Ooooooh, Christmas is so close I can almost touch it! I’ve been very good this year (well, 99% of the time!), so I’m optimistic that Santa’s Elves will report back to the main man, and Mr Claus will be popping a present or two under the Underhill tree :-). Hopefully your fur-babies have got a surprise or two coming their way as well from Santa Paws or Santa Claws.

Before I get to the treats and goodies that they CAN have, I’m going to unleash the Scrooge/Grinch/Veterinarian in me and say what human yummies their tummies CAN’T have. #SorryNotSorry.

Nuts. No, I haven’t slipped onto the naughty step, and yes I can hear you all gasping at my “language” (!); nuts are a big no-no for your furries I’m afraid. Not only do the smaller sized ones present a choking hazard to cats and dogs, Macadamia nuts are harmful to hounds; their digestive, muscular, and nervous systems can all be affected.

Alcohol is obviously another nasty for animals to have, although in fairness it doesn’t tend to be as common a problem as food related items. Beyond the odd pet that likes a splosh of Lager at the pub with its human, animals don’t gravitate towards alcohol. The problem tends to be when foods have alcohol in them, and the effects of alcohol are more concentrated in animals if ingested.

We all get a little giddy at this time of year and start to indulge in Mince pies and Christmas fruit cake (steeped in Brandy of course, is there any other way?!) – not to mention the pudding itself on the Christmas Day. Whilst it’s ok for us to indulge in these foods, albeit temporarily, they are toxic to cats and dogs because of their grape/raisin/sultana content; the exact toxic element in grapes is unknown, but in large enough quantities it can cause kidney toxicity in your beloved pet. Vomiting, diarrhoea and lethargy are all common early clinical signs of their ingestion.

The high fat content of pastries, pies and cakes isn’t good for pooch or kitty either; to be fair though, it’s more likely that your dog will wolf (no pun intended!) a mince pie down, than your cat.

So, no nuts, grapes or alcohol; what’s next on the naughty list? It’s got to be Chocolate, purely down to its commonality in most households. Let’s face it, there are Advent calendars, choccy decorations for the tree, and more tins of chocolates than you can shake a stick at strewn all around the place at Christmas. Perfect hunting grounds for marauding mutts and pilfering puss-cats!

The Theobromine in chocolate is toxic to dogs, and even more so for cats; the darker the chocolate, the more harmful it is too. There are specific pet friendly “chocolates” out there, so they can indulge too, if you buy these for them :-).

Other common hazards are Nutmeg, Cheese, and members of the Allium family: Leeks, Chive, Onion, and Garlic.

Alongside Clove and Cinnamon, Nutmeg is a spice that epitomises the festive season. In small quantities it may “only” cause an upset tummy, but if ingested in larger quantities it can cause Hallucinations, disorientation, and possibly seizures too.

 

Cheese is easier to deal with, although not so easy for your pet to digest; the lactose can upset their digestive systems. It isn’t usually life threatening, but if you stand down-wind of your pet…… you catch the drift?! Oh come on, that was a good pun: TA-DAH!

The Allium clan causes Anaemia in cats and dogs, i.e. it reduces the amount of red blood cells (the bodies’ oxygen carriers) in your pets’ bloodstream; this can make them breathless, lacking in energy, and generally feeling a bit rubbish.

Nowadays, nothing is sacred – not even healthy foods! Sugar-free sweets and gum, beloved of the health conscious crew, contain Xylitol, an artificial sweetener/ sugar replacement. Too much for us just means more trips to the Porcelain throne, but animals experience a surge in Insulin which may lead to vomiting, a lack of co-ordination, seizures and potential Liver damage.

More general Christmas hazards lay with high salt-content foods such as salted Peanuts or Gravy made from stock cubes, rich sauces and stuffings, and highly fatty foods such as Cream and brandy Butter. Turkey bones are also clearly a hazard to your pets’ health, but I’m pretty sure you don’t telling that, right?!

 

Okey doke, enough with the Grinchiness, let’s get to the part where I say what your Fido and Feline can have. That doesn’t mean that they can have their very own festive food-mountain though – portion control still needs to be applied, so no falling for those “purr-leeeeeeeease put more on” cute facial expressions!

 

Lean Turkey, Chicken, Goose, Duck or whatever meat or Fish you’re celebrating with, are all permissible for your fur-babies to have too; not too much though remember, your nostrils will thank me, trust me 🙂

As a general rule, Cats aren’t overly crazy for vegetables, but if they want a bit of Carrot or Swede then why not let them have it. Dogs on the other hand, rarely turn their noses up at anything, so let them have Green Beans, Parsnip, Carrot, Swede, Mashed and New Potatoes (not overly buttered though please), Sweet Potatoes, and Sprouts. Yes, Sprouts; perfect for those of you who need to get rid of those mini-cabbage things under the table!

Christmas is when we show our love to friends and Family (furry or not) and often make gifts of food to demonstrate this. This is the perfect opportunity to make your own treats; that way you know that they’re safe for your beloved pet and they’ll more than likely work out cheaper than bought ones to be honest.

There are loads of recipes on the internet, on sites such as Pinterest or the animal charities’ sites. I even stumbled upon a recipe for homemade Diabetic Dog treats, using chopped Liver! For cat owners, the RSPCA site has a fab recipe that uses Salmon, but you could adapt it and use Tuna, Prawns, or whatever fish your Puss prefers.

Homemade treats are pretty speedy to make too, about 30 minutes in total – ideal for us time-poor “parents”. Best of all though, your entire household will be able to sit down, relax, and enjoy some treats over Christmas :-).

Until next time; stay safe, stay well, and be happy :-). Merry Christmas to you all, and a wonderful New Year 🙂