Photo: KFahad | PxHere

As the year draws to a close, we eagerly await the array of festivities that give us opportunities to feast on platters of decadent food. Naturally, as loving paw-rents, we envision sharing our festive food with our beloved pets too.

As tempting as it might be to treat your pets to something extra, it's best to be cautious about what you're giving them. Besides just a nasty tummy upset, many such foods can pose considerable risk to our animal friends. To save your pet from falling ill during this Christmas period, here's a list of the top five foods that are best avoided:


As most paw-rents are aware, chocolate can kill their pets! Chocolates contain high amounts of theobromine and caffeine. Humans are better equipped to digest these compounds – not so for cats and dogs. This is why chocolate is okay for humans, but poisonous to pets!

Theobromine and caffeine can damage your pet's heart, nervous system and kidneys. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea, restlessness, excessive drinking and urination. In severe cases, symptoms can include muscle tremors, seizures and collapse.

If your pet has eaten chocolate or you suspect so, it is an emergency and your pet needs veterinary attention right away.

Also, resist giving Christmas candy and other sweets to your furry ones. Treats may include xylitol – an artificial sweetener that is toxic to pets.


Grapes and raisins are poisonous to your pets as they can cause kidney failure. Even a few grapes or raisins can lead to severe kidney damage. 

Once again – if your pet has eaten grapes or raisins or you suspect so, it is an emergency.


It is pretty common for paw-rents to give prime cuts of their marbled meat to their pets. However, fatty or fried meat causes pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). 

The pancreas secretes substances that digest food. When it is inflamed, pets can fall very sick. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy and/or decreased appetite.


Avoid giving bones where possible –
either cooked or raw.
Photo: Zlawl | Piqsels

Dogs were often portrayed with bones in our favourite childhood cartoons. However, did you know that bones are actually dangerous to pets? Raw bones are a hotbed of harmful bacteria such as salmonella, which can make your pets very sick. Furthermore, dogs can damage their teeth on raw bones that are too hard. 

Cooked bones are also dangerous. They are likely to splinter into fragments. When this happens, these pieces can puncture your pet's stomach or cause a gut blockage. Both outcomes are life-threatening and will require emergency surgery.

It is also a myth that cats can remove fish bones with their teeth, and swallow just the meat. 

Paw-rents often ask if they can feed smaller bones such as chicken feet to their pets. The answer is still a resounding no! Bones are bad, period!

Signs of a rupture and/or an obstruction include profuse vomiting, an inability to keep food or water down, decreased appetite and/or reduced activity.


Different types of nuts vary in toxicity. Generally speaking, you should avoid feeding them to your pets because they can cause obesity and pancreatitis. 

Macadamia nuts are among the most dangerous nuts that you can feed to them. Signs of macadamia nut poisoning include vomiting, stumbling, weakness and even seizures.


Besides foodstuff, festive décor items present
​​​​​​a constant source of consternation for pet owners.  
Photo: PxFuel

Besides foodstuff, festive decorations present a constant source of consternation for pet owners.  For some pets, everything is edible: From smelly socks to pretty festive decorations strewn around the house.

Mistletoes are the perfect example. While mistletoes represent love and romance, it is poisonous to both owners and pets. Mistletoes contains toxins such as lectins. Signs of mistletoe poisoning include vomiting, diarrhoea and drooling. In severe cases, your pet can have breathing difficulties.

It is important to keep your Christmas decorations out of your pets' reach – and remove any streamers or any string-like decorations. Cats are generally very fond of playing with string-like objects. 

Dr Jnanee is the Vet Advisor with
She graduated with a
Bachelor of Veterinary Science
from Massey University, New Zealand.
Dr Jnanee has a special interest in
veterinary public health
and preventative health.

Tinsels and wide ribbons around the Christmas tree are only fair game to pets. When swallowed, these objects will cause the intestines to bunch up, leading to a blockage. This will require emergency surgery to correct.

No one wants a trip to the vet, particularly during the festive period. By following the above tips, you can make the most of the festive season with your four-legged furry family member and avoid any potential problems.

Text By: Dr Jnanee
Vet Advisor, ZumVet


ZumVet is a vet consultation service giving today's pawrents easy access to affordable veterinary care.  

ZumVet believes that pet care should be stress-free. As such, they offer on-demand services to give pet owners qualified support whenever it is needed. Animal healthcare is made more convenient through video consultations, home-based services and medication delivery.


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