Christmas is the time of indulgence, and this year more than ever we are looking forward to celebrating with our family and friends.

Most of us class our dogs as family but the festive season presents a world of hidden dangers to our four-legged friends. A host of seemingly innocent foods are toxic to dogs and many of the “decorations” we bring into our home can cause issues too.

To ensure your dog remains safe this Christmas, Whipley manor farm had compiled a list of dangerous items to keep out of your dogs reach during the festive season and beyond.

Dangerous foods and drink


The chemical theobromine, which is a bit like caffeine, is found in chocolate and is toxic to dogs. Even small amounts can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, hyperactivity, tremors, seizures, problems with the heart and even death in severe cases. 

The darker the chocolate, the more potent levels of theobromine become – with baker’s chocolate being the most dangerous. Chocolate should be avoided at all costs. Avoid putting any chocolate on or under the Christmas tree, as the temptation might be too great for our four legged friends.

If you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate you should contact your veterinarian immediately. Signs your dog has ingested chocolate can include extreme thirst, lethargy, nausea vomiting and loss of coordination.

Christmas pudding and mince pies:
Grapes and dried vine fruits (currants, sultanas, raisins)

Grapes and their dried products (currants, sultanas and raisins) are toxic to dogs. Ingestion of even a small quantity can cause severe kidney failure. Don’t forget this will include food items that contain dried fruits such as Christmas pudding and mince pies. Be aware that chocolate-coated raisins run the additional risk of chocolate toxicity.

Onions (and garlic, leeks, shallots and chives)

Onions, garlic, leeks, shallots and chives all belong to the Allium species of plants and can cause toxicity, whether uncooked or cooked. Initially there can be vomiting and diarrhoea but the main effect is damage to red blood cells, resulting in anaemia. This may not be apparent for several days after ingestion.

Macadamia nuts

Macadamia nuts can cause lethargy, increased body temperature, tremor, lameness and stiffness in dogs.


If there is any food left over at Christmas, be careful to dispose of it well and keep it out of the reach of your four-legged friend. Not only may the food include ingredients toxic to dogs, mould in leftovers can produce toxins that cause rapid onset convulsions in dogs.

Artificial Sweetners

A sugar-free sweetener called xylitol is often found in the sweets we consume over Christmas, as well as chewing gums, mouthwashes, toothpastes and supplements. It is poisonous to dogs and, although the amounts in different products vary, event one to two pieces of chewing gum can cause toxic effects in a small dog. It can induce the release of insulin in the body, resulting in low blood sugar and sometimes liver damage. Signs of poisoning can be rapid or delayed, and include vomiting, lethargy, convulsions and comas. The prognosis is good if the low blood sugar is treated quickly.

Christmas plants


Although toxicity of the poinsettia has often been exaggerated, it can cause irritation to the mouth and stomach with overproduction of saliva and sometimes vomiting.


The plant is considered to be of low toxicity, but ingestion of holly berries may result in a stomach upset.


Ingestion of European mistletoe berries may result in an upset stomach. The American species of the plant is far more dangerous.

Christmas trees

A mild stomach upset can be caused if dogs eat pine needles, but the sharp tips can cause more damage internally.


The ivy that tends to be used in wreaths and decorations is theess potent Hedera helix (not Toxicodendron radicans, the American poison ivy). But the Hedera species can still cause a tummy upset when ingested. Where there is significant or prolonged skin contact, Hedera species can also cause both irritant and allergic contact dermatitis.

Other hazards

Christmas decorations

Decorations made of plastic, paper or foil are of low toxicity but may cause damage to the gastrointestinal tract and create blockages. Glass decorations pose a greater risk if chewed or swallowed.

Wrapping or crepe paper

Ingestion may cause staining in the mouth which may look alarming, but the toxicity is considered to be low. But if your dog eats a large amount, it may cause an obstruction to the stomach.

Silica gel

Silica gel comes in small sachets and is often found in the packaging of new shoes, handbags, cameras or electrical equipment which we unwrap over Christmas. Although it is labelled “Do not Eat” it is considered to be of low toxicity, however we would recommend being e tremely vigilant and never let your dog ingest these.


Although candles, even scented ones, are considered to be of low toxicity, ingestion could potentially block the intestine or cause choking.


When eaten, potpourri can cause significant gastrointestinal effects in dogs. These may last several days even after the material has passed through the gut.

Which Christmas leftovers can I give my dog?

Providing your dog is healthy and is not allergic to the following foods, these are safe to give them a titbit of at Christmas:

?Turkey meat (no skin or bones)

?Salmon (fillets or cooked in spring water are preferable to smoked salmon)

?Lamb meat (no bones)

?Scrambled egg

?Green beans

?Brussel sprouts





?Mash potato (best without additional butter)

?New potatoes

?Sweet potatoes

?Yogurt (but check the ingredients and don’t feed if xylitol is listed as this is toxic to dogs)

Remember, giving your dog lots of new food can cause vomiting and diarrhoea and be very cautious if the food has been seasoned, high levels of salt can bring their own toxicity problems.

What to do if you are worried

If you are at all worried that your pet has been exposed to anything that may cause them harm, you should call them immediately, yes even on Christmas day. Swift treatment can often prevent more serious problems arising.

Although the key to a happy Christmas is sharing, it can often be safer to buy your dog their own, pets safe toys and treats. Luckily we have tons of options for you yo choose from here at Whipley Manor Farm

We would like to wish all our customers and their wonderful animals a very merry (and safe) Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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