Christmas treats potentially fatal for dogs, vets warn

Vets are warning dog owners that delicious Christmas treats could be fatal for their furry friends.

A golden retriever on the beach. Source:

Holiday foods like chocolate, fruit mince and barbeque meats can be dangerous and should kept away from pets, the New Zealand Veterinary Association says.

"For dogs, they can cause everything from mild reactions such as vomiting and diarrhoea to severe reactions," said Dr Cath Watson.

A 200g block of dark chocolate could kill a small dog, and cause seizures in larger dogs, she said.

Theobromine, a bitter alkaloid found in the cacao plant, is what makes chocolate poisonous for dogs and even a small amount can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and hyperactivity - not ideal on Christmas Day.

Sausages are another thing to keep out of reach of your pampered pooch. The NZVA said a small dog eating one sausage is like a human eating 14.

"Don't allow dogs to eat scraps and ensure they can't reach the barbeque while any meat is on it," Dr Watson said.

Fatty meats can cause pain and vomiting, or even cause blockages that could require surgery to treat.

Christmas cake and mince pies aren't safe either, as raisins and grapes are both toxic for dogs.

"Consumption of these fruits can result in rapid loss of kidney function and anuria (lack of urine production). Because of this, it's a good idea to keep all sweets out of dogs' reach."

If, despite your best efforts, the dog gets into chocolate, fruit mince or fatty meat, you should contact your vet or emergency clinic right away, the NZVA said.