Festive Foods for Pets to Avoid

There’s always plenty of delicious food and drink around at Christmas and it can be just as tempting for our pets to snaffle it as it is for us.

However, no matter how much your pet might want to share your Christmas treats, it’s important to resist giving in to them.

You might think that you’re making your pet happy, but you could actually be doing them more harm than good. Plain turkey meat won’t hurt your pet, but there are some foods that really could make them unwell.

Pets and festive food...what foods your pets should avoid. Cat and dog under a Christmas tree.

Here are the foods your pet should avoid this festive season.

Grapes and raisins

Grapes and raisins contain a toxin that can damage your cat or dog’s kidneys. Don’t forget that raisins are also a key ingredient in Christmas pudding, fruit cake and mince pies, so keep these away from your pet too.

If your pet ingests grapes or raisins, they may show any of the following symptoms; Loss of appetite, lethargy or weakness, abdominal pain, dehydration, increased thirst, increased or decreased urine production, vomiting and/or diarrhoea.


Aside from the fact that nuts can be a serious choking hazard for your pet (even if they chew them, the shells can get stuck in their throat), some nuts contain toxins that can be dangerous, especially to dogs.

Macadamia nuts contain a toxin that can affect the functioning of your dog’s digestive, muscle and nervous systems, resulting in weakness, breathlessness and swollen legs.

Pecans and walnuts are too high in fat as well as being too large and difficult for dogs to digest.  They often cause an upset stomach, even in small quantities, and are best avoided and kept out of your dog’s reach.

Onions and garlic

Onions and garlic are staple ingredients in cooking, especially at Christmas, but are toxic to dogs and cats.

They contain a substance called tiosulphate, delivering a toxic compound that damages the oxygen-carrying substance found in red blood cells called hemoglobin.  The toxins damage the red blood cells, causing anaemia, and in more severe cases can lead to organ damage, organ failure, or even death.


Even in a small amounts, the effects of alcohol could cause your pet to become disorientated, find breathing difficult and, in the worst case, death.

Turkey bones

You may think that giving your pet the chance to eat the scraps of meat off the cooked turkey bones is the perfect Christmas treat.

However, this can actually be very dangerous as turkey bones are hollow, which means they break easily. Not only does this mean your pet might choke, a splintered bone might cut your pet’s intestines or stomach.


Chocolate can be very dangerous for dogs and if consumed in large amounts can be life threatening. It’s important to remember the toxicity of chocolate depends on the dog’s weight, type of chocolate as well as the amount the dog digests.

Chocolate contains the ingredient theobromine, which for humans is easy to digest, but for our furry friends, not so much. Within large amounts, chocolate poisoning can produce various reactions, such as muscle tremors, seizures, an irregular heartbeat, vomiting, diarrhoea and rapid breathing.

If you really do want to give your pet a treat this Christmas, buy them their own specially formulated cat or dog chocolate.

Keep leftovers out of reach

It’s important to consider that, even if you don’t actively give these foods to your pet, they may be able to get to them in other ways.

Be sure to clear plates and put wrappers and boxes into a bin out of the reach of paws. Even the smallest trace of some of these festive food products can make your pet unwell.

Buying your pet their own Christmas treats can be a good way to distract them from wanting your own festive food.

If you suspect that your pet has accidentally eaten any of these foods over the Christmas period, or at any other point in the year, you should not hesitate to seek advice from your vet.

Get a quote for pet insurance now

As always, it’s a good idea to have a pet insurance policy in place in case of any accidental ‘snacks’ or festive mishaps.

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