Keeping your dog healthy this Christmas: 7 festive treats your dog must never eat 

4 minute read

The silly season is upon us, which means lots of festive cooking and treats. But some of the foods we tend to have around the house this time of year - from mince pies to Christmas chocolates - are surprisingly dangerous for dogs. 

  • Dogs will eat anything and everything - be aware of the foods that could cause serious problems
  • The British Veterinary Association says the most commonly reported cases of toxic ingestion for dogs last year was chocolate poisoning 
  • If your dog gets his paws on any of these toxic foods, expect a hefty vet bill

Some of our favourite festive foods can be toxic to our dogs.

One of the ways we reward our dogs when they've been good is to treat them with food. But watch out - what we consider a treat, especially at Christmas, can be extremely dangerous for dogs. To prevent a trip to the emergency vet this festive season, here are seven foods to avoid giving your pooch.


1. Chocolate

It's hard to imagine how something so delicious could ever be harmful. But as all good dog owners know, chocolate can be extremely poisonous for dogs. Chocolate contains naturally-occurring chemicals – caffeine and theobromine. Dogs who eat chocolate can suffer from vomiting, heart palpitations, tremors, seizures and even death. Save your dog a trip to the vets and keep chocolate well out of your pooch's reach. 


2. Onion and garlic

You'd never think the humble onion could upset your dog's digestion so much. Or that an accidentally gulped bulb of garlic could lead to red blood cell damage. Avoid giving your dog onions and garlic – even if it's just a small amount amongst other table scraps. Interestingly, cats are more susceptible to getting ill from eating onions but dogs are also at risk if they've scoffed a lot.


3. Avocado

A delicious tub of fresh guacamole, or thick slices of gooey avocado on a salad is such a treat for humans – but can be extremely bad for dogs. Avocados contain a toxin called persin, which can cause upset stomachs, breathing difficulties or even fluid build-up in your dog's chest. Even more dangerous is the slippery stone in the middle. It can be a choking hazard if it gets stuck in a dog's throat, or cause pain and suffering if swallowed. 


4. Raisins and grapes 

At Christmas, raisins are everywhere - mince pies, Christmas cake, Christmas pudding, and chocolate covered raisins. Unfortunately, the most poisonous fruit your dog can eat are grapes and raisins. Many dogs get very ill after eating these, suffering from vomiting, dehydration, diarrhoea and even rapid kidney failure. 


5. Corn on the cob

Corn on the cob may seem like a delicious and healthy treat for both humans and dogs, but our canine pals can't easily digest sweetcorn. If they swallow the cob too, it can get trapped in their digestive system, leading to intestinal blockage and abdominal pain. 


6. Macademia nuts

These nuts are a no-no for your dog. Scientists don't know why this popular human treat affects dogs so badly, but you'll know if your dog has sneakily eaten macadamia nuts: he may become weak and have trouble walking, get tremors or even hypothermia. 


7. Chewing gum

This seems like a no brainer – although sometimes our dog's breath is so bad that it might be very tempting to give him gum. Sugar-free chewing gum (in fact, any food containing xylitol, an artificial sweetener) is highly toxic for dogs. Even a small amount can lead to lethargy, vomiting, seizures and liver problems. Keep sugar-free foods well out of your dog's reach. If you want to freshen his breath, try giving him a carrot instead. 


And what about that one food that your dog can eat but shouldn't?

Cooked bones! You'd think that giving your dog the leftover bones from your Sunday roast would be a delicious treat, and your dog would certainly agree.

Unfortunately for Rover, bones can often lead to an emergency trip to the vets. Roasting meat makes the bones inside more brittle, meaning they're likely splinter when your dog starts to chew on them.  

Dogs can break their teeth on tougher bones and shards of bone can get stuck in their mouth, throat, stomach and intestines. In the worst cases, this can be life threatening and may need emergency surgery to remove. 

So, sorry boy – cooked bones are off the menu. Raw bones from your butcher are safe, but check with your vet if in doubt. 


What to do if your dog has eaten one of these forbidden foods.

If your dog becomes poorly after accidentally eating any of these foods, take him straight to your vet. The vet can induce vomiting, put your pooch on a drip and do everything they can to make him feel better.  Take note of your vet's opening hours over Christmas, and make a note of the emergency out of hours vet too. 

Vet bills can be extremely expensive – especially if your dog needs surgery. It's worth making sure your canine companion has pet insurance in case you ever need to make a claim.