Part 2

 Top 7 toxic Christmas food and drinks you need to keep away from your pets

 1. Christmas cake, Christmas pudding, mince pies

Grapes, and their dried products (raisins, sultanas and currants) are a potential cause for concern and can cause kidney damage and even kidney failure. Don’t feed grapes to your pets as treats, and make sure that foods including Christmas cakes and Christmas puddings, mince pies and stollen are all kept safely out of sight and out of reach.

2. Chocolate

Chocolate, normally a year-round presence in most homes, is available in abundance around this time of year: on the tree, under the tree, in Advent calendars, in boxes, yule logs, all of which will prove temptation to our pets. Chocolate contains a chemical similar to caffeine, which dogs do not tolerate very well; cats are also at risk, but are less likely to over-indulge. Vomiting, hyperactivity and tremors may initially be seen, with heart problems developing in more severe cases. Dark chocolate is the most dangerous to dogs, with milk chocolate next.  White chocolate is NOT toxic to our pets.

3. Alcohol

Any alcohol left unattended or within easy reach of pets is liable to cause similar signs as in their owners: wobbliness and drowsiness may be seen and in severe cases, there is a risk of low body temperature, low blood sugar and coma. Dogs seem particularly fond of whisky-based cream drinks.

4. Macadamia nuts

Macadamia nuts, often left in easy-to reach bowls or trays, are also tempting to dogs, and can cause lethargy, high body temperature, lameness and stiffness. If large quantities are involved, there would also be the risk of gastrointestinal obstruction.

5. Onions

Any of the members of the Allium plant family, such as onions, garlic, leeks, shallots and chives, can cause anaemia when ingested by animals, so sage and onion stuffing, casseroles, turkey curry and roast vegetables should be kept well out of reach, and not fed as treats. Although there may initially be gastrointestinal signs such as vomiting and diarrhoea, anaemia may not be apparent for several days after ingestion.

6. Left-over food

By Photo taken by Muu-karhu (Own work) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 (

There is usually a great deal of food in the home over the festive season and it may not all get eaten. Mouldy food is hazardous to pets as the moulds produce toxic compounds that, if eaten, can cause tremors and fits in animals. These effects can occur soon after ingestion and can be distressing for the pet and owner.  Make sure you do not leave food out and that bin lids are secure.

7. Icing sugar and marzipan

Christmas cake can cause kidney damage due to the dried fruits, and the icing may cause a mild gastrointestinal upset if eaten in excess. If your dog helps themselves to the icing sugar there may be watery diarrhoea and vomiting. Marzipan is made from sugar and ground almonds and can be on fruits cakes and in stollen. It is edible but may cause stomach upset if eaten in excess.


If you are concerned that your dog or any other pet may have eaten anything potentially poisonous and would like to know if it needs to be seen immediately by a vet, call Animal PoisonLine on 01202 509000. One of our veterinary poisons specialists will be able to tell you if a trip to the vet is required. We are always here 24 hours a day to help you and your pets.