According to research released by Royal Canin, some festive favourites that we give our pets could be causing long-term damage to your dog’s health.
Royal Canin asked 2,000 UK dog owners about changes in their feeding habits over Christmas, and 85% of owners admitted to feeding their dog a whole Christmas dinner to make them feel part of the family on Christmas day.
As well as Christmas dinner, the research found that owners are guilty of feeding their pets a number of festive ‘treats’, including:
- Pigs in Blankets (94%)
- Stuffing (71%)
- Roast chestnuts (29%)
- Mince pies (9%)
- Chocolate yule log (7%)
Commenting on the findings, veterinary expert Dr Lauren Hayes, said: “Many Christmas foods are bad for dogs due to the presence of toxic substances, like raisings in mince pies, xylitol in sweets, and high levels of fat in items like pigs in blankets. Although not all dogs will react severely it is important to remember that toxic foods can lead to damaging health problems like kidney failure, digestive upsets and pancreatitis.
“Feeding your dog a complete, balanced diet is so important for their health and you risk undoing all of your hard work by feeding them potentially harmful foods just because its Christmas.”
Royal Canin carried out the research to raise awareness and educate pet owners on the importance of feeding your dog a balanced diet, and the effects of certain foods can have on your pet’s health if indulged in on a regular basis with studies showing obesity can shorten a dog’s lifespan by two and a half years.
Hannah Poile, Scientific Communications Manager at Royal Canin, said: “Over the Christmas period it can be really tempting to spoil your dog with extra treats and share your favourite festive foods with them, but sticking with your pet’s regular feeding pattern over Christmas is the best thing for them, even if it makes you feel like a bit of a Scrooge.
“If you want to treat your pet at Christmas, a new toy or extra playtime will go down just as well as a pig in blanket – and will be much more beneficial for their health.”
In addition to what dogs have been fed, the research also asked owners what their pets have stolen and eaten without their knowledge. The five things most often stolen and eaten by dogs are:
- Wrapping paper (61%)
- Paper party hats (56%)
- Tinsel (38%)
- Baubles (36%)
- Selection box (12%)
Two fifths (39%) of respondents admitted that they have needed to make an unscheduled trip to the vets as a result of something their dog has digested, with the average unexpected vet’s bill adding up to a staggering £890.
Dr Hayes commented: “Stealing and potentially ingesting products like these can cause injury to dog’s mouth and face, as well as their digestive tract. They could also cause blockages in the intestines and potentially perforate the intestines or stomach which requires urgent veterinary care.
“It’s always best to keep chocolates, mince pies, cakes and sweets in high up cupboards away from your dog’s reach, including gift-wrapped treats that would usually be under the Christmas tree. Similarly, don’t hang chocolate decorations on low branches of your tree and consider getting a dog-proof guard if your pet is prone to stealing baubles.”