Christmas can be exciting for people and animals of all ages, including our dogs!

We all want to have fun and your dogs should love it too – snuggling up by the warm fire, having lots of cuddles with granny, enjoying some special treats and toys and helping you enjoy the walks you’ll need to get rid of the extra pounds you’ve put on from all the little luxuries. However, like everything, there are some dangers our dogs could face. Here at Barking Bags, we have a few tips to help keep your furry four-legged friends safe.

With all the food around at Christmas it can be easy to give your dog something that they shouldn’t be eating and if you have visitors over that haven’t had a dog before, they won’t know about some of the potential hazards.

When we were looking into what dogs can and can’t eat, we surprised when we read that onion should be avoided, but apparently, they can cause stomach irritation and end up leading to red blood cell damage and even anemia.

If you’ve left any glasses on the floor, your dog may decide to help themselves. Alcohol can cause your dog to have breathing difficulties or even put them in a coma if they’ve had a lot.

Can dogs eat chocolate?

There’s a chemical called theobromine, a bit like caffeine, which found in chocolate and is toxic to dogs. Even small amounts can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, hyperactivity, tremors, seizures, problems with the heart and even be fatal.

The darker the chocolate, the more potent levels of theobromine become – with baker’s chocolate the most dangerous. Chocolate should be avoided at all costs. Avoid putting any on or under the Christmas tree.

Dark chocolate – the most toxic to dogs, contact your vet immediately 

Milk chocolate – less toxic than dark but may require treatment if larger quantities are eaten

White chocolate – very low risk to dogs, unless it contains another toxic substance eg: raisins

What should you do if your dog eats chocolate?

The risk depends on the weight of your dog, the type of chocolate and the amount they have eaten.  A vet can assess the risk for each individual case. If you're worried, call your vet immediately. If your pet can be treated within an hour, they should be fine.

Artificial Sweeteners

A sugar-free sweetener called xylitol is often found in the sweets we consume over Christmas, as well as chewing gums, mouthwashes, toothpastes and supplements. It’s poisonous to dogs and, although the amounts in different products vary, event one to two pieces of chewing gum can cause toxic effects in a small dog. It can induce the release of insulin in the body, resulting in low blood sugar and sometimes liver damage. Signs of poisoning can be rapid or delayed, and include vomiting, lethargy, convulsions and comas. The prognosis is good if the low blood sugar is treated quickly.

Bones, cheeses, and other tempting nibbles

Cooked bones – once cooked, bones become brittle and can splinter. Don’t be tempted to let them chew on the turkey bones.

Blue cheese – any cheese that has mold in it contains a substance called Roquefortine C, which dogs are sensitive to and could give them an upset stomach.

Are dogs allowed Christmas pudding & mince pies?

Not only does Christmas pudding have alcohol, which is poisonous for dogs but grapes, and dried vine fruits (currents, sultanas, and raisins) are toxic for dogs. Even digesting a small quantity could cause kidney failure.

Some recipes have nuts in too, cashews, almonds, walnuts, and other common nuts contain a high amount of fat, which dogs can't digest easily. High-fat foods like nuts can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, and pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) in our pets.

What about the Christmas decorations?

Decorations are beautiful and help everyone get into the Christmas spirit.

Glass / plastic baubles – they’re easily broken, can cause cuts and if eaten can cause damage to internal organs.

Fairy lights – if they’re switched on, they can result in electric shock if chewed.

Wrapping paper – low in toxicity but in large amounts can cause blockages in the digestion.

Tinsel – consumption can give your dog an upset stomach and can get caught in the intestines causing serious damage.

Salt dough ornaments – homemade decorations are fun to make and also look great but if your dog gets hold of one, they can cause vomiting, diarrhoea or even seizures if eaten.

Silica gel packets – normally non-toxic but if eaten can cause blockages in the digestion tract.

Batteries- It’s the time of year when we seem to have more batteries than ever, these can cause heavy metal poisoning.

Overwhelmed by visitors?

With the pandemic, a lot of dogs haven’t had the chance to get used to being around more people or having a steady flow of visitors in and out. This might be especially true if you got a dog during the pandemic, as many have been found to have some separation anxiety.

Dogs also pick up on our emotions and feelings, so when you’re stressed that you’ve burnt the potatoes or by the traditional family fall out over Monopoly, our dogs will be affected by this. It’s important to have a safe spot for them to go too, so when they’ve had enough, they can take themselves away. This will be helpful if you have younger children as all the loud toys and flashing lights could be overwhelming to dogs.

It’s a good idea to have things to keep your dog busy with throughout the day, we find having a stuffed dog food toy helpful.

What Christmas plants are toxic for dogs?

Holly – even though the berries are a great source of food for birds throughout winter, if digested by dogs, cats and even humans can cause diarrhoea and vomiting. Spikes on the leaves can cause cuts to the mouth.

Poinsettia – are mildly toxic and can lead to diarrhoea, vomiting and in some cases, even be fatal.

Mistletoe – if digested can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, breathing difficulties and could even be fatal.

Christmas trees – can cause dogs to have an upset stomach, irritated mouth if they decide to chew on the branches, but they’re not too toxic for dogs. They could also cause injuries if they’re playing around with the tree, by getting pines stuck in their paws or face.

Ivy – a difficult one. Most plants are toxic for animals once eaten, but ivy is not only toxic if eaten but also if touched. If eaten, can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and drooling and if touched by skin, it can lead to irritation, rashes, itchiness and even cause conjunctivitis.

If you suspect your dog has digested any poisons plants, you should call your vet for further advice.

Having thrown all these worries your way, we want to reassure you that for most pets this is the season to be jolly and they and you should have a great time together, enjoy some lovely winter walks and maybe try out your new Barking Bag!

Season's Greetings everyone.

December 24, 2021 — Barking Bags 2.0 Admin