With a belly full of turkey and glazed ham, you might be tempted to share some of your Christmas feast with your furry friends but this can have serious health consequences for them.
Animals digest and metabolise food differently to humans, so what might be perfectly fine for us can be poisonous to them, says Tauranga SPCA centre manager Margaret Rawiri.
• Turkey skin/pork crackling/sausages/fatty meats: these can cause vomiting, bloody diarrhoea and may lead to pancreatitis.
• Fruit cake and Christmas pudding: raisins and grapes are toxic to cats and dogs’ kidneys. If eaten they can cause lethargy, excessive thirst, vomiting and in serious cases can be fatal.
• Alcohol and caffeine: these are both toxic for pets.
• Avocados: these contain persin which causes symptoms ranging from vomiting and diarrhoea to cardiac arrest and death. Birds are particularly sensitive to persin but avocado should not be fed to any pets.
• Chocolate: for cats and dogs, chocolate can cause elevated heart rate, seizures, vomiting and diarrhoea.
• Macadamia nuts: can cause vomiting, weakness and tremors if eaten by dogs.
• Onions and chives: these contain disulphides and sulfoxides, which can damage red blood cells if eaten by cats and dogs.
• Pits and seeds of peaches, plums, persimmons, and apples: these contain a substance that degrades to cyanide, which is toxic. The pits of peaches are also choking hazards that can cause blockages and damage to the intestine.
• Xylitol (a common ingredient in sugarless treats and sugarless gum): causes hypoglycaemia in dogs, which can lead to seizures and liver failure in severe cases.
• Sweet-corn cobs: these can cause blockages in the small intestine that may need to be removed surgically. Don’t let dogs chew on the cob.
It’s also important to keep animals safe around your Christmas tree and decorations.
For real trees, make sure your animals don’t chew on the fallen needs as the oils can irritate their mouth and if eaten they can cause stomach irritation and vomiting
Also make sure your dog or cat doesn’t decide to use the tree stand as a water bowl, the bacteria in stagnant water can be harmful. Use a Christmas tree skirt, a plastic bag or cling film to cover the stand.
You also need prevent your animals from chewing on power cords or lights, be careful of sharp and delicate ornaments, monitor lit candles, and, if you own cats, skip the tinsel to avoid accidental ingestion and costly surgery.
As much as it’s important to keep your pets safe at Christmas you can also include them in the festive fun. You can involve your dog by letting them by unwrap their own present, even if the present is a toy they already own, they will love ripping it open and discovering it anew.
You can also freeze pet food or put it into toys so your pets can gradually extract the food.