable resource. They may experience high levels of stress and urges to guard this resource. So from what we intended to be a nice gesture, we may have actually had a very negative impact on our dog’s mental wellbeing. Instead of giving your dog a special dog portion of Christmas dinner, give your dog a specially stuffed Kong to enjoy or some extra special treats (Fantastic Bob and Lush treats).
Care must also be taken during the preparation of Christmas dinner. A defrosting turkey (or any unattended food) on the kitchen worktop may prove too tempting for an agile dog. Make sure that there is no food left unattended in the kitchen if your dog has access to the kitchen. Even if you think it has been put up out of the way, your dog’s determination may surprise you. Preparing a big Christmas dinner can be stressful. This may lead to an increased chance of dropping bits of food.
All of this could be potentially dangerous to your dog. Any food ingested has the risk of upseting your dog’s stomach, it could be too hot and scald your dog’s mouth and much may also be poisonous. The best way to prepare food without risk to your dog’s health is to limit access to the kitchen to your dog and put them in a safe room with a long lasting treat (A guide to stuffing a Kong for your dog) whilst you prepare dinner.
Christmas time means that there are a lot more snacks in our homes. Always remember to never leave snacks unattended in areas that your dog has access to. A lot of the snack products such as nuts and crisps have a high salt content and if ingested by your dog can be very harmful to them. Remember that children should only be around your dogs when supervised by an adult and if they are enjoying a snack, this adult supervision is vital. Children may be tempted to give them some of their snacks as a treat. Children are also more prone to accidentally dropping snacks.
With lots of visitors in your house at Christmas, there may be an abundance of alcohol in your home. First of all, make sure that everyone who will come into contact with your dog knows that alcohol is very poisonous to dogs and that it should be kept out of their reach. Some people aren’t aware of the dangers that alcohol poses to dogs. Visitors may be tempted to intentionally give your dog alcohol as some sort of “treat” or as a “one off” because it’s Christmas. Especially if that person is under the influence of alcohol. You mustn’t allow this! You can purchase dog safe, alcohol free, beer and wine if you really want your dog to join in the drinks with you!
With the excitement of the festivities, drinks may be left unattended in places where your dog may be able to access them, such as on the floor. Make sure that you remind everyone of the dangers to your dog and that they should not leave their drinks unattended where your dog would have access to them. If you suspect that your dog has consumed alcohol, seek veterinary advice immediately (Pawsquad veterinary advice).
Remember, as your dog’s guardian, it’s up to you to make sure you all have a safe and happy Christmas.