For many of us, our favourite thing about Christmas is spending quality time with family and loved ones we don’t get to see very often throughout the year.
Our pets are no exception, revelling in the attention they receive from the brother who’s home from Australia or the daughter who only gets to visit once in a blue moon.
Christmas is also a time for sitting together at the table, enjoying our favourite foods. Unfortunately, this is where the similarities between us and our pets stop.
While we’d love to give them a taste of everything on our plate (as they sit there staring at each bite we take, mouth open and tongue hanging out) it’s vital for pet owners to be aware of the many traditional festive foods that can be extremely harmful to our furry family members.
The danger foods
With such an array of foods available at Christmas time, it can be hard to distinguish between what will make a tasty treat for your pet and what should be avoided at all costs.
To give you peace of mind, we’ve compiled the following list of foods that pose a danger to both cats and dogs:
Garlic, Onions, Leeks and Chives:
Each of these bulb vegetables, which are commonly found as part of a festive feast in side dishes like gravy, stuffing and mashed potatoes, are dangerous items for both cats and dogs. These foods can cause a host of problems, from diarrhoea and digestive issues to the destruction of red blood cells as a result of a condition called hemolysis.
As humans, we can indulge to our heart’s content (within reason!) in our favourite chocolatey treats at Christmas time, but our pets are unfortunately not afforded the same luxury. In fact, chocolate is highly poisonous to dogs and in extreme cases, its consumption can be fatal. The ingredient theobromine is the culprit when it comes to chocolate, and if eaten by cats or dogs, it can cause issues relating to the heart, kidneys and even central nervous system. The presence of caffeine in chocolate is also an issue, as it can cause hyperactivity, leading to further problems including tremors and seizures.
Raisins, sultanas, figs and other dried fruits are also a no-no when it comes to your pet’s festive menu. This means that traditional Christmas treats such as mince pies, fruitcake and Christmas pudding, which all contain dried fruit, should never be offered to your cat or dog. Its consumption can cause stomach upset and vomiting, or in severe cases, kidney failure.
Aside from posing a choking risk, certain nuts can be poisonous to our pets. While macadamia nuts are the big ones to avoid, others like pecans, pistachios and almonds may cause digestive issues, so it’s best to scratch nuts off the menu to avoid any issues on Christmas Day.
Many of us enjoy wrapping up our Christmas dinner with an impressive cheese plate, but be careful not to throw any scraps at your pets. Lactose intolerance is a very common problem among cats and dogs, so it’s best not to risk any reaction by feeding them cheese. Be extra vigilant with blue cheese, as dogs, in particular, are extremely sensitive to one of its ingredients – a chemical called Roquefortine C.
A turkey dinner may lead to an abundance of bones at Christmas time, but you would be doing your canine and feline friends a favour by throwing them in the compost bin instead of their dinner bowls. Aside from raw bones, which can cause salmonella, cooked bones can splinter when chewed, posing a choking hazard and potentially causing internal perforations and blockages, as well as damage to teeth and gums.
We may be popping the corks this Christmas, but our pets won’t be joining us in a toast. Alcohol has no place in a dog or cat’s diet as it can cause many distressing symptoms like vomiting and dizziness. Several popular Christmas desserts also contain their fair share of booze, so be mindful of this before accidentally offering your pet a taste.
What is safe for my cat to eat?
With so much off the menu, it may seem difficult to figure out what is safe for your cat to eat. Fortunately, there are plenty of options to choose from, including:
- Ham with all the fat removed
- Turkey with all bones and skin removed
- Vegetables like broccoli, peas, beans, carrot, parsnip, pumpkin and Brussels sprouts
- Potatoes – provided they are not overly seasoned and that any mashed potato doesn’t contain traces of garlic, onion or chives
What can I safely feed my dog?
Luckily for our canine companions, there are many delicious gourmet treats they can safely consume this Christmas. Here is a list of festive foods that are suitable for your dog:
- Turkey meat with all skin and bones removed
- Vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, peas, spinach and Brussels sprouts
- Potatoes, again ensuring they don’t contain any dangerous extra ingredients
- Cranberry sauce
There is also a range of specially formulated treats available from Mark + Chappell that will not only satisfy your dog’s appetite but will also promote the maintenance of a healthy diet this Christmas.
Aside from being a delicious option for your pet, these treats are developed to promote healthy energy, muscles and immune system and contain Omega 3 for healthy skin and coat.
Happy tummy, happy Christmas!
To ensure your pet has as wonderful a Christmas as the whole family, it’s important to be extra cautious about what they consume over the festive period.
This means quickly cleaning up any scraps of food that fall on the floor during preparation, particularly those dangerous to them. It’s also wise to avoid leaving plates or bowls containing harmful foods – and even glasses with alcoholic drinks – within slurping distance of your eager cat or dog!
Once your pet is looked after, with a belly full of healthy and satisfying foods, you can sit back, relax and celebrate a job well done!
Merry Christmas to you and yours from all at Mark + Chappell!