Can dogs eat Christmas dinner?

It can be tempting to share your Christmas dinner with your dog, but what we consider to be Christmas treats can be extremely dangerous. If your dog does get into mischief and consumes any of the things listed below then contact your local vet for advice or, out of hours, find your nearest Vets Now pet emergency clinic or Vets Now 24/7 hospital. Often the quicker treatment is sought the easier and more successful it will be.

Dog Christmas dinner hazards

  1. Grapes and raisins

    Image of raisins for Vets Now article on Christmas food dangers for dogs
  2. Christmas pudding and mince pies

    Image of mince pies for Vets Now article on Christmas food dangers for dogs
  3. Chocolate

    Image of mince pies for Vets Now article on Christmas food dangers for dogs
  4. Bones

    Image of mince pies for Vets Now article on Christmas food dangers for dogs
  5. Macadamia nuts

    Image of mince pies for Vets Now article on Christmas food dangers for dogs
  6. Alcohol

    Image of mince pies for Vets Now article on Christmas food dangers for dogs
1. Grapes and raisins

Exactly why and how these are poisonous to dogs is unknown and the exact volume needed to cause symptoms is difficult to predict. Some dogs will eat one or two grapes and become seriously ill while others can eat lots of them with no ill-effects. The only way to be safe is to keep them out of reach of your dog.
Click here to read our comprehensive advice guide on grape and raisin toxicity.

2. Christmas pudding and mince pies

These Christmas fancies are bad for dogs for a number of reasons. Firstly, they’re jam-packed full of currants, raisins and sultanas, which are toxic to dogs. Secondly, they’re often full of fat and suet which can give them severe stomach troubles, but also, more worryingly, lead to pancreatitis. Finally, they’re usually laced with alcohol which is also poisonous to dogs.

Read our news story on the dangers of Christmas pudding and mince pies.

3. Chocolate coins

Most pet owners are now aware of the dangers of chocolate to dogs and will avoid leaving any within reach. However, it’s not uncommon for people to forget about the chocolate coins or decorations that hang from Christmas trees, or indeed, chocolate presents that are wrapped up and left under trees. As well as the obvious chocolate dangers, the wrapping can also be a problem as it works its way through the dog’s system.

Worried your dog may have eaten chocolate? Find out more here.

4. Bones

At this time of year, we often cook far more meat than usual and this normally results in more bones lying about. Once cooked all bones become brittle and splinter easily. This can lead to larger fragments getting ‘stuck’ and causing obstructions. But smaller pieces can also cause gut irritation and perforation.

Many of these incidents occur when, rather than stealing a bone from the kitchen work surface, the dog raids the bin for the carcass in the middle of the night. Also, make sure you dispose of the string from any meat joints as this can be a tempting toy for your dog and could be harmful if ingested. The best thing is to put the carcass outside into a sealed bin. It’s worth noting that birds such as turkeys, chickens and geese are all hollow-boned and their bones splinter whether raw or cooked and so must never be given to your dog under any circumstances.

5. Macadamia nuts

Within 12 hours of ingestion macadamia nuts can cause dogs to experience weakness — especially in the hind limbs — depression, tremors, vomiting and hyperthermia, which is increased body temperature. These symptoms tend to last for approximately 12 to 48 hours. As with all the other food groups mentioned if you suspect your dog has consumed macadamia nuts contact your vet or, out of hours, find your nearest Vets Now pet emergency clinic or Vets Now 24/7 hospital.

6. Alcohol

We tend to use much more alcohol in our cooking at this time of year and so even normal titbits can be potentially problematic over the Christmas period. As it is for people, alcohol is intoxicating for dogs and can cause similar unpleasant side effects. Bruno had a lucky escape after lapping up homebrew beer. Read his story here.