Christmas is a wonderful time of year & should be fun for all the family, our 4-paws included. But, the festive period is one where we often introduce all manner of exciting items into the house that we don’t normally have. Some of these things can be potentially harmful to our beloved dogs & ETK feel it’s worth just being aware of some of the common pitfalls....
We've tried to list the most common foods that could cause problems - but, if you are in any doubt at all - please speak to your local vet for advice.
Grapes: Exactly why & how these are poisonous to dogs is unknown... The exact volume needed to cause symptoms is difficult to predict. Some dogs will eat one or two grapes & can become seriously ill, but others can eat many of them without any apparent problems.... The only way to be safe is to keep them out of reach of your dog.
Christmas Pudding, Christmas Cake & Mince Pies: These are full of currents, raisins & sultanas, which are a variation on the ‘grape’ - & as such, have the same serious health risks. It is common-place for them to ingest far more ‘grapes’ in this form than they would fresh grapes, because there are so many packed into these cakes + they are smaller. These products are also full of fat & suet, which can often give them severe stomach troubles, vomiting etc but also - & more worryingly:- high fat meals are one of the high risk factors leading to pancreatitis. This can be a very serious & costly disease to treat.
Chocolate coins & choccy-decorations: Most people are aware of the dangers for dogs from eating chocolate (perhaps from the very sad demise of "Wellard" on EastEnders a few years ago now!) - but it is a major cause of "doggy-festive-problems" that owners & guests over Christmas really need to be aware of... It's not uncommon for people to forget about the chocolate coins or decorations & leave them in just an "irresistible" location for their 4-paws (ie - dangling from the Christmas tree...) As well as the dangers of the chocolate, the actual wrapping foil can be problematic as they work through the gut system.
Bones: At this time of year, far more meat joints are cooked than normal & can result many more bones lying about in the kitchen, whilst the family sit down to enjoy their roast. Once cooked all bones become brittle & can splinter easily. This can lead to larger fragments getting ‘stuck’ & causing obstructions, but smaller pieces of bone can perferate interanl organs. Most people avoid the initial pitfall of their 4-paws helping themselves to the left-over carcasses from work-tops, but please don't forget that a deliciously-tasty smelling carcass/bone in the bin can be readily "raided" over-night! Lots also forget that the string from any meat joint is a very tempting toy for a dog & could be equally as harmful if ingested. The best thing is to take it straight outside into a sealed bin.
N.B. Birds (turkey/chicken/goose) are all hollow boned animals & as such, these bones will splinter either raw or cooked & should NEVER be given to your dog under any circumstances.
Stuffing: Any roast-stuffing that contains onions or garlic can destroy your 4-paws' red blood cells, causing life-threatening anaemia.
Alcohol: Much as some of us like the "Christmas-Tipple" - our 4-paws do not... Much more alcohol is used in our cooking at this time of year & so even normal titbits can be potentially problematic over the Christmas period. As it is for people, alcohol is also intoxicating for dogs & can cause similar unpleasant side effects. If your dog does decide to help himself to a small sherry - or consumes any food-stuffs containing alcohol, the first thing to do is contact your local vet for advice. Often the quicker treatment is sought the easier & the more successful the treatment.
Christmas Plants: Many festive plants & flowers such as Poinsettias, Amaryllis, Mistletoe & Holly are all poisonous to your pets.
Don't "Over-feed": Any pet should only be fed foods appropriate to their breed & age, the correct portion size is really important. Obviously our pets are much smaller than we are & require much smaller amounts of food. In fact, if a medium-sized dog were to eat a full Christmas turkey dinner: it would be the equivalent of a human eating three dinners in one go! Clearly not a great idea. Another problem with feeding pets big portions is gastric torsion: the stomach dilates due to excess food & gas, either from swallowing air whilst eating or from the meal fermenting. The stomach then twists around on itself, blocking digestion & restricts the blood flow, which in turn affects their internal organs.
TRY OUT THESE TASTY & HEALTHY HOME-MADE TREATS
150ml whole wheat flour
120-240ml beef stock
60ml peanut butter
- Pre-heat oven to 180C - gas mark 4
- In a medium bowl, stir the flour, oats & flaxseed together
- Add the peanut butter
- Gradually add the beef stock to bring the mixture to thick dough
- Form into a ball & turn out on a lightly floured surface
- Roll to about 1/4 inch thickness & cut out to desired shape
- Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown, turning halfway thro cooking
- Cool completely
- These will keep in an airtight container for about a week
300g grated cheese
- Pre-heat oven to 200C - gas mark 6
- Mix the flour & cheese.
- Stir in oil & water - adjust liquid as necessary to make stiff dough
- Roll out onto a floured surface to about 3/8″ thick
- Cut into shapes
- Bake for 2 1/2 – 3 hours until thoroughly dry
FROZEN APPLE BALLS:
240ml non-fat plain Greek yogurt
- Slice the apples into small pieces, removing teh core & the pips
- Using a blender, mix the apples, yogurt & a splash of water
- Pour into an ice-cube tray & freeze
3 (2.5oz) jars of strained chicken baby food
1 tbsp water
- Pre-heat oven to 180C - gas mark 4
- Mix all 3 ingredients together to form a dough
- Roll out onto a floured surface
- Slightly flatten with a wet fork
- Bake for 20-25 mins