We all love our pets, and the temptation to share with them all the Christmas goodness from the dinner table can sometimes be overwhelming. But this year, please don’t!

Over the festive period, veterinarians are too often treating pets whose common cause for their health problem is purely due to them having been given inappropriate foods and being overfed.

This year follow these tips to keep your best mate happy and healthy:

Treat with them love rather than food.


Think ‘just a little treat’ is okay? Think again! One piece of bacon (or ham) given to your dog is equivalent to a human eating thirteen pieces of bacon. It’s best to feed your pet a high quality, nutritionally dense pet food, such as Hills Vet Essentials, to ensure they are getting the nourishment they need (some supermarket brands contain fillers that add bulk rather than nutrition).

It’s also important to not feed your pet more food than usual, particularly if they’re not exercising as much. Just an extra kilo or two can make a small cat or dog obese. Feeding your pet too much food can also lead to stomach upsets and diarrhoea. Treat them with love rather than food. Take them for walks, throw that ball or Frisbee and enjoy cuddles on the couch. Giving gifts such as toys, a new collar and lead or a comfy bed rather than food items is recommended.

Avoid feeding the following foods at any time of year:

  • Chocolate – toxic to the heart and nervous system.
  • Grapes, raisins and sultanas – can cause acute kidney failure.
  • Garlic and onions – may cause blood cell damage and anaemia.
  • Avocado – may cause stomach upsets such as vomiting and diarrhoea.
  • Coffee and tea – may cause stomach upsets. Caffeine is toxic to the heart and nervous system.
  • Xylitol (found in gum, lollies etc.) – can lead to liver failure.
  • Cooked bones – may cause stomach lacerations, punctures and can easily become stuck in the throat.
  • Nuts – macadamia nuts, mouldy pecans and walnuts can cause seizures, vomiting and neurological issues.
  • Sage (a seasoning used in stuffing) can cause tummy upsets and central nervous system damage.
  • Alcohol – may cause intoxication, coma and death.
  • Dairy foods – can cause stomach upsets such as diarrhoea.
  • Fatty foods such as sausages, ham bones etc. – may cause pancreatitis.

Decorations while pretty can be hazardous.

Ensure your tree is stable, especially if you have a cat that is a climber and avoid traditional Christmas plants such as poinsettias, holly and lilies which are toxic to pets. Consider your electrical cords and Christmas lights; they need to be kept out of their reach.

Keep their Christmas ‘cool’.

Thunderstorms, cyclones, the heat and humidity can all have an effect on your pets. Keep your pets cool by ensuring they have a constant supply of fresh water available throughout the day, exercise them early morning or late evening and introduce water play into their daily activities. ‘Pupsicles’ (ice pops for dogs) and frozen treat blocks (Google has some great recipes) are a great way to keep your pets occupied and cool over summer.

Prepare now if they suffer anxiety.

Speak with one of our veterinarians now to discuss what you can do to relieve their anxiety if you know that your pet will suffer from things like fireworks that can be very stressful. Make sure your pet is kept safe and secure especially if being left alone.

Make sure they can ‘check in’ while you ‘check out’.

To ensure a protective level of immunity is reached, all boarding facilities require your pet’s vaccinations to be up to date, and their vaccine course must be completed two to three weeks prior to you checking them in. The hot, humid weather of the festive season also brings an increase in fleas so ensure you keep their flea preventative treatment up to date.


For more information on these points and a list of foods to avoid feeding your pet at any time of the year, visit

Keep an eye on our Facebook page for some more information about preventing common Christmas pet hazards. Cairns Veterinary Clinic wishes you and your pets a very Merry Christmas and a healthy and happy 2018.