It’s the meal where loose fitting pants are almost compulsory. And it’s also a meal where we can get a little loose with the allocation of left-overs to the drooling mouth lurking under (or maybe at!) the Christmas lunch table.
But as someone from a family of vets who’s family tradition is almost to always have their festivities interrupted by a furry emergency, I thought I’d give you the top 3 causes of Christmas lunch calamity! And here’s the first surprise. You won’t find chocolate, onions, grapes or the other most feared foods on the list…
A bit rich: Get this, nothing causes more problems than plain old fat. Probably because it’s such a feature of so many Christmas foods (I’m looking at you pork crackling) and is what gives them that irresistible flavour. But here’s the thing. What looks like a little piece is so much more when you’re small. Remember, we’re around 5-10 times bigger than most dogs and up to 20 times larger than cats. So in your mind, imagine trying to eat a piece of crackling or ham fat 10 times what you’re giving them. Urgggh. It would make your stomach turn right? And it does just that for them. It’s why Boxing Day is the most common day of the year for diarrhoea or even worse, pancreatitis flare ups. If you DO have to give a little snack, stick with the pure proteins that aren’t salted and please, TINY amounts. But honestly, these are the moments I created my treats for.
Not quite just desserts?!: This is the sneakiest danger of all. Sure dogs are drawn to sweet treats like we are (interesting side-note: Cats don’t really have a sweet tooth) and that fat and cream causes more stomach upsets and diarrhoea but a Christmas quirk means dessert is dangerously loaded on the big day. Why? Because we soak dried fruits with alcohol. Just quietly, we’re pretty generous on the rest of the pudding and Christmas cake as well. I’ve actually seen both cats and dogs on intravenous drips after consuming alcohol in cakes and puddings as the alcohol is terrible for their kidneys and leads to a toxic shock their body struggles to cope with. Left-over drinks left lying around are another way to have an unfortunate new take on Christmas spirit…
Oh nuts: Yes Christmas is about the turkey, pork and ham. But it’s also about the little snacks too. And more than any other time of year, the bowl of nuts appears. And then mysteriously disappears when we’re having that afternoon nap. While the fat again causes some stomach upsets across all nuts, macadamia nuts offer a unique set of challenges. Through a unique toxin, sneaking more than one macadamia per 2kg of bodyweight can cause problems like muscle tremors, fever and even have them appearing like they’re drunk. So that’s around 5 nuts for a 10kg Cavoodle.
Honourable Christmas mentions must go to the cooked bones that if chewed and swallowed get stuck or even cause some post-Christmas constipation, those stray, yet very chewable kids toys that are too hard to resist a munch on or even adventure pups escaping through open gates at unfamiliar relatives houses. We’ve all considered escaping family on the big day but unfortunately this is the most dangerous way to do it.
Dodge these little challenges though and you’re all set for a celebration with the family (two legged and four) that you’ve well and truly earned. Here’s to a much better (and predictable) 2023!