With the festive season just around the corner, pet parents across the country are preparing to shower their furred family members in special Christmas treats. In fact, 33%* of UK pets will be celebrating the festive season by indulging in rich turkey dinners and seasonal sweets. But could this be damaging their health?
This Christmas, we set out to discover the seasonal habits of pet owners in the UK with our Santa Paws survey. When it came to diet, most owners were happy to spend extra on high quality, nutritious treats over the holiday period. However, around one third admitted to treating their pets to Christmas dinner leftovers, novelty treats or even chocolate. Whilst these treats are given with the best of intentions, they could be doing more harm than good.
First, let’s take a look at Christmas dinners. Onions and garlic are often present in stuffing, gravy and even as a garnish on other components of the meal. Both cats and dogs are particularly sensitive to these ingredients, which can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea and lack of appetite. Turkey bones can also be chocking hazard, so make sure they are disposed of so that your pets will not find them.
Christmas pudding, cake and mince pies should be strictly off the menu as they contain raisins and sultanas, which can make pets seriously ill. Speaking of treats, whilst those puppy dog eyes might make it extremely tempting to share a small piece of chocolate with your loving pooch on Christmas morning, don’t give in! Chocolate is poisonous to pets so make sure all your sugary treats are kept well out of sight and avoid leaving chocolate coins and treats either on or under the Christmas tree.
But what about cheap, novelty pet treats? It can be tempting to pick up some cheap ‘stocking filler’ treats for your pets over the holidays, but it’s important to remember that all treats should be consumed as part of a balanced diet. Too many cheap, novelty treats over Christmas can be counter productive as they are packed with calories and unhealthy preservatives. Instead, opt for healthy treats and use them sparingly to reward good behaviour during the festive celebrations.
Pets are unaware of the foods that are bad for them and, dogs in particular, will eat most things that are put in front of them. Your pets need you to look after their wellbeing for them, so keep them healthy by sticking to a consistent and nutritious diet, and of course the occasional healthy treat!