Be aware that your Christmas food could prove fatal for your family pet

6 top tips to keep your beloved pets safe over Halloween

Pet owners are being reminded that many of the Christmas treats we humans enjoy over Christmas could prove fatal if consumed by the family pet.

Here are some foods which are definite no-nos for family pets:

- chocolate - Chocolate and other caffeinated food and drinks contain a substance called theobromine which is toxic to cats and dogs causing nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, heart problems, muscle tremors and seizures.

- garlic and onions - Raw garlic and onions can cause gastrointestinal problems and anaemia if eaten in large volumes.

- raisins and grapes - both highly toxic for dogs and not easily processed by their digestive system. 

Christmas cake/pudding/mince pies - because of the alcohol and dried fruit this is a definite no no for pets

- Macadamia nuts - as little as a few macadamia nuts can make your pets ill. Symptoms include lethargy, vomiting, hypothermia, muscle tremors and paralysis. Some other types of nuts, including walnuts, can also be toxic to your pets.

- Artificial sweeteners - artificial sweeteners (like Xylitol) should be avoided. Xylitol - found in many baked goods, toothpaste and gum - can be very harmful to cats and dogs. It can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar levels and the onset of hyperglycaemia. The reactions are most severe in cats, but artificial sweeteners can also cause liver failure, seizures, convulsions and death in dogs.

- Dairy products can also prove problematic. Some dogs can eat it without a problem, whereas others experience acute pain and allergic reactions. Cats cannot ingest any dairy as they’re lactose intolerant.

Keep an eye out for signs including vomiting, diarrhoea, drinking excessively, shaking and restlessness. It’s best to contact the vet as soon as you think your pet has eaten something they shouldn’t, rather than waiting for symptoms.

Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.

Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.