Keeping your pets safe this Christmas!

At Christmas, there’s more of a risk from food poisoning to our pets – simply because there are more opportunities for them to eat things they shouldn’t! Robin Hargreaves, Agria’s Senior Veterinary Advisor, shares some excellent advice regarding some danger foods and other unsafe items around the home.

Dogs, in particular, are quite likely to help themselves to all that tempting Christmas food – or anything else they like the look of… And with their super-keen sense of smell, your dog can easily tell when there is food around – even if it’s wrapped up under the tree, they will know – and need some strong willpower not to open and eat it all!


Dangerous items to avoid

Robin Hargreaves, Agria’s Senior Veterinary Advisor, shares some excellent advice regarding some danger foods and other unsafe items around the home.


There’s always lots of chocolate around at Christmas time, and, often, it’s left in easy reach of pets. But being careless could have very serious consequences.

 “Chocolate can be very toxic to dogs. It varies how toxic, but the better quality the chocolate, the more toxic it is. Quite simply, if your dog has any chocolate at all, do not take a risk - you’ve got to take it very seriously.”

 If you think your dog has eaten chocolate, you must contact your vet immediately.


 Mince pies and Christmas cake

These both contain raisins, which come from grapes – which are highly toxic to dogs.

“Eating food that contains grapes or raisins can cause kidney failure in your dog. If you think your dog has eaten anything containing grapes or raisins, you must contact your vet straight away - do not wait until morning or the next day”.



This has a similar effect on animals as it does on humans, but as pets are much smaller than us, a small quantity can have a serious effect. It is a poison and will make animals very sick, very quickly.”

 Always keep them away – drinks such as cream liqueurs can be especially temptng, so do not take any risks.


Vape/electronic cigarette refills

These contain very concentrated nicotine, which would be extremely dangerous if your dog were to chew or eat it. This is a relatively unknown, but extremely serious poison, so be very careful, especially if you have visitors that may not be as careful as you are.”


If your pet has consumed any of the above, get in touch with your vet immediately for urgent advice.


Other tempting Christmas treats...


Is your cat hypnotised by the tree?

Cats are less likely than dogs to eat toxic food, however, their playful natures can cause a few other issues! Cats - and dogs too, will often want to pull decorations off Christmas trees to play with, and will also be tempted by ribbon or paper from presents, which could cause a blockage if swallowed.

Don’t assume your pet will be sensible. Keep wrapping, ribbons, and decorations out of their reach, and if you feel your pet looks ill for any reason, don’t hesitate to contact your vet.


Unsuitable Christmas toys

Your dog might be lucky to get given presents from friends and family, but always make sure if someone gives your pet a toy, it is suitable.

Before giving it to your dog to play with, check that no parts can be torn off or eaten. If a dog eats part of a toy, it may not pass through the dog’s intestine, causing an obstruction – which would need immediate attention from a vet.



Lots of dogs end with upset stomachs at Christmas after being given leftovers. It’s so easy to feel sorry for them as we eat so much lovely food and theirs seems boring in comparison, but as much as we can think it’s a lovely treat for them, they are just not used to it. Be very mindful of how much they are given (not just by you, but by visitors, too) and stick to their normal diet as much as possible. They will feel much better for it.

And remember, just because it’s Christmas and we might like to be lazy, your dog won’t! In fact, with everything more unpredictable than usual, if anything, get them out and about more than you usually would. Your dog’s need for stimulation and exercise doesn’t stop – and who doesn’t love a Christmas walk anyway!


Christmas vet services

It’s a very good idea to check your vet’s opening hours over the Christmas period, and the details of your emergency out of hours service. There may be different arrangements over Christmas, and even a different location you’d need to get to in a hurry. So, in case you do find yourself with an emergency on your hands, make sure you know the details for Christmas Day.

Wishing your families and pets a very happy and safe Christmas!


If you have an Agria Pet Insurance policy, you can access the free Pet Health Helpline, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The veterinary-trained team will advise on any concerns or queries that you may have over your pet’s health – much like the NHS 111 service for people. Call free on 03333 32 19 47.