What foods are not safe for dogs at Christmas

What foods are not safe for dogs at Christmas

Our beloved canine companions often like to share our meals and are known for their curiosity about our food. They are experts at persuading us to share our food with them when they look up at us with those longing puppy eyes! However, certain foods that are perfectly safe for humans are not safe for dogs. Being aware of these potentially harmful items is crucial to safeguarding the well-being of our furry friends.

Foods that are not safe for dogs

Macadamia nuts

Macadamia nuts are harmful to dogs. Ingesting macadamia nuts can cause vomiting, ataxia (lack of coordination), weakness, and overheating. Although the reasons for this are not yet known, for some dogs it may only take a couple of nuts to induce toxicity. Although macadamia nuts are healthy for humans, you should not give these to your dog. Also, be aware that macadamia nuts are often hidden ingredients in other foods, especially cakes, desserts and biscuits.


Despite being a delight for us, chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, substances toxic to dogs. Ingestion can lead to symptoms ranging from vomiting and diarrhea to increased heart rate, seizures, and in severe cases, fatalities. Dark chocolate is more dangerous as it contains higher levels of theobromine. For a dog weighing 10 kilos, consuming 4 ounces of milk chocoate may lead to signs of poisoning (less for dark chocolate). Our dog Lily had to go to the vet after eating just 6 triple chocolate cookies as they contained high levels of dark chocolate. Always check with your vet and provide information about the chocolate content of the product so they can assess if your dog needs to be seen. Eating chocolate can be fatal for dogs so please ensure you speak to your vet. 

Grapes and Raisins

While considered nutritious for us, these fruits can induce kidney failure in dogs. Even very small amounts may cause adverse effects like vomiting and lethargy. Be careful Fido doesn't ingest mince pies, Christmas cake or Christmas pudding as these are jam packed with these fruits and these foods are not safe for dogs to eat.

Onions and Garlic

Common in many human dishes, these ingredients, regardless of form (raw, cooked, powdered), can damage a dog's red blood cells, resulting in anemia. Indications of ingestion may include weakness, vomiting, and breathing complications.

Xylitol ( Also Known as Birch Sugar).

Often found in sugar-free products like chewing gum, sweets, and some peanut butter brands, xylitol can rapidly increase insulin levels in dogs, leading to hypoglycemia. Severe cases may result in seizures, liver failure, and death. Xylitol is now in a great many foods due to purported health benefits for humans so please read the label of any human food you may consider giving to your furry friends.


Dogs must not consume alcoholic drinks due to the potential for vomiting, diarrhea, breathing difficulties, tremors, and even coma. Be careful where you put your glasses of booze and ensure they are out of Fido's reach.


This fruit contains persin, which, in excessive amounts, can cause digestive issues, breathing difficulties, and chest fluid accumulation.The stones can also block Fido's airway so ensure you dispose of these sensibly. 


While considered natural treats, cooked bones can splinter, causing internal injuries or obstructing a dog's digestive tract. Raw bones are usually fine. 


Similar to chocolate, caffeine found in coffee, tea, or energy drinks can induce hyperactivity, tremors, seizures, and fatal consequences in dogs. As many soft drinks contain caffeine and dogs have a sweet tooth, dogs can drink caffeine based drinks if left within their reach. So make sure your cans of drinks containing very high levels of caffeine are safely kept away from Fido. Remember, a dog's sense of smell is very developed so they will find it wherever you hide it. 

Christmas Dinner

It is usually O.K. to give Fido a tiny portion of Christmas dinner as long as it doesn't contain anything known to be toxic to dogs, and is not too high in fat content. Avoid feeding roasted vegetables even as these can have very high fat content, which can upset a dog's pancreas.  If Fido has an easily upset tummy, don't risk it. Many dogs attend the vet on Christmas and Boxing day due to dietary indulgences. 


This is not an exhaustive list so please always check that any new food you are considering giving Fido is safe for dogs. Understanding these risks is pivotal in ensuring the safety and health of our canine companions. Make sure your Christmas guests are also aware so nobody sneaks Fido anything that could be harmful.

Should you suspect your dog has ingested any of these hazardous foods, immediate veterinary consultation is crucial. The sooner the better. Your vet can induce vomiting if your dog has only recently consumed something toxic thereby ensuring the toxins are not absorbed. It is not advisable to try to make your dog vomit at home without being advised to do so by a vet because they can inhale the vomit and this can cause choking. Furthermore, if your dog has eaten something caustic then it will burn on the way back up too. If you only notice later, after the toxic food has likely been digested, treatment will vary based on what your dog has consumed. 

Being mindful of what our furry friends consume is an essential, but not always easy part of responsible pet ownership, made much more difficult if we have guests who are unaware of the risks. Please make sure your guests are aware they should not feed Fido so that you can all enjoy a safe and happy family Christmas together! 

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