Dogs 86% more likely to be poisoned in December

Mince pies, chocolate and Christmas cake are lovely and festive for us humans, but for dogs, they are highly toxic and can prove fatal. Keep all festive treats out of reach of your dog to avoid a very unhappy Christmas.

According to claims data from providers of Kennel Club Pet Insurance, Agria, dogs are an incredible 86% more likely to be poisoned in December than any other month of the year. 

Even the most trustworthy of dogs can't always resist the temptation of food left nearby, and grabbing something they shouldn't can happen in moments. The outcome can range from mild poisoning to renal failure, and even death, so this Christmas, be extra careful.

Three policyholders explain what happened to their dogs last year...


Chocolate can be highly toxic to dogs. And while some dogs are affected by it more than others, if your dog consumes any, it is essential you contact your vet immediately.

Sid's story

Considering chocolate and raisins are two of the most poisonous human food for dogs, Sid chose his snack especially badly...

"Sid, our Whippet, was five last Christmas. A bowl of chocolate raisins had been inadvertently left on a sideboard on Boxing Day and Sid climbed up on a chair and managed to get to them. He ate about a half bowl and, although he did this in secret, luckily we noticed quickly that the bowl was empty. After checking online and seeing how dangerous this was, I spoke to the Vet and I was advised to take him straight in as waiting for symptoms would be too late. Sid was made to be sick and then was put on a drip. He had to stay in at the vet for two days before he was allowed home again. Fortunately, he has suffered no lasting effects and it hasn't stopped him thieving food!" says Joanna, Sid's owner.

Mince pies and Christmas cake

Anything that contains raisins, currants, sultanas or grapes is extremely dangerous to a dog and can rapidly cause kidney failure. If you think your dog has consumed any of these, even a small amount, contact your vet immediately.

Ella's story (Ella is on the right, next to her brother, Chester)

When owner, Mrs Crispino, left her two Cocker Spaniels, Ella and Chester, at home to go out for the evening, she had no idea that one of them would scale the worktop to help themself to a box of six mince pies she had been given as a gift. "I came home at about midnight and luckily saw the foil cases on the floor. Both dogs seemed absolutely fine, but knowing the dangers of mincemeat, I knew they needed to get urgently to the vet. They were both treated for ingesting the mince pies as we didn't know which dog it was, however, by the following evening, Ella had gone into renal failure. We very nearly lost her as she was so badly affected. Fortunately, as we had reacted quickly and she had been receiving treatment for 24 hours, the vet was able to save her. She is fully recovered, but it is safe to say we will not be having any mince pies in the house this Christmas!"

Lexie's story

"On Christmas Day, Lexie - who was three at the time - and I went to meet friends for a walk in the park.  Unknown to me, they had arranged to meet other people there too and had brought Christmas cake to share. Being aware of the risks to dogs, I warned everyone how toxic Christmas cake was for Lexie and asked the group to make sure that no Christmas cake was anywhere within her reach. Just to be safe, I left them to their picnic and went to walk on my own with her. It turned out that Lexie wasn't quite ready to say goodbye, and ran some distance across the park back to our friends.

"She was quicker than me, and got back to the picnic and grabbed and ate a piece of cake before anyone could react. I rushed her to the vets, where she was made to vomit, given activated charcoal to absorb the toxins, and put on a drip for two days. This was such a frightening experience, and could have ended so differently. Thankfully, Lexie has bounced back after her poisoning and we're both hoping for a much happier Christmas this year, " Dr Alison Marriott, Lexie's owner.

If your dog consumes any of the following, you must also contact your vet immediately:

- Alcohol 

- Vape/electronic cigarette refills

- Pieces of toys or other non-food items that could cause an obstruction

Make sure you check your vet’s opening hours over the Christmas period and have the details of their emergency out of hours service to hand. There may be different arrangements over Christmas, so it's really useful to do this so you're prepared, just in case. 

Wishing you, your families and your dogs a very merry Christmas.

If you have an Kennel Club Pet Insurance policy, you can access the free Pet Health Helpline, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The veterinary-trained team will advise on any concerns or queries that you may have over your pet’s health – much like the NHS 111 service for people. Call free on 03333 32 19 47.