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funny facesNo dogs were harmed in the taking of this embarrassing photo.

How Good is All the Food at Christmas!

Christmas is the time for loads of tasty treats, with tables spread as far as the eye can see with incredible mountains of food.  There’s seriously food everywhere you look. I personally like to try a bit of everything, and then eat my own body weight in chocolate.

Weight gain like I expect to experience over the festive season is not the only problem our four legged counterparts experience from all these scrumptious delights.

fat catI’m not fat, I’m just big boned…

Sadly, this time of year veterinary clinics are inundated with not-so-festive feeling pets.

Fatty or very rich foods (like a nice roast or meat off the bbq) are not well tolerated by our pets and are a fast track to pancreatitis.  This is a potentially fatal condition that at best will result in a few days feeling very miserable in hospital. It is also very common.  Do your pets a favor and slap anyone on the hand (or where ever you see fit) who tries to feed them off the Christmas table. (I’m not pointing any fingers. Dad.)

Cooked bones are another major danger.  There are plenty of them around when people are feasting, and they are brittle, splinter easily, and can obstruct and/or perforate gastrointestinal tracts.  Please, never ever throw your dog a (cooked) bone.

Other naughty festive foods that have the potential to make pets very ill include mince pies and Christmas pudding.


EVER! Ever, ever, ever, ever!  Yes, some of us vets and vet nurses do enjoy the occasional, weekly, okay, constant supply of, chocolate, but having to make a dog vomit up rivers of partially digested chocky treats is not fun for anyone. Chocolate toxicity is really very common, so let’s all remember to keep them out of reach.

Theobromine is the substance in chocolate that makes our pets ill, and the darker the chocolate, the higher the levels of theobromine.  An average size dog need only ingest a few squares of dark chocolate to get sick.

Signs of chocolate toxicity include vomiting, diarrhoea, weakness, loss of balance, and seizures.  This can lead to death. If you think your pet may have eaten chocolate it’s really important to contact your vet immediately.


http://kcarnell.tumblr.com/I know! Those puppy dog eyes are so convincing! But no chocolate, okay.

You so pretty. Imma eat you up!

Tinsel and ribbons and pretty little baubles for the tree can be unbearably tempting for dogs and cats alike.  Tinsel is a big problem with cats particularly, because it’s so fun to play with (and eat!).  These lovely things can end up in lodged in little bellies.

dog tinselNom nom nom!

Yes, the picture above is my own dog, Anika (many, many years ago).  I hang my head in shame! I can make all the excuses in the world, but the bottom line is, this is BAD.  I really do recommend you ensure nothing of this sort is accessible to furry family members.

cat christmas tree

Image: www.catster.com

Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree, your ornaments are history!

Any cat owner knows cats simply can’t resist shiny, sparkly things on strings.  While playing with them and batting them around isn’t going to hurt anyone, if they accidentally get eaten this is really bad news.  Flashy strings of lights can also be tempting and dangerous.

12 dangers of christmas

Image: www.buzzfeed.com

Options to make things a bit safer for our canine companions include putting a playpen around the Christmas tree and/or placing all ornaments etc high enough to be out of reach. Our feline friends, however, will most likely laugh in the face of such measures.

I hate to ruin Christmas, but, maybe don’t have any of these things where your cat can get to them…

Attack of the Christmas Plants

I do love a real Christmas tree – to me the smell brings back all the excitement and joy of jumping out of bed and rushing out to see what Santa has left us under the tree.  Some pets find pine needles really intriguing though, and if your pet is one of those with a penchant for such spikey green delicacies, they might give you a nice pile of vomit and diarrhoea for Christmas.

Holly can cause severe tummy trouble or worse if ingested, and same with mistletoe which can further lead to collapse and death.  Poinsettias can irritate the mouth and stomach and sometimes also cause vomiting. Keep in mind that these traditional Christmas plants can also affect your two-legged kids if they decide to gobble them up (don’t laugh, my kids would totally do it).

Christmas plantsFrom left to right, the evil trifecta of holly, poinsettias and mistletoe

And For Those Who Can’t Be Bothered Reading, Here’s a Handy Picture!

12 dangers of Christmas

Some of these things obviously aren’t unique to Chistmas, but are deserving of a mention nonetheless.  Feel free to copy the pic and share it with your nanna, who you just know is going to sneak the dog some nice pork crackling, or with uncle Jim who thinks it’s funny to feed beer to other peoples’ pets.

It’s getting hot in here

naked dog

Image: http://scenesfromtheworld.tumblr.com/

So take off all your clothes…

There is one more thing to mention for my fellow Australians and other friends south of the equator.  The festive season is in the peak of summer for us, so keep those pets safe from the scorching heat, ensure they always have access to clean fresh water, and never ever leave an animal in a hot car.

And Just One More Thing…

Giving pets as surprise gifts is not a great idea.  Choosing to welcome an animal into your home for the entirety of it’s life is a huge decision that shouldn’t be made on impulse or by anyone other than the person who is going to be responsible for it.  Animal shelters overflow with unwanted pets after Christmas and this is really heartbreaking.

On a lighter note, I hope you all made it onto Santa’s nice list this year and have wonderful, happy holidays.

Stay safe and give your pet a hug from me.

Santa with cat

Image: Funny.com

Joanna Paul

Dr. Joanna Paul BVSc (hons) BSc

Jo is a practicing small animal veterinarian based in Melbourne, Australia. Working in partnership with loving pet owners to ensure their fur-kids remain happy, healthy family members life-long is what brings her joy. Well, that and taking naps. Jo strongly believes that helping to maintain the wonderful bond between a pet and their human is reason enough for a happy dance.

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Showing 2 comments
  • Pawesome Cats

    These are all good reminders – the health and safety of our pets should always come first! Merry Christmas Jo.

    • Joanna Paul

      Thank you Tracy 🙂
      Merry Christmas and a happy new year to you too xx

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