Christmas Dangers

We are preparing for Christmas here at Nithsdale vets. Our festive treats are in stock and our decorations have been dusted off and are on display. Christmas is an exciting time for all the family and we know that fellow animal lovers want their pet to be included in the joy that Christmas brings. Here is some information for you to ensure your four legged friends stay safe this winter time.


Chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine which is toxic to cats and dogs. The darker the chocolate the more potent the theobromine becomes. Please keep chocolate away from temptation from your pet. Don’t store any presents that may contain something tasty under the tree and don’t offer chocolate as a treat. If you think your pet has consumed chocolate of any kind, please contact the surgery for advice. Did you know that you can buy “doggy chocolate” treats that are safe for your canine friend?


Alcohol has a similar effect in dogs and cats as it does in humans. In severe cases it can cause low body temperature, low blood sugar and coma. Please keep alcohol out of reach from your pet. They prefer to get merry on cuddles and exercise!

Christmas pudding and mince pies

Grapes, raisins, currants and sultanas are all toxic to cats and dogs. Even small amounts can cause kidney failure so if you think your pet has ate all the pies, please contact the surgery immediately.

Onions, garlic, leeks, shallots and chives

As humans, adding the above to our food creates lots of tasty flavours. This can make it tempting to feed your pet leftovers so they can enjoy a special treat too. Unfortunately, these are all toxic to our pets. Initially your pet can develop vomiting and diarrhoea, however, the main effect is damage to red blood cells resulting in anaemia.

Macadamia nuts

Raw or cooked nuts are poisonous to our pets. Ingestion of nuts can cause lethargy, increased body temperature, tremors, lameness and stiffness.

Artificial sweeteners

Many sweets consumed over Christmas can contain an artificial sweetener called xylitol (also found in chewing gum, mouthwash and toothpaste). This is poisonous to dogs and cats as it can induce the release of insulin causing low blood sugar and sometimes liver damage. We find the best way to keep your pet away from sweets is to consume them all yourself!

Christmas decorations

Decorations made out of plastic, paper or foil may cause an obstruction in the stomach if ingested. Place decorations higher on your tree and don’t leave your pet unattended in a room where decorations are present. It could end up being a costly way of making your home Christmassy!


Receiving flowers as a gift is lovely, however, lilies are in fact very toxic to cats. All parts of the plant are toxic including pollen and cause acute kidney failure. If you are buying flowers for a cat lover, stay clear of lilies.


Its lovely waking up to a cold crisp morning in winter time. With temperatures dropping below 0 degrees most nights we are having to defrost our cars most mornings. Antifreeze is very toxic to pets and can cause acute kidney failure. This can be especially dangerous for cats as it is sweet tasting and can attract them to consume it. We recommend turning your car on 5 minutes before setting off or getting in a morning work-out by scraping the windows!

Meat bones

Small bones splinter easily and can cause serious injury to your pet’s mouth or digestive tract. We understand you want your pet to enjoy a bit of Christmas dinner too so why not feed your pet some cooked turkey without bones.


Not all foods are toxic to your pet, however, high fat foods can cause pancreatitis and cause your pet to become ill over the festive period. Don’t let your pet over indulge – stick to their normal diet with adding a little turkey on Christmas day and plenty of exercise so they don’t develop a belly like Santa’s.