Not sharing can be caring when it comes to Christmas treats and your pets

22 December 2020
Christmas warning

Avoid giving your dog a ham bone at Christmas because the bones are brittle and likely to splinter. Photo: File.

Canberrans thinking of giving their pooches ham bones as a special treat this Christmas are being warned to think again as the consequences can be deadly.

Canberra veterinarian Michael Archinal said that if you want to avoid rushing your dog to an emergency centre on Christmas day, then find them a safer treat.

Dr Archinal from Manuka Vet Hospital said that ham bones have been smoked, making them brittle and likely to splinter – and therefore a risk to the dog.

He said that while some people might have given their dogs ham bones for years, they can still suddenly find it is a problem.

“For 95 per cent of animals it will be fine but it’s the small percentage that have a problem.”

Sometimes it can prove fatal but Dr Archinal said eating cooked bones can also lead to other problems for dogs such as chipped teeth or bowel issues.

“We see it often – fractured teeth or they’ll demolish the whole lot and be constipated,” said Dr Archinal.

“If you’re going to give a dog a bone the first thing to avoid is the cooking process.”

Dr Archinal said that sometimes people also cut fat off the ham and give it to the dog – with their pet unable to handle eating so much ham fat.

“They can get pancreatitis and it can be fatal,” he said.

Sadly, a few years ago Dr Archinal saw a Border Collie die after eating too much ham fat.

“As a rule of thumb, if you wouldn’t eat it yourself then don’t feed it to your pet,” he said.

Family dog at Christmas time.

Canberra vet advises not feeding anything to your dog that you wouldn’t eat yourself. Photo: File.

RSPCA ACT is also reminding pet-owners of the dangers of festive foods for animals.

“Certain foods can be toxic to your pets,” RSPCA ACT CEO Michelle Robertson says. “We want pet owners to know when ‘not sharing’ falls into the caring category this holiday season.”

Festive foods your pet should avoid include:

  • Alcohol – Can cause intoxication, lack of coordination, poor breathing and even coma and/or death in pets.
  • Avocado – can cause diarrhoea vomiting, and heart congestion in dogs.
  • Chocolate – can cause diarrhoea, vomiting, elevated heart rate and seizures in dogs.
  • Coffee – can be fatal to dogs, and cause seizures, heart problems and vomiting.
  • Fruit cake – for dogs, currants, grapes and raisins are toxic to the kidneys and can make them lethargic and cause increased thirst and vomiting. Fruit cake also often contains alcohol which can also be toxic.
  • Macadamia nuts – can cause severe abdominal pain, inability to walk and increased heart rate.
  • Onion – can cause red blood cells to burst, leading to anaemia.
  • Paracetamol – can be fatal to pets, especially cats. A warning sign is grey-blue hums and salivation.
  • Fatty foods -fatty foods like barbeque scraps, turkey skin or pork crackling can lead to more serious pancreatitis. Major signs of pancreatitis are lethargy, poor appetite, abdominal pain, vomiting and fever.
  • Xylitol – this is a common ingredient in sugarless gum and is poisonous to dogs, causing lethargy, liver failure, seizures, vomiting and weakness

If you are concerned that your pet has eaten any of the above items, owners are advised to get them veterinary treatment as soon as possible.

And so what should Canberra dog lovers give their pets as a Christmas treat?

“Go to the pet store and get something specifically made for your dog and their specific breed or size,” advises Dr Archinal.


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