Keeping your dogs safe this Christmas

Keeping your dog safe this Christmas

Although Christmas time is an exciting time not just for us, but for our dogs as well, it also comes with its own dangers for them!  Toxic food and dangerous seasonal plants are just a few things to look out for.


Lots of our favourite festive treats are toxic to our dogs and should be kept well out of paws reach:

chocolate – chocolate is toxic to dogs and even small amounts can cause serious illness.

Christmas pudding and mince pies – grapes and dried fruits, including currants, sultanas and raisins, can cause severe kidney failure if eaten.

onions (and garlic, leeks, shallots and chives) – these all belong to the allium species of plant and are poisonous to dogs whether cooked or raw. Avoid feeding anything that includes these ingredients, such as gravy.

alcohol – has a similar effect on dogs as it does in their owners! Make sure your dog can’t help themselves to any unattended alcohol left lying around.

macadamia nuts – macadamia nuts can cause lethargy (tiredness), weakness in the back legs, increased body temperature, tremors and stiffness.

leftovers – don’t be tempted to give your dog leftover Christmas food – they can include hidden ingredients toxic to dogs and mould in leftovers can make them ill.

sweets – many of the sweets we eat over Christmas contain a sugar-free sweetener called xylitol, which is poisonous to dogs.


The most common types of Christmas trees including pine, fir and spruce are not overly toxic to dogs, but the oils they produce and the pine needles that drop from them can pose a risk. The sharp pine needles get stuck in dog’s paws, and they can also cause a mild stomach upset or blockage if eaten.

Keep decorations out of paws reach

Decorations such as baubles and tinsel can cause a dangerous stomach blockage if swallowed. Hang Christmas tree decorations up high to prevent mischievous paws (or tails) from knocking them off, and remember to never hang chocolate decorations as chocolate is poisonous to dogs.

Don’t leave presents under the tree

Christmas presents lying under the tree can be too tempting for our four-legged friends – especially if the gift is edible! It’s best to keep wrapped gifts out of paws reach, as wrapping paper can cause a blockage in your dog’s tummy if too much is eaten.

Keep fairy light cables tidy

The wires on fairy lights can be tempting for your dog to chew. Keep any cables out of your dog’s reach and remember to switch them off at the mains when they’re not in use.

Watch out for batteries

Ingesting a battery can cause dogs chemical burns and heavy metal poisoning – so make sure none are left lying around as presents are unwrapped and toys are being set up.

It’s also worth keeping an eye on those little packets of silica gel that fall out of packaging. Although they are non-toxic, they can cause blockages in the gut.


Christmas plants make the season all the more festive, but traditional Christmas plants such as poinsettia, holly, mistletoe and ivy are all toxic to dogs.  If you do have these in your home, make sure they are displayed out of reach of inquisitive noses.


Candles are a great way to create a cosy atmosphere, but you should avoid leaving your pet alone with them. Always place them on a high shelf to ensure they don’t accidently get knocked over, leading to unfortunate burns or more serious fires. Burning strongly scented candles may also cause issues for pets with breathing problems.


The festive fun can sometimes get a little overwhelming with all the frivolities and new faces coming and going.

Make sure you know when your dog is starting to feel the stress and ensure there is somewhere they can have a safe space to retreat to, with familiar toys, food and water on hand.

Try to stick to your normal routine for walks and feeding time.


Dog theft is on the increase, so make sure you stay particularly vigilant at Christmas.  If you are visiting friends and family and unable to take your dogs with you, make it appear that someone is home, from lending your neighbour’s visitors your driveway, to leaving lights on and closing your curtains.

50% of dog thefts are from gardens, and winter makes no difference. Ensure all gates and fences are secure before the Christmas festivities begin.


The smell of antifreeze is extremely alluring to dogs and cats. But it is hugely toxic and can be fatal, so be careful not to spill any on the ground, and keep bottles out of reach – even the smallest amount can be dangerous.