Christmas dangers

to avoid this festive season

With the Christmas season upon us, it’s important to remember that many of the festive goodies us humans will be enjoying pose a real threat to your dog’s health and well-being.

In 2016, we surveyed 2,000 pet owners and found that although more than half of dog owners (56%) understand the dangers of feeding their pets human foods, over two-thirds were still planning to dish up Christmas dinner leftovers to their canine companions. 15% of those surveyed also admitted to having previously sought veterinary advice on Boxing Day, as their dog had become so unwell.

We've created a handy list of festive dangers, to (hopefully) help you get through the festive season accident-free!

Top 5 festive dangers for your dog


Garlic, leeks, shallots, chives & onions all belong to the same plant family and are toxic to your dog. Symptoms can initially include vomiting and diarrhoea and can go on to attack a dog’s red blood cells and cause life-threatening anaemia. Onions are often included in gravy and stuffing over the festive season, so be sure to avoid feeding these to your pup.


Gravy can contain high levels of salt, which can cause kidney damage. At Christmas gravy often includes onion too – so be sure to avoid gravy.

Grapes, raisins & sultanas

Commonly used in some of our favourite festive desserts like mince pies & Christmas pudding – grapes, raisins & sultanas are toxic to dogs and in severe cases cause renal failure.


Chocolate contains theobromine, a toxic stimulant that can cause sickness, diarrhea and can even prove fatal. Most dog owners are aware of the danger chocolate can pose, but it’s especially important to be vigilant over the Christmas period when you may be unaware that you have chocolate lurking under your tree.


Leftover turkey may seem like the safe option, but splinters from cooked poultry bones can splinter and get stuck in the dog’s throat or pierce intestinal tracts.

Other dangers to look out for


Alcohol can have a similar effect in dogs as it does in their owners when drunk in excess. They can become wobbly and drowsy and in severe cases, there is a risk of low body temperature, low blood sugar and coma. Dogs may help themselves to any unattended alcohol left lying around over Christmas, so make sure it's always out of their reach.

Macadamia nuts

Macadamia nuts can cause lethargy, increased body temperature, tremor, lameness and stiffness in dogs.


If there is any food left over at Christmas, be careful to dispose of it well and keep it out of the reach of your four-legged friend. Not only may the food include ingredients toxic to dogs, mould in leftovers (including yoghurt, bread and cheese) can produce toxins that cause rapid onset convulsions in dogs.

Artificial sweetners

Xylitol is often found in the sweets we consume over Christmas, as well as in chewing gums, mouthwashes, toothpastes and supplements. It's poisonous to dogs and, although the amounts in different products vary, even one to two pieces of chewing gum can cause toxic effects in a small dog. It can induce the release of insulin in the body, resulting in low blood sugar and sometimes liver damage. Signs of poisoning can be rapid or delayed, and include vomiting, lethargy, convulsions and comas.

Christmas plants

Many of our favourite Christmas plants (including your Christmas tree) can cause irritation to the mouth and stomach, so keep an eye out for Poinsetta, Holly, Mistletoe, Amaryllis & Christmas cactus - all very beautiful & worthy decorations that could give you an unwell pup this season.

Remember, if you suspect that your dog has eaten anything it shouldn't have or is displaying unusual symptoms - get in touch with your vet right away.