Seasonal Advice

Keep your Pet healthy this year, avoid these Christmas poisonous foods


Chocolate contains a product called Theobromine which is similar to caffeine. Theobromine is toxic to cats and dogs. Chocolate poisoning can cause vomiting and diarrhoea which leads to dehydration. In more severe cases it can cause hyperthermia (high body temperature), hyperactivity (restlessness) and hypertension (high blood pressure). All of these symptoms can lead to severe tachycardia (high heart rate) which in turn can cause muscle rigidity and tremors and in some cases even convulsions and even death if left untreated.

So… How much chocolate is a toxic dose for your pet:

  • White Chocolate – not enough Theobromine to cause anything more severe than vomiting & diarrhoea.
  • Milk Chocolate – 9grams per 1 kilogramme bodyweight.
  • Dark Chocolate – 1gram per 1 kilogramme bodyweight.
  • Cocoa Powder- 0.77grams per 1 kilogramme bodyweight.

So… How does this equate in chocolate?

  • Milk Chocolate = 2 bars -10kg e.g. Jack Russell Terrier
  • Dark Chocolate = 1 bar – 10kg e.g. Jack Russell Terrier.
  • Cocoa Powder = approx 1 cup strong hot chocolate for a Jack Russell Terrier

(Average bar chocolate 49grams)

Grapes, Raisins,Currants & Sultanas.

Fruits of the Vitis Vinifera (grapes,raisin,currants & sultanas) can surprisingly cause Renal Failure (Kidney Disease) in dogs.

Thus far we do not know what causes dogs kidneys to fail or even what the toxic dose is. Some dogs can develop vomiting and diarrhoea and then go on to develop renal failure from 24-48hours post ingestion.

Although we have no data it support this we believe that cats may also be at risk from renal failure should they ingest high quantities of these fruits.

Data we have received from the veterinary poisons unit, suggest clients should steer away from allowing their pets to ingest these fruits.

Therefore this includes:

  • Christmas cake
  • Christmas pudding
  • Stolen & Mince pies

Christmas Dangerous Foods


Are you aware that nuts can cause your pet to become poorly?

Peanuts can cause gastrointestinal signs and in a small number of cases can even cause twitching, muscle spasms, agitation, hallucinations and convulsions.

Macadamia Nuts can cause weakness, tremors, ataxia (wobbly/staggering), vomiting, depression, pyrexia (high temperature), abdominal tenderness, lameness and stiffness.

Be aware that these nuts are readily available coated in chocolate!

Onions, Garlic, Leeks, Shallots & Chives

Can cause toxicity even when cooked. Initially animals suffer from gastrointestinal signs and in very severe cases Haemolytic Anaemia can occur, this is when the body starts to break down its own red blood cells.

Avoid your pets eating:

  • Onion gravy
  • Sage & onion stuffing etc.

Mouldy Food

E.g. mouldy walnuts, bread, cheese etc.

When mouldy these foods contain toxins which can cause a rapid onset of convulsions with tremors, vomiting, hyperaesthesia (increased sensation to pain) and muscle rigidity.

Artificial Sweetener

Xylitol can be found in chewing gum, medicinal products, artificial sweetener and can also be bought by the bag to sweeten home cooking.

This can cause Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) and liver failure.

Poisonous plants at Christmas

Holly & Ivy

Ingestion of Holly and Ivy usually results in drooling and retching and occasionally vomiting.

BUT- take care with your rabbit this Christmas and as Ivy can cause muscle twitching, paralysis, convulsions and death.


Ingestions seems only result in retching, vomiting and salivation with occasional weakness.


Poinsettia has a bad reputation, probably as it belongs to the euphorbia family. Although it has been reported to be very toxic to cats, the veterinary poisons units’ experience is generally that ingestion only produces gastric irritation.

Fur Cones

Fur cones look great around the house at Christmas, dogs and cats alike enjoy playing with them.

If ingested by your pet, they may only cause slight gastric upset but more importantly could cause an gastrointestinal obstruction.

Dangerous Christmas Decorations & Wrappings,Tinsel, Ball Balls, Toys and Christmas Lights

At Christmas we love to decorate our homes and Christmas trees alike.

Out pets love Christmas just as much as they love playing with ‘stray’ bit of tinsel and ball balls, take care not to allow your pet to swallow and decorations.

Your pet may lucky and get a Christmas toy as a present, but please, take care not to allow your dog or cat to chew the toy and ingest the ‘squeaker’ and or the stuffing.

Tin Foil & Turkey / Meat Bones

At Christmas we tend to eat a lot of meat and poultry. Your pet may also enjoy the Christmas dinner but be very aware of feeding them any fatty meat as this can lead to diarrhoea.

Our pets love any opportunity to scavenge through our bins and Christmas bins are full of great tasting treats!

Please take special care and keep your waste out of reach of your pet.

We see a lot of intestinal foreign bodies (things stuck in animals’ intestines) and bones stuck either in their intestines or in their rectum.

This can lead to your pet having to have an operation and possibly a stay in the vets!

The Mount Veterinary Hospital recommend that all Christmas plants and foods should be kept out of the reach of your pets.

Christmas trees are obviously impossible to be out if reach.

But – be aware if decorations or wrappings are consumed the major risk would be injury to digestive system and or gastrointestinal obstruction.

Please contact us at any time over the Christmas Holidays if you are at all worried about your pet.

The Mount Veterinary Hospital provide 24hr service to care for your pet.

Phone: 01823 662286