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Which Christmas Foods and Items are Poisonous to Cats and Dogs?


A Guide to keeping your pets safe this Christmas.

Christmas is known for delightful foods and pretty decorations, but did you know some can be a serious threat to cats and dogs?

We’ll explore the Christmas foods and items that could harm your pets and how to keep them safe during the festive season.

We know that not every situation can be avoided. So, If your pet becomes unwell, it’s important to get them seen by a vet as soon as possible. Avoid the financial stress and make sure your pets are covered with pet insurance.

Can my cat or dog eat chocolate?

Kitten looking at chocolate and 2 oranges

Chocolate is everywhere during the holidays. However, chocolate can be toxic to your cat or dog. This is because of the cocoa, which contains Theobromine, a chemical known as an ‘alkaloid’ – which is poisonous to cats and dogs.[1] Dark chocolate is even more dangerous for pets due to its high cocoa content. Chocolate also contains caffeine. Dogs and cats are more sensitive to caffeine than humans and high amounts of it can be toxic to them.

While chocolate obviously has near to no cocoa powder but does contain cocoa butter. It still isn’t recommended for pets, due to the high fat and sugar content.

What are the symptoms of chocolate poisoning?

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Hyperactivity
  • Tremors, seizures, or fits
  • Heart problems
  • Death, in severe cases

Contact a vet immediately if your pet consumes any chocolate.

Remember to keep all chocolate products shut away and out of your pet’s reach.

Can my cat or dog eat Christmas pudding, cake or fruit?

Santa Claus with real white beard indoors Log Cabin. Grandpa cooking treat, gingerbread, pudding for Christmas Eve Party. Senior model with real beard cosplay Father Christmas playing with dog fox terrier

Christmas pudding, Christmas cake and mince pies are festive favourites. However, all of these can contain dried grapes in the form of raisins, currants, or sultanas.

Fresh grapes and dried vine fruits like sultanas, currants and raisins can cause severe kidney failure if eaten by your cat or dog.[2] Strangely, the reason for this is not exactly known but it nearly always effects the kidneys and can result in renal failure.[3] This means that time is important, and your pet should be seen by a vet as soon as possible.

Your local vet surgery should have an out of hours emergency appointments running throughout the festive season. Though this may come at an extra cost. Make sure you’re covered with the correct pet insurance.

What are the symptoms of grape poisoning?

The symptoms of grape poisoning are similar in both cats and dogs. These are:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Stomach pain
  • Tiredness or weakness
  • Excessive thirst
  • Dehydrated (panting or dry nose)
  • Changes in urination pattern
  • Changes to appetite
  • Collapse

Make sure to keep that Christmas cake out of reach along with the grapes on your cheese board.

Stuffing and gravy

A white oval bowl of stuffing on an orange stripped mat and a silver spoon

Stuffing and gravy can contain ingredients like onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, and chives. These are part of the Allium family and contain a compound called N-propyl disulfide.[4] This is a toxic compound that can harm pets’ red blood cells and lead to life-threatening anaemia.

What are the symptoms of allium poisoning?
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Changes to appetite
  • Sleepiness
  • Rapid breathing

If your pet has eaten any foods containing onions or other allium products, contact your vet for advice. It’s important to remember that symptoms are often delayed, so seek advice even if your pet seems healthy.

Can I give my pets leftover bones?

Dog Stealing Christmas Turkey From Counter

During the holiday season, there’s nearly always leftover carcasses and meats. It can be tempting to give in to the puppy dog eyes but beware of bones. They can pose a choking hazard or splinter, leading to internal damage. Avoid giving cats and dogs any bones, especially cooked ones, and securely dispose of leftovers so they can’t be tempting to steal out of the kitchen bin.[5]

Which Christmas plants are toxic to pets?  

French Bulldog dog wearing Christmas mistletoe headband between festive decoration

We often decorate our homes with festive plants in the run up to Christmas. Mistletoe, Poinsettia, Holly, and Ivy are classic Christmas decorations, but they can be toxic to pets if ingested.[6]

Symptoms of poisoning

  • Vomiting,
  • Diarrhoea
  • Difficulty breathing.

Opt for pet-safe alternatives, like fake versions or place them out of your pet’s reach.

Are real Christmas trees safe for my pets? What about ornaments?

Ginger cat hidden behind fallen Christmas tree. Broken balls on the floor.

Christmas trees, often Fir, Spruce, or Pine, are generally non-toxic to cats and dogs, but caution is necessary. Fallen needles can get stuck in paws or be ingested. This can cause issues for paws, upset stomachs and mouth irritation if chewed. Here are a few other ornament related safety tips:

  • Pets, especially cats, may climb the tree or cause it to topple, so make sure it’s sturdy and supervise them around the tree for safety.
  • Ornaments, tinsel, and shiny objects can be harmful if ingested, causing intestinal blockages and digestive issues. Keep decorations higher on the tree and avoid using tinsel if you have pets.
  • Keep an eye on your Christmas tree lights. They could pose a risk of strangulation, burns and even electrocution if the wires are chewed while plugged in.
  • Remember to always supervise your pets around electrics and decorations, keeping cables tucked away and out of reach where possible.

This holiday season, prioritise your pet’s safety by being mindful of the potential dangers. Be prepared for the unexpected and get your pet covered with pet insurance. Keep the festivities pet-friendly, and you’ll have a Christmas filled with joy and peace of mind.

For more ways to keep your pet safe, Check out our blog 9 Steps to Puppy Proof your Home.

Get a Pet Insurance Quote today!