Mince Pie Madness

Christmas has arrived and at Mayne Vets that heralds the arrival of the “I’m really sorry but my dog has eaten…” calls. 

Unfortunately, as much as we all love Christmas, it is a time to be extra careful around your pets. Mince pies have taken an early lead this year with the lovely Cody and Dave pictured below have snuck in a pie or two already. However, we also normally expect a late surge of chocolate poisoning in the fortnight leading up to Christmas.

So as a little reminder of what to be wary of lying around the house at Christmas:

Grapes, raisins, currants, and sultanas:

There are so many things around at Christmas time containing grapes and raisins that sometimes it seems they are everywhere. The other difficulty is that the toxic component to these products is poorly understood. We do know that toxicity can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, and kidney failure, but there is no known correlation between the amount eaten and the toxic effects.  This means that some pets may not show any symptoms, while another pet ingesting the same amount may end up hospitalised on intravenous fluids. Similarly, a pet may have eaten raisins before with no clinical effect, but then develop clinical symptoms the next time having eaten a much smaller amount. 


What would Christmas be without a box of chocolates!  Unfortunately, the theobromine in chocolate is poisonous for both dogs and cats (although cats are normally far too sensible to eat chocolate!). The symptoms of chocolate toxicity can vary from simple vomiting and diarrhoea, through to twitching and seizures, right up to organ failure. Luckily, there is a much clearer correlation between the amount of theobromine ingested and the toxic effect, so it easier for us to know how much treatment a patient will need. Having said that, it is always far better to make sure you do not leave chocolate unattended… we always feel it is such a waste to see it lying in a pool of vomit at the veterinary surgery!

Onions and Garlic

Again, another food toxicity for both cats and dogs in all forms. The toxin in these foods attack red blood cells and can be harmful whether eaten raw or cooked. So, watch out for the stuffing and the gravy, and keep an eye on who is munching the leftovers and “cleaning” the plates.


Don’t forget festive plants such as Mistletoe, Ivy, and Lillies. All to be found at Christmas time and all can result in an unwanted trip to the vet. Mistletoe and Ivy can both cause gastrointestinal symptoms, but Lillies are the biggest worry as they can cause seizures and can even be fatal to cats. Best to keep these out of reach of your pets too.


Foods, plants… what else do we need to avoid?? Well, nothing too much, except Christmas cracker toys, tree decorations, silica gel sachets, candles, tinsel and ribbons… all of these have had to be surgically removed from a beloved pet’s intestine at some stage over Christmas. Surprisingly, ribbons are the ones that can cause most trouble as, they tend to cause most damage to the intestines if swallowed.  Not to be outdone, cats are the most common culprit here, those ribbons are just too tempting to pounce on!

As always, if there are any concerns with any of the above, please contact us, or our out of hours team at Vets Now, straight away. We hope we haven’t made you want to cancel Christmas; we certainly plan to have a chocolate and mince pie fuelled Christmas break! But just note of caution to be wary of what is lying around at pet level because nobody wants a trip to the vet at Christmas time!

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