LIFESTYLE
22/12/2013 12:19 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 18:58 GMT

Christmas Snacks And Food That Can Harm Your Dog

The "Ah go on, it's Christmas" rule that covers a multitude of eating and drinking sins also extends to our pets this Christmas as we feed them extra treats from the table.

But the experts would argue that while it might be alright for humans to bend the rules, giving in to the pleading puppy dog eyes of your pooch might be doing it more harm than good.

We asked Fiona Firth, head nutritionist at Burns Pet Nutrition and Alison Daniel, founder of healthy pet supplement company Din Dins what food should be avoided.

christmas dog food

"Dogs and cats are simply not designed to eat processed human snacks," said Alison, "and the smelly breath, stinky wind, sore or dry skin and itchiness are often linked to diet."

Chocolate and sweets

"You shouldn’t ever give your dog chocolate, whatever the occasion," says Alison. "Active ingredients including theobromine and caffeine can affect hormonal and neurological functions in dogs, with side effects including hyperactivity, vomiting, lethargy, seizures, coma and potentially death. With high sugar and fat content, sweet delicacies in general are a severe no-go – feed your pet one plain biscuit and you may as well be giving your dog or cat a hamburger in human terms."

Turkey

You might thing turkey is perfectly fine for doggy treats, but Fiona says in January, the Burns helpline is usually inundated with calls about pets with an upset stomach or dogs showing symptoms of pancreatitis. "Fatty meats can cause this," she says, "so be mindful when sharing your turkey feast."

Alison adds: "Cooked bones, especially poultry, are brittle and can splinter your pet’s throat or gut. Raw bones, on the other hand, are beneficial for teeth and health. Introduce raw bones gradually and keep the leftover cooked bones firmly on your plate."

SEE ALSO:

Protecting Your Pets From Christmas Dangers

What Your Cat Thinks About You

Fruit cake/figgy pudding/mince pies

The Burns annual pet census showed that 21% of those surveyed didn’t know that dogs should avoid eating raisins, says Fiona.

Dogs affected by grapes or raisin toxicosis can develop vomiting, lethargy or diarrhoea. As signs progress, dogs become increasingly dehydrated, can refuse to eat and may show a transient increase in urination followed by decreased or absent urination in later stages.

Be aware that as well as fruit, cake can also contain alcohol particularly soaked fruit cakes carry a risk. A hungry dog can devour a cake within minutes, and if there is a significant amount of spirit in the mix, that’s quite a quantity of alcohol. Keep fruit cakes well out of the reach of the family pet.

Nuts and dips

Fiona says: "Our research showed that 31% of dog owners didn’t realise that avocado can be harmful to dogs and with guacamole being a popular choice to accompany party food nibbles it’s a cause for concern. Nuts, in particular macadamia nuts can also cause lethargy, weakness and even cause dogs to collapse when eaten in moderate amounts. Nuts could also pose as a potential choking hazard."

Crisps

"Hidden ingredients including onion powder in crisps can interfere with your pet’s blood circulation," says Alison "and may cause haemolytic anaemia (causing oxygen-rich red blood cells to abnormally break down), whilst maize and corn are common allergens for many pet breeds."

Nutmeg

"Found in eggnog and seasonal cakes, nutmeg contains minute levels of cyanide," says Alison. "Alongside fruit seeds, nutmeg can cause dog seizures and must be avoided for pet safety. Sliced fruit is fine, but avoid feeding your pets entire pieces of seed-rich fruit."