Keeping Your Dogs and Cats Safe at Christmas

For your dogs and cats, Christmas is a time when lots of unusual and exciting things are brought into your home. As humans are especially busy and distracted this time of year, it makes the perfect opportunity for your animal companions to be tempted into all sorts of mischief !

Interesting foods, unusual plants and trees, attractive decorations and Christmas presents will be of great curiosity for your pet, but some of these things may be harmful if eaten.


Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine which is poisonous to both dogs and cats. Generally speaking, the darker and more expensive the chocolate the more theobromine it contains, and therefore the more poisonous it is.

White chocolate contains very little theobromine so it is unlikely to cause chocolate poisoning but it is still very fatty and can make your pet very ill.

Chocolate initially causes vomiting and diarrhoea, but is it also a stimulant and can lead to your pet becoming excitable, as well as developing muscle twitching, tremors, fitting and life threatening problems with their heart. Sever cases can be fatal. 

Over the Christmas period make sure that all chocolate is out of reach of your pet. This includes chocolate coins hung from the Christmas tree, advent calendars, boxes of chocolates and don’t forget the wrapped chocolate under the tree. Just because it’s wrapped doesn’t mean your pet can’t smell it !!

Raisins, Grapes, Currants & Sultanas

These are toxic to both dogs and cats and it is believed the dried forms of these fruits are more lethal than grapes. It is not known how much is poisonous, some pets have eaten large quantities of this fruit and had no ill effects, whilst others have become unwell after very small amounts.

At this time of year it is possible that these fruits are in abundance in your home. Christmas cake, Christmas pudding, fruit cake, mince pies, stolen and especially chocolate covered raisins.

As well as causing vomiting and diarrhoea, these fruits can cause kidney failure which can be delayed for 24 to 72 hours. Kidney failure may present as a decrease in urination, or show signs of increased thirst. Prompt treatment is important so if your pet does eat any amount contact your veterinarian immediately. 

Macadamia Nuts

It is not known WHY these nuts are poisonous, but macadamia nuts can cause your pet to appear weak (particularly in their hind limbs), dull, and sleepy. They may sometimes appear wobbly on their feet or in pain or stiff when walking.

Vomiting, tremors, lethargy and an increased body temperature can also occur. These symptoms usually appear within 12 hours and may last for up to 2 days. Some macadamia nuts are covered in chocolate and so pose a double risk to your pet. 

Blue Cheese

Roquefort and other blue cheeses contain a substance called roquefortine C which is an ingredient produced by the fungus used to produce these cheeses. Dogs appear sensitive to this substance and in extreme cases it can cause them to quickly develop muscle tremors and seizures which may last for up to two days.


Although wrappers are not poisonous, they can cause an obstruction in the gut if eaten. This can be dangerous and may require surgical intervention. Signs of an obstruction include vomiting, lethargy, loss of appetite and finding it difficult to pass waste matter.

Article by Just For Friends,

Advice, Dogs