Give pets a happy and healthy Christmas!

Kate Semple, Ark House Vets, MPLO
Kate Semple, Ark House Vets, MPLO

By Kate Semple, Director, Ark House Vets, Hockliffe Street, Leighton Buzzard...

We all like to eat, drink and be merry over the festive season. Just be careful that your pets stay healthy this Christmas by keeping these goodies off their menu!

Chocolate is poisonous for all pets, so you don’t need to feel guilty about eating at all yourself! Even a tiny amount of chocolate (for example, a couple of squares of dark chocolate for a small dog) is likely to make them ill.

It causes vomiting and diarrhoea, sometimes even fatal convulsions. Keep chocolate well out of reach, but if your pet still manages to get hold of some, contact your vet for advice straight away. We see a lot of chocolate poisoning, don’t let your pet be one of those affected!

Grapes (also raisins, sultanas, currants) are incredibly toxic to some dogs and cats, causing serious kidney failure, whilst others appear to be fine. It’s not worth the risk to find out. Don’t forget that Christmas cake, Christmas pudding and mince pies all contain lots of raisins, currants and sultanas.

Nuts including peanuts, macadamia nuts and monkey nuts can cause stomach upsets, twitching and occasionally convulsions.

Onions (raw or cooked, also garlic, leeks, shallots) can cause an upset stomach and can trigger anaemia. Don’t forget that stuffing and gravy may contain onions too!

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener, which is often found in sugar free chewing gum, medicines and processed foods. It’s really dangerous for pets even in small amounts, causing fatal liver failure.

Fatty foods of many kinds will give your pets an upset stomach. With a big excess they could get pancreatitis, which is a very painful inflammation of the pancreas.

Bones, especially cooked poultry bones, can get stuck in the throat or intestines. This is very painful, and is likely to need an anaesthetic and operation for the bone fragments to be removed. Make sure that the bones from your turkey are disposed of safely, and that the bin is secure!

Antifreeze – we’re not suggesting anyone would feed their cat antifreeze! Unfortunately, antifreeze tastes sweet and cats, who are usually good at avoiding strange things, seem to really like it. Sadly even a small amount if often fatal. So remember to put your antifreeze away and clear up any spills.

If your pet accidentally eats any of the foods listed, or is unwell at all over Christmas, please contact your vet for advice. Our surgery can be contacted on 01525 373329. For more pet advice log on to

Ark House Vets would like to wish you all a happy, healthy Christmas and New Year!