Cooking up a well-deserved, hearty Christmas feast might be just what the 2021 doctors order for us humans, but we need to think twice about sharing our culinary indulgences with our four-legged companions. Our pets know how to pull on our heart strings at the best of times, and if you already struggle to say no to the doe-eyed little face that pleads patiently for just a little morsel of goodness from your dinner plate, we suggest you take heed. Whilst some human food can be safely consumed by our pets, there is a host of no-no’s we need to be across to ensure we don’t give our fur babies the gift of an upset tummy for Christmas, or worse.

The main reason human foods are potentially dangerous for your pet’s health is their high-fat content. If your Christmas dinner is a bit of a carnivore’s paradise, be aware that high fat meats with lashings of gravy could bring on a sudden and severe episode of pancreatitis in dogs. This condition is very painful and can be life threatening. And if the best part about the meat tray is grandma’s famous stuffing, keep that well away from your pets too. Onions and garlic are both toxic to pets, causing rapid breathing, pale gums, lethargy, salivation, and vomiting and even anaemia. Make sure any cooked meat bones are not left out for wandering mouths to find either, as once cooked, bones become brittle and could splinter, causing an injury or throat obstruction.

Mince pies and loads of chocolate, whilst resplendent staples on the festive dessert platter, are also off limits for pets. Not just the sugar and fat content, but dried fruits and chocolate are toxic to animals and if accidentally ingested, we recommend prompt veterinary attention.

If you plan on washing down your festive meal with some eggnog, you might want to keep an eye on the cat. The creamy nature of this beverage can be appealing to cats but remember that alcohol and animals do not mix. Pets are more susceptible to the adverse effects of alcohol, even if only the smallest amount is ingested, so make extra effort to keep kitty of the kitchen bench if the eggnog is out.

Keeping the festive food away from our fur family doesn’t have to mean we can’t give them an occasional special treat. When filling up the cupboards in preparation for your gourmet extravaganza, why not grab some specific pet treats to have handy for the day, or perhaps a new festive toy to keep them busy while you prepare and enjoy your meal? Then there is always a digestive walk together, or maybe a cheeky snooze on the couch if a food coma is more your preferred post meal plan – both special treats that your pets will no doubt love to share!