While Christmas can be a fun time for spending time with family and relaxing, it also pays to be vigilant to ensure your pet has a great Christmas too.  Here are a few Christmas catastrophes that can be avoided:


Chocolate is toxic for dogs.  The darker the chocolate the higher the danger but all chocolate (except white chocolate) can cause tremours, seizures, increased heart rate and even death in dogs.  One common way dogs access chocolate is when it is wrapped as a present under the tree and left unattended – their superior noses have ways of finding it through wrapping and plastic covering.  If your dog has consumed chocolate contact your vet immediately for advice.

Tinsel and ribbons

Some cats love chewing on tinsel and ribbons.  If they eat these it can cause a obstruction in their gut which may require emergency surgery.  To avoid this, pack up all wrapping once presents have been given out and discourage your cat from chewing tinsel on the tree.

Rich food and leftovers

It is hard to resist those puppy dog eyes when they want to share your roast on Christmas but ensuring your dog or cat don’t overindulge is saving them from some potentially dangerous consequences.  Rich and fatty food can cause vomiting and diarrhea, or in more extreme cases pancreatitis which is very painful and requires veterinary treatment.  Ensure your guests understand that they are not to give your pet ‘tidbits’ either, if you have 30 people giving your pet a small snack each that ends up being a lot of food!

Just like us, cats and dogs can get food poisoning from food that hasn’t been stored or heated/cooled correctly.  If they are going to have leftovers, please ensure you serve it as you would to the human members of your family to avoid any upset tummies.

BBQ dangers

Having a Christmas barbie is an Australian tradition but can cause issues for your furry friend.  Dogs and cats should never be fed cooked bones as these can break and splinter and cause internal injuries that may require surgery.  Also skewers should be kept out of dogs reach at all times, they can swallow them intact or almost intact and again cause gut issues that require surgery.

Once you have finished cooking please place a cover on your BBQ as many curious cats and dogs have suffered burns jumping up to see if they can lick the plate clean.

Onions and Garlic

Ingestion of onions and garlic can lead to anaemia in dogs and should be avoided.  Don’t forget they may be cooked into many foods over Christmas.

Macadamia nuts

Macadamia nuts can be toxic to dogs.  Be aware of any wrapped and left under the tree and keep them out of reach.  This includes any cookies or other items of food that may have macadamias in them. If your dog does eat any macadamia nuts contact your vet immediately.

Grapes and Sultanas

Grapes and sultanas can cause kidney failure in dogs.  As with macadamia nuts keep them out of reach, no Christmas cake for your dog.

Christmas Lilies

All parts of Christmas lilies including the water they are stored in are toxic to cats and can cause kidney failure.  If you have a cat the safest option is to not let any lilies in the house.  If you are buying them as gifts please ensure the recipients don’t have cats.

Dairy – cheese, ice-cream, milk, cream etc

It may surprise you to find out that most cats and some dogs are lactose intolerant.  Feeding them dairy can cause an upset tummy and diarrhoea.   Avoidance is the best option.

Stone fruit

Some dogs love gobbling up stone fruit but they don’t know to spit out the pip.  Sometimes these pips can get lodged in their intestines and cause an obstruction.  It is a particular problem if you have a fruit tree in your garden and your pet eats multiple pips (although just one can cause an obstruction).  The pips of some stone fruits also contain amygdalin which breaks down to the poison hydrogen cyanide so they are best avoided.


If it is a hot Christmas ensure that you follow all your precautions for keeping your pet healthy during hot weather.  Check our ‘Heat Stress’ blog for more detailed information.

Snakes or ticks

If you are going to be away from home this Christmas ensure you research any potential dangers in the area you are going to.  This may include snakes or paralysis ticks.  Local vets in the area you are going may have information on their websites.  We can give advice on products to protect your pet from ticks if you are going to a tick prone area.  It is also a good idea to save the phone number of the vet in the area where you are going in case of an emergency.

Lots of guests

Some pets just want to spend Christmas with you and may not enjoy having lots of people around.  While everyone wants to pat and cuddle your pet be aware of any signs that they are getting stressed and provide them with a space where they can relax and feel safe away from the noise and excitement.


We hope that you have a safe and happy festive period.  If you have any questions from anything raised in this blog please don’t hesitate to contact us.