Care with Christmas Foods

As Christmas approaches lots of unusual and exciting foods are brought into your home, making this a very tempting time for your dog...

Alison Laurie, Senior Consultant, Crown Vets Inverness.

However, some of these things may be very harmful if eaten.

There is a lot going on at Christmas with guests arriving and set routines disturbed , so be watchful that Auntie is not secretly feeding your dog Christmas cake treats that may be harmful , or that children do not share out their Selection boxes!

It is important to remember that your pets are not human, and that some human foods can actually be very dangerous to dogs. So always avoid giving dogs the foods listed below:


Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine, which is particularly poisonous to dogs. Generally speaking, the darker the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains, and therefore the more poisonous it is.  White chocolate contains less theobromine however it is still very fatty however and can still make your dog quite ill.

Chocolate can initially cause vomiting and diarrhoea, but is a potent stimulant and so can lead to your dog becoming excitable, as well as developing muscle twitching, tremors, fitting and life threatening problems with their heart.  Severe cases can sadly be fatal.

So make sure that all chocolate is out of the reach of your dog. Also although chocolate wrappers and boxes and bags are not poisonous, they can cause gut obstruction in the gut if eaten and this may then require surgical intervention.

Raisins, grapes, currants and sultanas

All these are potentially toxic, and the dried forms can be even more toxic. The exact reason for the toxic reaction to ingesting these fruits is not known.  However, we do know that they can cause toxicity and that severe cases can sadly succumb to acute kidney failure.

Foods including these fruits are: Christmas cake, Christmas pudding, fruit cake, mince pies, stolen cake and chocolate covered raisins.

As well as possibly causing vomiting and diarrhoea, these can cause kidney failure, which can sometime be delayed for 24 to 72 hours.  This poisoning can present as a decrease in urination, your dog may also appear dull, or show signs of an increased thirst.

Prompt treatment is very important here. If your dog does eat any amount contact your Vet immediately.

Macadamia nuts

Why these particular nuts are poisonous to dogs is not known but macadamia nuts can effect nerve function and cause your dog to appear weak, dull, sleepy, wobbly on their feet, and stiff when walking.  Vomiting, tremors, lethargy and an increased body temperature can also occur.  These effects usually appear within 12 hours and may last up to two days.

Blue cheese

Blue cheese contains a substance called Roquefortine C, which is a substance produced by the fungus used to produce these cheeses. Dogs are very sensitive to this substance and in extreme cases muscle tremors and seizures can occur, which may last for up to two days.

So, to ensure a happy Christmas for all please do make sure that your pets do not have access to any of these potentially harmful foods.

If you know or suspect that you dog may have eaten any of these, please contact the practice for advice as soon as possible.