It’s only natural to want to share the festive season with your furry friends — but treating them to a slap-up Christmas lunch could be deadly.

The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) has warned that animal lovers need to careful about the food their pets get their paws on this Christmas.

“Vets treat many pets with digestive problems during the summer break,” says Dr David Neck from the AVA. “Pet owners need to be aware that there are some foods that we indulge in over the Christmas period that are just not good for our cats and dogs.

“And of course pets have a way of finding unattended party food without any help from us, so keep an eye on what food you leave within muzzle-reach!”

Here are the Christmas treats your pets should avoid:

  • Chocolate is toxic to dogs and cats, even in small quantities.
  • Nutmeg is one of the lesser known dangers. It can cause dogs to suffer tremors, seizures and issues with their nervous system, and can even kill them.
  • Avocadoes contain a dangerous toxin that can damage the heart, lungs and tissues of many types of animals.
  • Turkey skin, pork crackling, sausages and fatty meats can lead to inflammation of the pancreas due to the high fat content.
  • Onions and garlic can cause gastric irritation and anaemia if they are consumed in large quantities.
  • Grapes and raisins can cause acute kidney failure.
  • Macadamia nuts can be toxic to dogs. Symptoms will likely occur within 12 hours and can include vomiting, hypothermia and elevated heart rate.
  • Xylitol might not sound familiar, but it’s an artificial sweetener that’s widely used in sugar-free foods like cakes, muffins and bread, and can be deadly for animals.

So what can you feed your pet? Dr Neck says it’s best to stick with the old favourites and the brands you trust.

“The best treat you can give your pet over Christmas is quality pet treats from your vet clinic, pet store or supermarket that contain the right nutrients to keep them healthy,” he says.

If you suspect your pet has eaten something toxic, you should contact your vet immediately.