It’s the time of year to deck the halls and eat chocolate before breakfast! While it’s a wonderful time to spend with family, you need to be aware of the dangers around this time of year for your pets.

Emergency pet service Vets Now sees a 788% increase in chocolate poisoning cases over Christmas Day and Boxing Day alone! New research shows that while 93% of dog owners are aware chocolate is poisonous to their pet, 32% of pets have fallen ill after eating some. It’s not just chocolate you need to watch out for. Many of the things we love for our Christmas roast can actually be harmful to our dog.

To keep your pet safe at home and avoid an emergency here is a helpful list of hazards all pet owners should be aware of over the Christmas period.

Food and Drink

  1. Chocolate

At the top of most hazard lists, chocolate can be extremely poisonous to dogs as well as cats, even in small quantities.

  1. Christmas Puddings and Mince Pies

Grapes, raisins, currants, and sultanas are toxic to dogs. While they are holiday staples, keep the mince pies away from places your dog can reach to avoid any potential accidents.

  1. Blue Cheese

While cheese should be avoided in general, dogs are especially sensitive to blue cheese which contains a substance called roquefortine C.

  1. Garlic, Chives, and Onions

All part of the Allium species, these can be found in a lot of human festive foods like gravy, stuffing, and sausages. Unfortunately, plants from the Allium species are very poisonous to dogs and should be avoided.

  1. Nuts

While peanut butter (that does not contain xylitol) can be eaten in small quantities, other nuts should be avoided at Christmas. For example, almonds and pistachios are not toxic to your dog, they can cause an upset stomach or an intestinal obstruction. Other nuts such as walnuts, pecans and macadamia nuts all contain toxins that are extremely detrimental to your dog’s health, causing a range of problems from upset stomachs to neurological symptoms.

  1. Alcohol

Even a teaspoon of alcohol can cause severe problems for your pet, including liver and brain damage. Keep an eye on drinks left unattended especially if you have a cheeky pet!

  1. Bones

It might be tempting to share your Christmas turkey or ham with your dog, but you need to watch out for bones, big and small. Bones can cause obstructions, get caught in their throat and can even pierce the wall of your dog’s stomach. If you do want to share a bit of turkey, make sure there are no bones by breaking up the meat in your hands first.


  1. Tinsel

It looks like fun to play with, but tinsel can cause blockages in a dog’s stomach.

  1. Christmas lights and Fairy Lights

If your dog is a chewer it would be best to keep wires out of their reach to avoid them being burnt or potentially electrocuted.

  1. Candles

Lit candles should never be left unattended or within reach of your dog’s nose! There is also a risk of them falling over if knocked by your pet.

  1. Salt Dough Ornaments

Fun for kids, salt dough decorations can cause a serious problem if your pet eats them. The mix of flour and salt can cause salt toxicosis which could prove fatal to your dog.

  1. Christmas Plants

Foliage found at Christmas time like poinsettia, mistletoe, and ivy are mildly toxic to cats and dogs so should be avoided or kept away from your pets. Lilies are also very dangerous and extremely toxic to cats and sometimes smaller dogs.

  1. Wrapping paper

With so much around on Christmas day, watch out for food orientated dogs! Eating a large amount of paper can cause an obstruction in their stomach.

Anti-Freeze and Grit

During winter, ensure to clean your dog’s paws and legs after a walk to ensure there is no grit or salt stuck to their pads that could cause irritation. When digested, grit can also cause serious problems for your pet.

Anti-freeze used on our windscreens and even on pathways can also be very poisonous to dogs. Do not leave anti-freeze bottles out where they could be spilled or even chewed.

If an accident does happen and your pet has eaten anything that could be harmful, you should call your vet for advice immediately.

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