The UK's largest organisation dedicated to the health and
welfare of dogs, the Kennel Club, is alerting dog owners to the
dangers posed to man's best friend over the festive period and is
urging dog lovers across the UK to keep their much loved pets
Throughout the Christmas period lots of items are brought into the
home which may be of great interest to a dog, from unusual plants
and trees, to Christmas foods, decorations and presents.
Whilst many are perfectly harmless, some can prove harmful or even
fatal to dogs.
With an estimated 25% of households owning a dog[i], the Kennel Club has compiled a list to guide
dog owners in what to be careful of over Christmas, which
A number of foodstuffs can be harmful to dogs and these can cause
a number of different clinical effects, ranging from vomiting and
diarrhoea, to more severe effects such as seizures or kidney
failure, depending on what is eaten. Foods that should be
completely avoided include chocolate, raisins, grapes, currants,
sultanas, Christmas cake, Christmas pudding, fruit cake, mince
pies, stollen, macadamia nuts, blue cheese and allium species
including onions, garlic, leeks, shallots and chives. Mouldy
foods, very rich, fatty foods and alcohol can also harm dogs so
should be avoided. Turkey, goose and chicken bones can easily
splinter, particularly when cooked, and can cause obstruction and
gut irritation and can penetrate the stomach or intestinal
Certain plants that are brought into the house more commonly at
Christmas can poison a dog or obstruct their airways if
consumed. Plants that can cause drooling and varying degrees
of stomach upset if eaten by a dog include poinsettia, holly,
mistletoe and ivy. Eating potpourri can also result in a
tummy upset, but may cause other more serious effects depending on
which dried plants have been used. Most species of Christmas tree
are relatively low-toxic but oils from the needles can irritate the
mouth and stomach or can cause an obstruction.
Christmas presents are often just as intriguing and exciting for
dogs as they are for humans, and can present a number of health
concerns. Electronic gifts and toys often contain batteries,
which if chewed and punctured by a dog can cause chemical burns or
may obstruct the airways. Other items which may obstruct a
dog's airways include small toys or gifts with small parts,
wrapping paper or crepe paper, Christmas decorations, including
baubles and tinsel hanging from the Christmas tree and plastic
materials used for wrapping presents. Signs of airways
obstruction can include vomiting, lethargy, a lack of interest in
food, not defecating or finding it difficult to defecate.
Care should be taken when using antifreeze products, which contain
the chemical ethylene glycol, which can be lethal when ingested by
dogs. The sweet taste of antifreeze makes it tempting for
dogs, so products should be stored in secure containers away from
pets. If using antifreeze, make sure that your pets are kept
well away and if any is spilt ensure that it is cleaned up.
Nick Sutton, Kennel Club Health Information Officer and former
veterinary toxicologist, said: "There is no reason dogs can't enjoy
Christmas with their families just as much as their owners do,
however we would thoroughly recommend being cautious and keeping
anything that may pose a risk to your beloved family pet in a safe
place and out of sight and smell of your dog.
"Many dogs die or become very ill every Christmas from eating
things they shouldn't and this is mostly avoidable. An
emergency trip to the vets on, or around, Christmas day is the last
thing you or your dog want. Christmas for many people is an
exciting and busy time, but to avoid your dog becoming unwell, try
to remember that many items associated with Christmas can be very
tempting but harmful for a dog, particularly if left
unattended. If you believe your dog has eaten anything it
shouldn't have, seek veterinary advice immediately and let the vet
know what your dog has eaten, when it ate it and how much was
consumed. Never try and make your dog sick if it eats
something it shouldn't have, as this can make things worse.
"It is a good idea to get a couple of new toys for dogs to play
with during the Christmas period and to give them a good deal of
exercise outside to keep them occupied and away from things that
may cause them harm.
For further information about what can cause harm to your dog at
Christmas, visit www.thekennelclub.org.uk/health/dogs-at-christmas.
[i] Pet Food Manufacturers' Association
Pet Population 2014 report.