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Christmas dangers your dog needs to avoid

As your dog’s metabolism is different from yours, feeding them human foods at any time of the year can be very dangerous, even fatal in some cases. Christmas comes with its own set of challenges as our dogs want to be involved in the celebrations, but many of the foods we bring out can be poisonous and cause serious harm.

Steer clear of feeding your pup straight from the dinner table this Christmas. Some foods are particularly toxic to dogs – chocolate being the most well-known culprit. If you’re unsure, avoid human food altogether and stick to your usual dog food with some chewy treats to keep them occupied or pupsicles to keep them cool.

We’ve put together this handy NO list of food, drinks, and even non-edible items you shouldn’t let your dog near this Christmas. Most of the items are for dogs – as they tend to be more curious and greedier when it comes to food – but we’ve also included a couple of items that can be dangerous to all pets.



Never give any alcohol to your dog as ethanol poisoning is very serious and can lead to heart attack, lung failure, coma, or even death.


Avocados and other stone fruit

If you enjoy avocados in your salad or on your toast, make sure you keep them well out of reach of your dog. Avocados have a toxin called persin. Vets say dogs are more resistant to persin than some other animals, but they are not 100% safe from persin poisoning.

Persin is found in the avocado fruit, pits, leaves and bark – so avoid giving any part of the plant to your pup.

The most dangerous part of the avocado for your dog is the stone. If they swallow the stone, it could become lodged in their throat. For the same reason, you should be careful around other stone fruits to avoid choking.



Keep batteries and any toys or other objects that contain them well out of reach of all pets. Swallowing or chewing batteries can be life-threatening, causing deep ulcers in the mouth and oesophagus, abdominal pain, gastric ulcers and vomiting.


Bones (cooked)

Any bone can become stuck in your dog’s throat or pierce their intestinal tract. Don’t give your dog cooked ham bones, poultry bones or any other type of cooked bones, and ensure they can’t rummage in the rubbish and help themselves.


Caffeinated products

Coffee, tea, and other caffeine products like guarana speed up a dog’s heart rate and can cause excessive thirst, an inability to control their bladder, vomiting, and diarrhoea. Even a few sips of a coffee, tea or energy drink can lead to a caffeine overdose.



Eating chocolate can be very dangerous, even deadly, for our dogs. Dark chocolate is the worst - the higher the cocoa content, the more toxic it is. Please NEVER feed your dog any chocolate.


Christmas lights, trees and decorations

When eaten, tinsel, beads, strings, ribbons, and fairy lights can get stuck in your dog’s digestive tract. If this happens, they require life-saving surgery to remove these objects.

Your pet can also get electrocuted if they chew on electric lights. Keep your dogs and cats away from the Christmas tree and any other small, shiny decorations.


Dairy – including milk and cheese

Some dogs can eat cheese without any problems. But others can experience acute pain and allergic reactions. If you don’t want a dog with a sore tummy, it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid milk, cheese, and other dairy products altogether, including ice cream.

Unless it is a pet specific dairy product. Smith and Burton particularly like these New Zealand made brands: K9 Natural’s Dog Milk (lactose free) and Scoop Dog Ice Cream Mix for Dogs – yum, yum and great for a Christmas treat.


Garlic and onions

If eaten in large volumes or over a prolonged period, raw garlic and onions can cause digestive issues and anaemia.


Grapes, raisins and sultanas

Consuming grapes, raisins and sultanas can lead to kidney failure in dogs. For this reason, make sure your dog doesn’t eat any mince pies, fruit cake, Christmas cake or pudding.


Ham, fatty meats, and skin including turkey and chicken skin

The fat content in ham, turkey and chicken skin can lead to upset tummies and cause your dog’s pancreas to inflame, which is known as pancreatitis.


Lilies (for cats)

If you have a cat at home, don’t let them near any part of a lily, even the water in the vase can cause fatal kidney failure in cats. Plants from the daylily and true lily families are the most dangerous.


Macadamia nuts

Even consuming a few macadamia nuts can be dangerous for your dog. The signs of poisoning to look out for include fatigue, hyperthermia, muscle tremors and even paralysis. Walnuts and some other nuts can also be toxic.



Whilst unusual, if your dog consumes high levels of nutmeg, they can suffer severe hallucinations, an elevated heart rate and skin flushing.


Salty foods and gravy

Salty food like pretzels, potato chips and hot chips, and pretzels can lead to water deprivation which can be very harmful to dogs. Please don’t leave the chip bowl on the ground where a curious dog could get to it.

The gravy we love to drizzle over our meats and roast potatoes is too salty and fatty for your dog and could lead to pancreatitis. Don’t let them lick your plate.
Please don’t be tempted to drizzle your gravy over your dog’s dinner. Instead, you can try a pet specific gravy. Smith and Burton like New Zealand made Earthz Pet Vitality Gravy for Dogs. It’s super tasty, nutritional, and full of natural goodness designed for your dog.



The onion and garlic in stuffing can destroy your dog’s red blood cells, leading to life-threatening anaemia.


Xylitol/sugar alcohol in lollies, chewing gum, toothpaste, and some baked goods.

Be careful when you’re passing around the lollies because if your dog eats food containing xylitol, they can experience a sudden and significant drop in their blood sugar. Within half an hour of eating, they may vomit, appear weak and depressed, have difficulty moving and even have a coma and seizure. Sadly, xylitol poisoning is very serious and can lead to liver damage and death.

What you can do: Spoil them (in moderation) with dog-friendly treats instead.

Tasty, healthy treats can keep your dog occupied. Some can also help with dental hygiene! Dental chew treats can help with a more thorough clean, and if your pup has particular dietary needs, there are plenty of low-fat and grain-free dog treat options available to spoil your dog this festive season.

Here are just some of Smith and Burton’s favourite New Zealand made natural dog treats: Gourmate Pet Treat Company, Woof Freeze Dry Treats, Tu Meke Friend Natural Dog Treats, and Animals Like Us Good Dog Treats.


Treatment and prevention

If your dog has eaten any items from the NO list, contact a vet immediately for treatment. Do your best to guess how much they’ve eaten, as this can help your vet provide the right treatment.

Prevention is always better than cure though. This Christmas make sure you don’t feed your dog straight from the table, keep your used crockery and cutlery away from your dog so they’re not tempted to lick them, secure your leftovers and rubbish, and don’t let them near your Christmas tree. Tell your guests to do the same so everyone can keep your dog happy and safe.

But you don’t have to leave your dog out of the celebrations. Spoil them with New Zealand made, natural dog-friendly treats instead, and let them enjoy pet-safe family traditions and festivities.