When it comes to food, our pets love to get stuck in. However, there are plenty of human foods that can harm or even kill them, which worryingly some owners are not aware of. It's even more important to keep an eye on your pets during the festive season, as there will be plenty of food around which is hard to resist.
Over Christmas, I often decide to treat myself and have chocolate for breakfast. Let's be honest, it's the only couple of days when I can't feel guilty! While we all love a bit of chocolate as a treat, this is extremely harmful to dogs and can be fatal.
It contains the stimulant theobromine, which is a bit like caffeine, and affects the the heart, central nervous system and kidneys. Chocolate that is meant for humans can even cause death in serious cases.
Out of the different varieties, dark chocolate contains the most theobromine. If your dog has eaten any, the side effects will occur between four to 24 hours depending on the amount your dog has eaten. These include muscle tension, increased heart rate, seizures, diarrhoea, vomiting, restlessness and rapid breathing.
Sadly, there is no antidote for chocolate poisoning and all vets can do is either make your dog vomit or wash out the stomach and feed them charcoal to absorb any theobromine left in the intestines. Depending on the signs your dog is showing, they may also put them on a drip or medication to help control the heart rate, seizures and blood pressure.
So this Christmas, if your dog is going to be tempted by your chocolate, why not buy him/her some doggy friendly chocolate instead? This way, you can both have a little treat and not have to worry.
Christmas pudding and mince pies are also a big no no when it comes to dogs. Most dog owners aren't aware of this danger, but foods that contain grapes, raisins and sultanas can give your dog kidney failure. And unlike chocolate, even small amounts can kill them.
It has similar side effects to chocolate, but because this causes kidney failure dogs will also want to drink a lot more water than normal. Why not give them a toy instead, so they can have fun while you finish Christmas off with a festive treat?
The traditional turkey dinner is always one to watch out for too. While raw, uncooked bones are fine for your dog's health and teeth, cooked bones are another matter. These can easily splinter when your dog eats them, which can result in them choking. The skin should also be removed from the turkey if you feed it to your dog because it can be a source of fat. However, the white meat is very good because it is a great source of protein.
The above also applies to cats too and it is more likely they may be affected by these foods because they can jump on higher surfaces to get closer to these festive delights.
Most people believe that cats like diary products, especially milk, but this is not true in all cases. Some cats are lactose intolerant, because they lack the enzyme that helps to digest lactose - a sugar in milk. This can then result in them experiencing tummy problems and diarrhoea.
This can especially be fatal to kittens because they can become dehydrated a lot quicker than adult cats. This is because once they have been weaned, milk is no longer essential in their diet.
Don't forget about rabbits too! They enjoy a good selection of green plants and vegetables, as well as straw and hay. However, it's worth noting that although we also like a decent amount of vegetables in our Christmas/ Boxing day dinner, don't give your rabbit too many carrots.
Carrots are very high in sugar, which can not only cause problems for your bunny's waistline, but can cause them to develop dental problems in the future. Why not substitute this sugary food for the carrot tops, which are high in calcium, sprout tops, broccoli or cabbage? Of course, all this should be given in moderation, but it is much better for your rabbit and they will thank you for it in the future!
- Pets at Home have launched a 'Change their food, change their life' campaign in order to encourage and educate owners on the right food for their pet. This takes into consideration: size, breed and life stage.
- In a recent survey questioning more than 3,000 pet owners, they found that 85 per cent of cat and dog owners fed their four-legged friends human food and treats on a daily basis. Cheese was the most popular, which can be harmful as some animals are lactose intolerant. 63 per cent of owners admitted to feeding this regularly to their pets.
- Meanwhile, 31 per cent said they gave their cats/dogs fruit, which included raisins or grapes. 27 per cent fed their pets biscuits, which can lead to obesity, and 5 per cent fed their pets chocolate.
- Other goods included bread, roast dinners and crisps, all of which can cause digestive problems for your pets.
So, make sure you feed your pets the food that is best for them. While they may not like it as much as your food, they'll certainly thank you for it later in life.
On that note, I'll leave you with this picture of my rabbit Simba getting into the festive spirit. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!