Advice from your pet hospital on having a safe Christmas

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Photo by Henry Lorenzatto

As a pet hospital, we’re quite mindful of holiday season. But for an entirely different reason to what you may think. Yes, we love to spend time with our family and on holidays. And yes, we love Christmas cheer.

It’s the time where most of us break out those little special treats. And also indulge more on the things we usually keep to moderation.

The temptation with our family pets is to share some of this food-laden joy. They are part of the family and love their food, after all! While we indulge in some lovely treats, it’s important to remember our family pets don’t have the same metabolism as us. And that some of the common Christmas and festive season’s treats can actually make our pets ill. So as a pet hospital, we want to avoid any kindness that may lead to sickness for our furry friends.

Let’s look at some of the pet hospital list of no-go foods and drinks when it comes to Christmas and celebrating 

Fat from the ham, pork and meat

It’s a common desire to want to share that lovely roast with all the family, but high concentrations of fat can actually make your family pet quite sick. Fat off foods like ham, pork and roasts as well as fatty foods such as sausages are not good food for our family pets.

We see patients at our pet hospital slimmers clinic as a result of rich food and over-eating. Not only does it increase their opportunity for obesity and the complications within, their bodies simply aren’t designed to cope with it. It can lead to stomach and bowel upsets- and in the worst cases, damage to the liver and other organs.

So please, keep the off cuts out of your pet’s bowl!

Marinades, sauces, seasonings and stuffing

Another issue with sharing meat with pets is the existence of marinades, sauces and seasonings. Our pets don’t fare well with garlic or onion, common ingredients in sauces and stuffing. Both in high doses can make your pet ill. If you’re unsure of what kinds of common food items cause issues, check out the pet hospital nutrition page.

Pepper, soy, chilli and fats in gravy can also upset your family pet’s tummy.  It can lead to excess wind, diarrhoea and stomach pains. All of which is unpleasant for family pet and pet parent alike.

 Cooked bones

We’ve talked about the dangers of giving pets bones many a time before. As a pet hospital, we know any kind of bone is a problem waiting to happen. But cooked bones are the worst kind of version.

Cooked bones crack and splinter easily. This makes it easy for them to break and splinter throughout your family pet’s body.

A shard of bone in the wrong place can break teeth and cut gums. It can become lodged in the throat and cut off your pet’s airway. It can travel to the stomach or to the bowel and puncture these sensitive tissues, leading to all manner of problems. Or it can become stuck in the bowel and block your family pet from going to the toilet properly- or at all.

So please, if you want to give your pet something to gnaw on, consider Greenies or specifically designed toys instead.

Sweets and artificial sweeteners

Many of the sweets on the market contain a product called Xylitol. This chemical sweetener is highly toxic to pets. It can attack the brain and liver and can cause your pet to lose balance, become lethargic and even suffer organ damage.

This is why it’s super important to keep lollies, sweets and sugar free things such as gum out from underneath the tree and away from curious noses. It also means ensuring access to sweets is restricted by placing them in containers your pet cannot get into if they are on the table.

Another note with Xylitol, make sure you check the ingredients of the peanut butter you buy. It is commonly used in peanut spreads so you may be unwittingly exposing your dog by giving a peanut Kong.

Chocolates and pudding

Whether you’re looking to gift them or serve them, chocolates and Christmas pudding are another worry where our family pets are concerned.

Chocolate, raisins, grapes and some varieties of nut are toxic to family pets. So again, the lesson is to ensure these lovely treats are not left under the Christmas tree for curious family pets to unwrap. Make sure they are also out of reach when it comes to tables and benches.

And keep an eye on kids who may have a habit of feeding what they want to share or don’t want to the family pet to avoid any mishaps.

This pet hospital has had to do more than our fair share of stomach emptying procedures due to chocolate. It’s never pretty!


Alcohol and your family pet are not friends. We shouldn’t think that sharing a drink with a pet is a fair thing to do. Not only because they may not be aware of the consequences, but also because alcohol is toxic to pets for a variety of reasons.

Wine is made from grapes and grapes are toxic to family pets. So there’s that.

Also the fermentation process used to create alcohol often involves yeast. Yeast isn’t especially good for a pet. Even uncooked dough containing yeast can make a pet ill if eaten. In fact, eating uncooked dough can trigger alcohol poisoning in your dog as a result.

Beer is another issue as it contains hops. Hops have the potential to damage your dog’s kidneys. Family pets have kidneys that aren’t equipped to handle alcohol. Even the smallest amount for your family pet can have lasting consequences on their overall health.

If your pet has managed to consume yeasty uncooked dough or alcohol, it’s important to get them to the vet for a blood test so appropriate treatment can be organised.

A safe Christmas is a happy Christmas

With a bit of mindfulness about the placement of food, you too can keep your pet happy and healthy this festive season.

Dr Alex, Dr Katie and the vet nurse and support team of Fox Valley Animal Hospital want to see each and every one of our community have a safe and healthy Christmas and New Year.

We are closed on the public holidays for Christmas, New Year and Australia Day but the vet hospital will be open the rest of the time.

Thank you for making 2016 so special. We look forward to providing quality care for your family pet at our pet hospital in 2017.

About the Author
Owner and Vet Alex Brittan, Vet Katie Syms and the team of Fox Valley Animal Hospital pride themselves on quality service. Fox Valley Animal Hospital is the one you choose for your family pet when the care your animal receives really matters.