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What NOT to feed this Christmas!

December 22nd, 2004, 08:32 AM

There has been a lot of articles in the news about the lethal effects of chocolate recently and here’s why! Chocolate contains theobromine. Theobromine is a similar compound to caffeine and stimulates the heart and nervous system. In dogs it can poison them with death occurring from heart failure. Cats may not metabolise chocolate in the same way as dogs but are also thought to be at risk.

Plain and dark chocolate contains more theobromine and therefore is more dangerous than milk chocolate if your dog or cat ingests it. Theobromine stays in the dogs system for a long time, this means that chocolate poisoning can even occur if small amounts of chocolate are fed repeatedly.

Also remember that cocoa powder, baking chocolate and other foods contain theobromine. In the November 2003 Issue of Dogs Today they also pointed out that Cocoa mulch (sold in garden centres) smells delicious to dogs but is highly toxic.

Dog chocolate has had the theobromine removed. However, if it contains milk (see below) and sugar then it is probably best you avoid this as well, especially if your dog is already overweight!


‘Cats and dogs along with most other mammals lose, to a variable extent, their ability to digest lactose (milk sugar) with age, because the activity of the enzyme lactase declines with age’ Source ‘Manual of Companion Animal Nutrition and Feeding’ by BSAVA (British Small Animal Veterinary Association).

Lactose cannot be broken down without the enzyme lactase. Cats and dogs which are lactose intolerant may suffer from diarrhoea and/or flatulence when fed milk.


The ASCPA (Animal Poison Control Centre in the USA) has recently published information stating the toxicity of raisins and grapes in dogs (they do not know how they affect cats yet, but advise to avoid feeding them anyway). Eating just a handful of raisins and grapes has been shown to cause kidney failure. They do not know why as yet but it might be due to a pesticide sprayed on the grapes or perhaps a type of mould found on the skin of grapes and raisins.

Christmas Treats!

Most dogs and cats will get a bit of Christmas dinner this year, however bear in mind that if it is more than the occasional scrap, very fatty foods may lead to problems such as pancreatitis. The pancreas releases enzymes to help digest the food. Pancreatitis is a very painful inflammatory condition associated with the ingestion of fatty foods.


Green vegetables are a great way of boosting your dogs immune system, you can feed these raw or cooked. You could even try a piece of raw carrot as a healthy treat. Vegetables are probably better for dogs than fruit. Some fruits are quite acidic (as well as sugary) and may not be good for dogs with skin or digestive complaints.

Remember, everything in moderation! You do not want to be clearing up diarrhoea due to too much Christmas pudding!

December 22nd, 2004, 09:50 AM
Is it ok to give small pieces of cooked turkey breast (without skin)? After Den-Den had his emergency with HGE a couple years ago, the vet suggested cooked lean chicken breast for treats. Wouldn't it be the same?

Also, we used to give him "Good Boy Drops" which were doggie chocolates made from karob. He loved them. I don't buy them anymore so I don't have a box to read the ingredients.

December 22nd, 2004, 11:01 AM
To add to Mastiflover's great post....ONIONS are suppossedly toxic...???
I'd never heard of this before, and god knows Gypsy's skoffed more than one cheeseburger w/onions (OOOOPS ;) ) but now that I saw that, I won't be chancing it.

December 22nd, 2004, 11:04 AM
I have a really extensive list but you can do a google search and you would not believe plants and foods that can be toxic there is also a list for cats since certain things are toxic to cats and not dogs and vice versa. Best plan moderation and stick to dog or cat food not too many christmas goodies

December 22nd, 2004, 12:04 PM
I went onto google and did a search and this is some of the things that it listed on a site....

Foods Potentially Poisonous to Pets
The following foods may be dangerous to your pet:
Alcoholic beverages
Apple seeds
Apricot pits
Avocados—toxic to birds, mice, rabbits, horses, cattle, and dairy goats
Cherry pits
Chocolate (baker's, semi-sweet, milk, dark)—poisonous to dogs, cats, and ferrets
Coffee (grounds, beans, chocolate covered espresso beans)
Hops (used in home beer brewing)
Macadamia nuts
Moldy foods
Mushroom plants
Mustard seeds
Onions and onion powder
Peach pits
Potato leaves and stems (green parts)
Rhubarb leaves
Tea (caffeine)
Tomato leaves and stems (green parts)
Yeast dough

Chocolate staggering, laboured breathing, vomiting, diarhea, abdominal pain, tremours, fever, heart rate increase, arrythmia, seizures, coma, death
Coffee / Cocoa staggering, laboured breathing, vomiting, diarhea, abdominal pain, tremours, fever, heart rate increase, arrythmia, seizures, coma, death
Onions Hemolytic Anemia, laboured breathing, liver damage, vomiting, diarhea, discoloured urine
Mushrooms abdominal pain, drooling, liver damage, kidney damage, vomiting diarhea, convulsions, coma, death
Grapes / Raisins vomiting, diarhea, abdominal pain, lethargy

Just so thought I would tell you all what I read. :D

December 22nd, 2004, 03:17 PM
Pointsettas also. They are poisonous.

In Novemeber we had to rush Capone to the emergency Vet after my BF's mothers funeral after bringing home the flowers. That was the most inconvient time for the dog to get sick but I guess when it rains it pours. We had the flowers on the table but one little leaf fell off and he was sniffing it. not even 10 minutes later capone broke out in hives all along his sides. Sizes of golf balls. Mind you this was 1 am after a very long emotionally draining day. We called the after hours and they to bring his butt in now. By the time he was at the vet it seemed he was hullcinating. He acted as if he was hearing things coming from all angles. Almost jumped the front desk, causing the receptionist to back up in horror. So please rememebr Flowers are so dangerous. I don't know if it wa sthe leaf he sniffed or them just being in the house. SO we kept them outside till they died. What a day that was.

December 22nd, 2004, 07:30 PM
Is it ok to give small pieces of cooked turkey breast (without skin)? After Den-Den had his emergency with HGE a couple years ago, the vet suggested cooked lean chicken breast for treats. Wouldn't it be the same?

That's fine.Every time we cooked turkey for the holidays,Yukon and Tron would always get some.They loved it.I even mixed in some rice.And I have been doing it for years.Even the cats get some.And I have never had any health issues with them.

As for the grapes,it's the seeds that are toxic.This being told to me by a few vets.I had been giving my previous GSD the seedless ones as treats.No more than 3.He loved them.And he lived to be 13 with no health problems.Yukon and Tron also got the seedless grapes for treats.Same thing,no health problems. :)

December 22nd, 2004, 07:36 PM
why would they say no raisins then? Just curious...

December 22nd, 2004, 07:41 PM
Because raisins have seeds in them.

December 22nd, 2004, 07:44 PM
OH! They do? ;)

I'll bet frozen grapes would make a really special treat!!

December 22nd, 2004, 07:55 PM
Yup,they do. :)

Never tried them frozen.

December 23rd, 2004, 07:05 AM
While we still do not know what caused it, it was very serious. By the time we saw symptoms and took her to the vet (< 6 hours) our puppy died on the table. I do not know yet what was ingested...but add to your list plastercine, kids sculpy clay. They are very toxic.
Thanks so much for this post. It is very helpful.

Sadie's Mom
December 23rd, 2004, 10:36 PM
Oh my goodness, I had no idea about grapes and raisins! Glad I read that. Sadie will eat anything!

ETA: Luvmypit, Capone is the coolest name!!!

December 26th, 2004, 12:24 PM
The most comprehensive info I have found on what to avoid is on the American SPCA site ( ) and click on the Animal Poison Control Center button.

December 26th, 2004, 01:15 PM
Thanks Carey! It mentions that Christmas tree water can contain fertilizers or can become a breeding ground for bacteria.

December 27th, 2004, 09:11 PM
I have read the lists of things that are dangerous...but licorice wasn't mentioned, and yup, Jake ate a bunch of it this afternoon. Does anyone know if this will just give him a belly ache or real problems. He is acting normally so far...

I also read about giving him some vaseline to send it on through. Sounds like a plan!

I would appreciate any feed back.