Christmas foods to avoid

Keep your Christmas Treats to yourself

Jenny Wright, Clinical Director at Zetland Vets in Bristol, walks you through the Christmassy snacks that can be deadly if they end up in the wrong paws.

Jenny Wright

Christmas is all about treats. Whether it’s presents for our friends and family or we’re helping ourselves to extra pudding, Christmas is a time for family, love and giving, as well as letting loose and having fun! If your pooch is giving you those puppy dog eyes this Christmas as you tuck into your well-deserved snacks, make sure to avoid feeding them everything on the list below. It’s also important to store these products in a place that is well out of your dog’s reach.


That’s right, every human’s favourite treat, chocolate, is possibly the biggest potential dangerous food to dogs. Chocolate contains an ingredient called theobromine, which is highly poisonous to dogs. If they eat chocolate or cocoa powder (which has the highest concentration of theobromine), it can have a nasty effect on their hearts, their kidneys and their nervous systems.

Grapes and raisins

Raisins are a staple ingredient in lots of Christmas foods: Christmas cake and pudding, fruitcakes and sweet mince pies. It’s important to keep these things all to yourself because grapes or raisins can cause damage to your dog’s kidneys if they’re eaten.


‘Give the dog a… oh wait… Don’t.’

Whilst bones aren’t toxic to dogs, they have been known to cause serious problems. Cooked bones can split as dogs are chewing them and this can lead to it becoming lodged in their throat, damaging their internal tissue and fracturing their teeth. The same goes for raw bones, which also carry the risk of salmonella.

If you’re eager to stick with the bone tradition, there are plenty of dog-friendly bones available at pet shops. Oh, and you can’t forget the squeaky ones!


Now I’m not really under the impression that you’d give your pet a glass of champagne on purpose– but it’s important to keep an eye on your own alcoholic beverages, which we all known are in full flow at Christmas time. Alcohol can cause many problems for dogs, including vomiting, depression, severe dizziness and breathing problems, none of which are what Christmas is about, right?

Onions, garlic and chives

You might find yourself cooking with these ingredients in your stuffing, gravy or Boxing Day curry over the festive period. They can cause damage to your dog’s stomach or red blood cells if they eat them, so it’s probably not the best idea to have your pooch in the kitchen with you while you’re cooking. It’s also well worth giving your kitchen floor a tidy before letting your dog back in.


Nuts can be a choking hazard and secondly, nuts like macadamia nuts can cause your pooch to suffer depression, hyperthermia and vomiting.


Xylitol can be fatal to dogs, even if they eat a tiny amount. It is a sweetener used in lots of sugar-free products like chewing gum and sweets. Certain dental products, peanut butters and even baked goods are known to contain xylitol too.

Fatty foods

Fatty foods like sausages and turkey skin are harmless in small doses but they are very tasty and if you treat your dog to this type of snack, they’ll likely pester you for more and more until you give in and it becomes a habit. When it becomes a habit, you’ll be feeding them fatty foods in large quantities: this can give them an upset stomach and in some cases lead to pancreatitis, a very serious, painful condition.

Of course, there are lots of treats you CAN give to your dog over Christmas! I highly recommend giving them an activity-based gift, such as a treat puzzle or ball to keep them busy on Christmas day. You can even take a look at these homemade dog treat recipes. If you’re unsure, or if you’d like more advice, just ask your vet. They will be able to give you advice that is specific to your dog.

Join BorrowMyDoggy

BorrowMyDoggy connects dog owners with local volunteer borrowers for walks, holiday care and dog sitting. It’s simple, affordable and safe.

All members take our safety checks before connecting and membership includes access to a 24/7 Vet line and accident and third-party liability insurance.

Learn more and get started