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Christmas is a great time to celebrate with our friends, family and pets. There are lots of dog-friendly treats on the market to spoil your pet over the holidays. While it might be tempting to share your own Christmas favourites with your dog, be aware that they may not be safe for our pets.

Christmas Cake and Mince Pies 

Any foods containing currants, raisins or sultanas must be avoided, just like fresh grapes, the dried fruit can be toxic to your dog. In fact, dried grapes are often more dangerous. There appears to be no connection between the number of grapes, fresh or dried, consumed and the clinical signs which can include vomiting, diarrhoea, uncoordinated movement and acute kidney failure.

Chocolate Santas

Chocolate is a must for any home at Christmas, however, remember human chocolate is not suitable for dogs. The substances contained in chocolate affect the central nervous system, cardiac and skeletal muscle. Dark chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate but all are best avoided.


Any food item containing onions, garlic or chives should not be given to dogs as they can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and destruction of red blood cells. If you offer your dog  Christmas dinner leftovers, make sure any stuffing is removed first.

Sweet treats

Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that is added to confectionary and baking to improve sweetness without the calories. Whilst this ingredient is perfectly safe for humans it can cause insulin release, low blood glucose and liver toxicity in dogs when eaten in large amounts. Take care to check the ingredients before sharing your sweet treats with your dog.


Any drink containing milk may cause mild diarrhoea in some dogs as they are unable to digest the sugars found in dairy products. Alcohol is, of course, not suitable for dogs.

Turkey Bones

Small bones splinter easily and can cause serious injury to your dog’s mouth and digestive tract. Remember to keep your dog away from the turkey carcass and ensure they do not raid the bin to find tasty scraps.

Nut Mix

A bowl of mixed nuts may be great for your Christmas guests. However, be aware that Macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs and can cause symptoms of depression, vomiting, over-heating, and tremors within twelve hours of consumption. Many nut mixes also contain dried grapes.

If you are concerned that your dog has managed to indulge in some of the above foods, find out the content of what they have eaten and contact your vet with your concerns. Knowing which foods to avoid giving your dog will help you both to enjoy a healthy and happy holiday.

A very Merry Christmas from all of us at Protect My Pet!

Written by Lindsay Rose MA VetMB CertAVP CertVBM MRCVS.