Christmas becomes a lot less fun when Fido vomits all over the living room floor or bites your Aunt Sally – take these precautions to ensure your pets are as jolly as Santa this festive season.

Even the most social and friendly pet can be overwhelmed during the noise and chaos of the Christmas holiday season, especially if you have lots of people over for a Christmas or New Year’s gathering. And with so much food being passed around, it’s important to remember not to give in to those pleading puppy eyes – it’s for their own good, since just 50g of chocolate can be deadly for a dog or any pet for that matter.

“The problem is that the systems of pets, be it cats and dogs cannot tolerate theobromine, one of key ingredients of chocolate,” says RSPCA Queensland’s Senior Veterinarian Dr Anne Chester. “Theobromine can cause a range of problems in domestic animals because it triggers the release of adrenaline, which can lead to a greatly accelerated heart rate and an irregular heartbeat. 

“A pet can vomit, suffer diarrhoea and excessive urination and become hyperactive. This can be followed by depression, coma, seizures and death.”

Beware cooked bones – quite brittle, they can splinter and lodge in the throat or pierce the stomach lining, and don’t slip Spot that slice of pizza since onions can be just as toxic as chocolate.

“People often give their family pet the barbeque left-overs and more often than not there are onions mixed in with the meat,” says Dr Chester. “For some dogs this can be a fatal oversight.”

But falling ill is not the only pet danger this festive season – dogs can become stressed during festivities so it’s important to consider this over the holiday period too.

RSPCA Queensland’s Michael Beatty has provided some tips to keep your dog safe this silly season:

1. Create a safe space

If you think your dog may be overwhelmed with lots of new people, put him away from all the action in another room, with a yummy chew or filled Kong – especially during the more hectic times such as people arriving and leaving. Crates can be great in this situation! Play some music in the area or leave the TV on to help mask the sounds of activity going on elsewhere. Even the most social of dogs will need a break from the activity, so make sure you have a suitable area or a crate the dog can chill out in.

2. Supervision is key

Assign an adult (not involved in supervising children) to be in charge of your dog if you can’t be – being sure they look out for signs of stress and protect your dog from any unwanted attention.

3. Don’t pucker up with your pooch

Do not allow children to hug or kiss your dog. Dogs do not like hugs and kisses! Even a dog who tolerates this under normal circumstances may not tolerate this from strangers in a high stress situation with lots of noise and people.

4. Watch for danger signs

If your dog licks his lips, shows the whites of his eyes or turns his head away when a child or adult is patting him, intervene immediately. These are just a few signals dogs show when they are stressed. Other signs that your dog does not welcome attention from children or adults include:

  • The dog tries to walk away or tries to hide under furniture.
  • The dog freezes and becomes very still with his mouth closed. He may be staring intently at the person bothering him and may growl.
  • The dog growls or raises fur along his back.

For more information contact the Animal Training and Behaviour Centre  on 3426 9928 or email

Keep your pooch happy and safe this festive season! Have any funny pet stories from past Christmases? Let us know!