8 foods NOT to feed your dog this Christmas

Co-author: Michelle Norton 

Whether it′s food, drink or spending, most of us overindulge at Christmas time. So do our pets! While we humans may suffer no more than a stomach ache, sore head or scary credit card balance as a result of our transgressions, some festive foods can seriously injure – or kill – your fur baby. Canstar takes a look at 8 foods to keep well away from your canine friends this Christmas


Most pet owners are well aware of this already, but it′s an easy one to forget at Christmas. Those bars of Toblerone or boxes of your favourite chocolate treats, wrapped nicely under the tree, can be highly toxic to your dog (or cat), even in small quantities.

According to the New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA), the alkaloid called theobromine, found in the cacao plant, is what makes chocolate toxic for dogs, as 1 news reported.

A standard 200g block of dark chocolate contains around 1400mg of theobromine  – potentially enough to kill a small dog of around 7-14kg, and cause tremors and seizures in large dogs above 20kg. Avoid it at all costs. So, if you’re giving someone a chocolate gift, make sure you keep the sweet treat well out of the way of your dogs. Those clever animals can easily tear their way through the wrap!


Adding a dash of nutmeg to your baking this Christmas? Don′t fling it around – it′s actually one of the lesser known poisonous foods and can cause dogs to suffer from tremors, seizures, issues with the nervous system and even death.

Grapes and raisins

Thanks to the traditional plum pudding, not to mention mince pies, Kiwis probably consume more raisins at Christmas time than through the entire remainder of the year! Both raisins and grapes, though, can cause acute kidney failure in your dog.


Avocados are a popular Christmas treat. But they also contain a dangerous toxin which can damage the heart, lungs and tissue of many different animals, including dogs. Fortunately, the effect in dogs is usually mild – definitely keep avocados away from any pet birds, though!

Macadamia nuts

These popular Christmas nuts can also be toxic to dogs. Symptoms generally present within 12 hours and can include vomiting, hyperthermia and elevated heart rate. So don’t forget to keep in mind whether any of your sweet treat gifts under the tree contain macadamia nuts.

Onions and garlic

It′s amazing what some dogs will crunch into; both onions and garlic can cause gastric irritation and anaemia if eaten in large quantities so, be mindful of this when preparing turkey stuffing or Christmas vegetables.

Turkey skin, pork crackling, sausages and fatty meats

For many a human these are delicious indulgent treats. But for dogs, they can all lead to inflammation of the pancreas due to high fat content. Actually, let’s be real, these foods are not all that great for owners, either! To put it into context with a human example, the NZVA advises that a small dog eating one sausage is equivalent to a person eating 14 sausages!


Christmas tis the season to be jolly and we tend to do it with beer, wine and bubbles. But even small amounts of alcohol can kill a pet. Half-empty glasses, spilled drink – even fermented foods –  keep them out of reach of dogs.

The best treat you can give your pet over Christmas is quality pet treats from your vet clinic, pet store or supermarket that contain the right nutrients to keep them healthy.  Another “treat” to buy for your pet for Christmas is potentially a good-quality pet insurance.

If you suspect your pet has eaten something toxic, then you should contact your veterinarian immediately.

Make sure you have pet insurance

As well as keeping your dog away from these toxic foods, it also importamt to make sure your pet is covered, should anything manage to get into their system. Pet care can be extremely expensive and trying to come up with huge sums of money for vet bills in among all the other festive expenses can create a serious headache. Because we understand how important pets are to their owners, we have surveyed New Zealanders to find out their level of satisfaction with pet insurers in New Zealand. By using Canstar’s free comparision tools, you can see how the different providers stack up in terms of their product and services. To find out more, just hit the button below.

Compare pet insurers with Canstar

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