Dangerous Christmas Plants and Foods

Soopa Pets

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, but there are always hidden dangers for our four legged friends. Here is our Soopa handy guide to dangerous foods and plants to be mindful of this holiday season.We don’t mean to scare you, but it always good to know what you can and can’t feed your pet, what signs to look out for and what to do if they get sick!


  • It varies from pet to pet what the lethal dose or contact time is with all foods and plants. One  pet could have a bite of chocolate and be violently ill, while another dog could polish off a whole advent calendar and be looking for more! It is best to keep these foods out of reach at all times, and the check that other foods do not contain these items.
  • Be mindful where your pet can reach, some determined dogs may be able to get up on that table or counter if they really want to! Putting foods away in a press/cabinet is the safest option.
  • Make sure all children and guests are aware of what foods to avoid sharing with fido! A well-meaning person could be sneaking them dangerous table scraps!
  • Wrappers from foods and chocolates will be tempting as they will smell nice. Make sure these are thrown out right away as they can cause a choking hazard.
  • Be mindful that leaves and berries from plants may fall off naturally. Make sure they cannot fall on the floor or within reach of your pet!
  • Pets can be fast and sneaky. You may not notice they have gotten into the bin, or that you dropped something and your furry hoover picked it up and ran off with it! Designate a pet sitter or use a crate if your pet is familiar with one.
  • Always check food labels to make sure foods do not contain any of these ingredients, and if in doubt, do not feed it to your pet.
  • In most cases, the pet needs to be brought to the vet asap. So ensure you have the emergency number to hand and available to anyone who may need it.


Dangerous Foods:

1.  Chocolate
The chemical Theobromine which is found in chocolate is lethal to dogs. There is a higher concentration of this chemical in dark chocolate than in white chocolate, but it best to avoid all types. Clinical signs of chocolate poisoning include vomiting, diarrhoea, hyperactivity, arrhythmias, tremors and seizures.
Watch out for chocolate decorations, biscuits, cakes etc. Make sure everything is well out of reach. If using chocolate decorations on a tree, remember a determined dog may knock the whole thing over to get to them so keep them up high, and never leave the pet unattended.

2.     Grapes and Raisins
Grapes and raisins can cause kidney damage to dogs if ingested.  Usually the first sign is vomiting (with the grapes or raisins visible in the vomit). This usually happens after 5 hours. Other signs of ingestion include loss of appetite, diarrhoea and stomach pain (crying, biting at stomach).

3.     Christmas Pudding
Christmas puddings and cakes contain raisins, sultanas and alcohol all of which are poisonous to dogs. They are also full of fat which is a risk factor in the development of pancreatitis.

4. Nuts
Almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts and pistachios are common this time of year and they are dangerous to dogs. They can cause poisoning, gastrointestinal upset or throat obstructions. Macadamia nuts may also cause seizures or neurological signs.
Watch out of biscuits, cakes and other foods that may contain these nuts.

5. Bones and Table Scraps
Small cooked bones can splinter and cause lacerations or intestinal blockage all along the intestinal tract. This is one of the most common reasons for veterinary assistance at Christmas.
Table scraps are also a bad idea as Christmas food tends to be indulgent and full of fats and salt and sugar. Also, any sudden changes to your pet’s diet cause stomach upset (pain, vomiting and diarrhoea). High fat foods may also cause pancreatitis.

6. Garlic and Onions
Found in most foods and stuffings and easily dropped on the ground, garlic and onions can be fatal to dogs. They have an enzyme that destroys red blood cells. Signs of onion poisoning include lethargy, weakness, pale gums and vomiting and diarrhoea.

7. Xylitol
Xylitol is used as a sweetener in low carbohydrate products such as cakes and biscuits. It has also recently been added to some peanut butter brands (always check the label). Ingestion of xylitol can result in hypoglycaemia and liver failure.
Clinical signs of hypoglycaemia include fatigue, weakness, and depression. Signs of liver failure develop several days after ingestion and include evidence of internal bleeding (faeces) and jaundice (skin or whites of eyes have a yellow appearance)

Dangerous Plants:

Some decorative plants and flowers can be toxic to dogs and cats. It can be the leaves, berries and sometime the pollen. If in doubt, don’t allow your pets to go anywhere near them, or don’t place them in your house at all. In some cases, the plants will only cause mild indigestion and discomfort, but in others, the toxicity can lead to more severe health problems and may even be fatal.

1) Amaryllis

Amaryllis contains Lycorine and other noxious substances, which cause salivation, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, lethargy and tremors in both dogs and cats. The bulb is reputed to be even more dangerous than the flowers and stalk.


2) Holly

Holly leaves and berries are both poisonous to pets. They have a greater toxicity level than the poinsettia. Symptoms of illness include intestinal upset, such as vomiting and diarrhoea, excessive drooling, and abdominal pain.


3) Mistletoe:

Mistletoe and its berries are toxic to pets. If ingested, Mistletoe can cause severe intestinal upset, a sudden and severe drop in blood pressure, and breathing problems.If a large enough amount of these plants are ingested, seizures and death may follow.



4) Poinsettia:

The brightly coloured leaves of the poinsettia contain a sap that can cause irritation to the tissue of the mouth and oesophagus. If the leaves are ingested,they will often cause nausea and vomiting, but it would take a large amount to cause poisoning.




5) Lilies and Daffodils

Plants in the lily and daffodil family can be toxic to pets. Eating even a small amount of the Lily plant will have a severe impact on a cat’s system, causing severe symptoms such as gastrointestinal issues, arrhythmia, and convulsions. Daffodils are also toxic to both dogs and cats, especially the bulbs.



6) Pesticides:

Any plant that may have been treated with a pesticide can be dangerous to your pet if ingested. Signs of pesticide poisoning include seizures, coma, and in some cases, death.

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