Overview

Christmas can be a busy and chaotic time with large quantities of food and presents left unattended.
Curious pets, particularly dogs, may investigate and eat gifts (including edible or inedible ones) left under the tree, food in the kitchen or chew on plants decorating the house.

Toxic foods
CHOCOLATE
Chocolate contains a chemical that dogs do not tolerate well. White chocolate generally does not represent a risk but milk chocolate and even a relatively small amount of dark chocolate can cause agitation, excitability, tremors, convulsions and problems with the heart.

GRAPES AND THEIR DRIED FRUITS (SULTANAS, RAISINS, CURRANTS)
Grapes and their dried products (currants, sultanas and raisins) are toxic to dogs. Ingestion of even a small quantity can cause severe kidney damage. This will also include food items that contain dried fruits such as Christmas pudding, Christmas cake and mince pies.

ALCOHOL
Dogs may help themselves to any alcohol left unattended including wine and liqueurs and it can cause similar signs in them as it does in their owners when drunk in excess. Dogs can become wobbly and drowsy and in severe cases there is a risk of low body temperature, low blood sugar and coma.

ONIONS, LEEKS AND GARLIC (INCLUDING SAGE AND ONION STUFFING, ONION GRAVY)
Onions, garlic, leeks, shallots and chives all belong to the same group of plants. They can cause toxicity even when cooked. Initially there can be gastrointestinal signs with vomiting and diarrhoea but the main effect is damage to red blood cells resulting in anaemia. This may not be apparent until several days after ingestion.

NUTS
Macadamia nuts can cause lethargy, increased body temperature, tremor, lameness and stiffness in dogs. Chocolate-coated macadamia nuts may also cause chocolate poisoning. Other nuts are generally of low toxicity although they could cause gastrointestinal upset.

LEFTOVERS
Mouldy food can be hazardous due the presence of toxic substances produced by the mould. Ingestion of mouldy food, such as bread and dairy products, can cause vomiting, tremors, a high body temperature and convulsions.

EMERGENCY ADVICE
• Call Animal PoisonLine on 01202 509000 even if your pet is showing no signs to find out whether a trip to the vet is required.
• Remove your pet from the source of poison.
• Do not try to make your pet vomit – NEVER give salt water.
• Collect the poison and take a sample/container with you if you are advised to take your pet to the vet practice.