A handy guide to Christmas poisons, dangers and irritants for your pets

It’s that time of year again where the phone lines are jammed with the same enquiry and the reception is full of the same problem: “Mr Eatseverythingthatsnotnaileddown has snaffled a [insert Christmas treat/ornament/toy here]- is it a problem?”

So here are the things to look out for, and a guide to how much chocolate really is toxic.

Foods and object irritant or poisonous to dogs and cats

Common Christmas Dangers

Poisonous or dangerous:

  • Chocolate and liquorice (common Christmas gifts)
  • Raisins and sultanas (used in Christmas cake and mince pie recipes)
  • Certain nuts (especially peanuts and Macadamia nuts)
  • Xylitol-sweetened foods
  • Sweets
  • Other foods such as onions, avocados and grapes
  • Alcohol
  • Plants including lilies (and daffodils)
  • Cleaning and DIY products eg white spirit and lubricating oils
  • Car anti-freeze
  • Human medicines
  • Turkey skin and bones

For a more complete explanation, the kennel club has an excellent guide.

Irritants but usually not poisonous:

  • Blu-tack or other similar adhesives (used to put up decorations)
  • Charcoal and coal
  • Cut-flower and houseplant food
  • Expended polystyrene foam (used for large present packing eg stereos/TVs)
  • Holly, mistletoe and poinsettia (common Christmas plants/decorations)
  • Matches
  • Wax candles and crayons
  • Silica gel (found in packaging)
  • Anything with Danny Dyer in it

THE BIG ONE- how much chocolate is safe?

The quick answer is don’t feed chocolate to dogs! It’s the theobromine in chocolate that’s toxic. In general 100-150mg/kg of theobromine is needed to cause a toxic reaction

  • Milk chocolate contains 150mg theobromine per 100g – i.e. it’s poisonous at 100g per kg of dog
  • Dark chocolate can contain 1500mg theobromine per 100g – i.e. it’s poisonous at 10g per kg of dog

So a 20kg Labrador needs around 2kg of milk chocolate to be poisoned, whereas only 50g of dark chocolate would poison a 5kg Yorkshire Terrier.

These are the minimum fatal doses- play it safe and ring the us if they’ve eaten more than 25% of the toxic dose i.e. more than 25g per kg milk chocolate, or 2.5g per kg dark chocolate