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Burns Night Delight: Can dogs eat haggis?

With friends gathering to celebrate Rabbie Burns’ birthday, how much of the tradition should we share with our four-legged ones?
Burns Night Delight: Can dogs eat haggis?

Many are preparing to celebrate Burns Night on 25th January, an evening of Scottish food, poetry and singing, honouring the famous Scottish poet, Rabbie Burns. Wonderful traditions of Piping the Haggis in, Addressing the Haggis, Toasting the Haggis and stabbing it, are involved, followed by eating it with neeps and tatties, and a dram or two of whiskey.

It’s a great way to brighten up a cold January evening with friends and fun. Joining in the excitement, under the table, will be our four-legged friends too, but how much of the tradition should we allow them to share?

Savoury meaty pudding

Haggis is a Scottish savoury pudding, originating when farmers and hunters boiled up the leftover sheep’s offal in an ox bung (stomach). A traditional recipe involves a sheep’s heart, liver and lungs, chopped and mixed with oatmeal, onions, suet, spices and seasoning, encased in an ox bung. Although high in meat content, and probably very appealing to your salivating dog, is it ok for them to eat it?

Ingredients that can make your dog ill

Whilst the meat and the oatmeal would be fine, the others could make your dog very ill, so the answer is no!!

  • Onions – members of the allium family, including onions, garlic, leeks etc, contain thiosulfinate and disulphide compounds which dogs lack the enzymes to break down. The compounds attach to red blood cells, bursting them open, causing anaemia.
  • Suet – beef fat. Dogs do need animal fat in their diet, however, too much fat can lead to obesity, or pancreatitis, especially in an older dog, or one with an underlying health condition.
  • Spices - some spices are toxic to dogs and can cause hallucinations, stomach pain and even seizures.
  • Salt – dogs do not need additional salt in their diets as it can lead to excessive thirst, increase in urination or worse problems, especially if your dog has a cardiovascular or kidney condition.

Also beware, any sudden change to your dog’s diet, or inclusion of table scraps, can cause dietary upset such as vomiting and diarrhoea, a sorry way to end an evening of fun and frivolity for all concerned! Any new foods should be introduced slowly.

As a general rule, most vets recommend a diet of 90% good quality dog food and no more than 10% treats, but it is important to make sure that those treats won’t do your dog any harm.

If you are at all worried, download the Agria app at for a video call with a vet 24/7.

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