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Keeping our pets safe at Christmas

Here are some tips to keep your Christmas festive and fun but vet free…

Many common foods and snacks we humans enjoy can be dangerous to our pets. Animals digest and metabolise food differently to humans which means what might be perfectly fine for us can be poisonous to them.

Its best to refrain from sharing human food with your pets and be very cautious about where you are leaving food that may be easily accessible to them for example wrapped chocolates and food under the Christmas tree.

Common festive foods that are not safe for our furry friends

  • Chocolate contains theobromine, a stimulant similar to caffeine, found in the cocoa bean. It is not effectively broken down in our pets’ bodies and affects their central nervous system and heart muscle. Depending on how dark the chocolate is (how much cocoa it contains), how much is eaten and the size of the animal (the smaller the dog, the more dangerous it will be). Chocolate can cause seizures, vomiting, diarrhoea and can potentially kill your pet.
  • Fruit cake and Christmas pudding often contain raisins and grapes which can cause kidney failure and death. In some cases, very small dogs have died after eating only a handful of raisins or grapes. As sensitivity to the toxins seems to vary so much from animal to animal, it is just best not to feed your dog ANY grapes or raisins or food that contains these ingredients.
  • Corn cobs can cause blockages in the small intestine that may need to be surgically removed.
  • Fatty meats such as ham on the bone as well as pork crackling can cause vomiting, bloody diarrhoea and may lead to pancreatitis. Treatment for pancreatitis often involves a stay in hospital with fluid therapy, strong pain relief, anti-nausea medication and antibiotics – and we are sure no one would want to see their pet in hospital, especially at Christmas time.
  • Alcohol and caffeine are both very toxic for pets.
  • Pits and seeds of fruits contain a substance which degrades to cyanide which is toxic. Pits of fruits can also cause blockages and damage to the intestine.
  • Macadamia nuts although unlikely to be fatal can cause very uncomfortable symptoms that can last for up to 48 hours and some dogs will need to see a vet for pain relief and possibly intravenous fluids.
  • While we love a traditional Kiwi Christmas in the sun, our pets can be at danger of heatstroke. Do not leave your pet in an enclosed space for any length of time, ESPECIALLY the car! Make sure you only exercise them during the cool parts of the day, and ensure there is always access to shade and fresh water.


The food listed above are just a few foods of concern so please stick to your regular food and include some pet friendly treats from our clinic. If you think your pet has eaten something dangerous you should call us immediately.