Christmas: These foods are taboo for dogs

Dusseldorf. Christmas time is a time for feasting. Because without cookies, Christmas stollen, nuts or gingerbread, the festive season would probably only be half as wonderful for many people. Even dogs can hardly resist these delicacies. But caution is advised here – because sweets in particular can cause considerable harm to animals.

Many pet owners mean well when Waldi also gets a piece of the Stollen, the roast goose or the chocolate Santa Claus. These foods are not only harmful to animals, but can even lead to poisoning if larger quantities are consumed. If your beloved four-legged friend has stolen a piece of chocolate from the table, the owner needs to be able to react quickly. It's best to make a note of the animal emergency services in your area before the holidays.

Chocolate is poison for animals
Cats tend to react critically to new things, whereas dogs are usually happy to accept a piece of Stollen or gingerbread if it is offered to them as a treat. However, responsible pet owners should avoid this offer. “An absolute no-go is chocolate,” reports veterinarian PD Dr. med. vet. Franziska Kuhne. “The higher the cocoa content in the chocolate, the more likely it is that dogs and cats will develop symptoms of poisoning.” 100 grams of dark chocolate with 70, 80 or even 90 percent can even kill a small dog or cat and cause significant damage to a larger dog, for example to the liver or kidney. Even small amounts can cause stomach or intestinal problems. The reason for this is the theobromine contained in cocoa, which affects us humans like caffeine, but can only be broken down slowly by the body of a dog or cat. Like ours, sugar is also bad for our four-legged friends' teeth. Therefore: even at Christmas – no sweets for our animal family members.

Oranges, raisins and nuts are also taboo for dogs and cats
In addition to sweets, things like fruits and nuts often end up on Christmas plates. These should also be placed out of the reach of dogs and cats. “When it comes to nuts, macadamia nuts in particular are harmful to dogs’ health,” reveals Kuhne. One nut per kilogram of body weight can also cause symptoms of poisoning in animals. “Five macadamia nuts for a five kilogram dog would be dangerous,” said the veterinarian. Tropical fruits are also not good for dogs and cats due to their acidity, the same goes for grapes and raisins. Consumption can lead to serious kidney damage in four-legged friends.

Christmas roast – spices and bones are dangerous
The Christmas roast is not the problem per se, the added ingredients such as onions, garlic, wild garlic or other types of leek are more dangerous. The four-legged friends also cannot tolerate spices such as pepper or chili. In the case of roasts such as goose or duck, the bones can cause injuries to the animal's esophagus if eaten. If you want to give dogs something from the holiday meal, then it's better to give them a few potatoes, rice or pasta – unseasoned and without sauce.

No alcohol for dogs and cats
In addition to coffee, animals should not be given alcohol. “Some owners like to give their dog or cat a sip of eggnog at the holidays, but animals can also get alcohol poisoning,” emphasizes the expert. The size of the animal is also crucial here. For a small Chihuahua, even very small amounts of alcohol can cause problems or even lead to poisoning.

Offer alternatives
“For larger dogs where the table is at head height, it only helps to put the food out of reach and, if necessary, lock the animals out of the kitchen,” explains Kuhne. As an alternative to treats, dogs can be offered chewing bones or a chew toy filled with quark, yoghurt or liver sausage. Then the animals have something to nibble or lick and are kept busy. “These alternatives are also doing something good for your four-legged friends,” reports the veterinarian. Cats now also have a lot of treats that keep them busy for a while. Since velvet paws prefer to work for their food, you can hide the treats around the apartment, for example.

What should you do if the animal has stolen a piece of chocolate?
Signs that dogs or cats have secretly stolen something from the Christmas plates include vomiting, diarrhea, shortness of breath, a racing heart or if the animals sway or get cramps. “Even if they are particularly calm or excited, this can be a sign that the animal has eaten something wrong. “In this case, it is important to see the vet as quickly as possible,” advises Kuhne. To prevent this from happening, cookies, cakes and other delicacies should always be kept out of the reach of your four-legged friends. Then nothing stands in the way of a harmonious (pre-)Christmas season with your beloved pets.