As we all begin to prepare for our festive feasts, a national vet charity is urging pet owners to think twice about offering furry friends Christmas leftovers and excess treats.
With the 2021 PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report revealing that 1.4 million pet owners have fed their four-legged friends more human treats since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the vet charity is warning that this festive season could be more dangerous for our pets than ever before.
PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing said: “Many of us don’t realise how much human food can affect our furry family members. As well as overfeeding causing our four-legged friends to pile on the pounds, in some cases, it can prove fatal.
“Christmas can be a time of indulgence for many of us, and it’s sometimes hard to resist those puppy-dog eyes from our beloved pets. Our 2021 PAW Report found that of the owners who told us that their pets were overweight, 29 per cent admit to giving in when their pet begs for food, and a further 19 per cent claim they love feeding their pets extra treats.
“Though we all want to show our pets how much we love them, excessive amounts of human food can have a huge impact on their weight and wellbeing.
“For a medium-sized dog weighing about 20kg, one serving of turkey (just the breast with no skin) is the calorie equivalent of a human eating a large slice of chocolate cake. Similarly, one small gingerbread man would be the same calories for them as a human eating a large bag of gummy sweets, and just three small cubes of cheese would be the calorie equivalent of us eating an entire bag of crisps.
“With their smaller size, it’s even worse for our feline friends, with one serving of turkey for a puss weighing about 3.5kg being the equivalent calories of us consuming three large milkshakes. Three cubes of cheese equate to a whole double cheeseburger, which would form an entire meal for a human. What’s more, you might think a small serving of gravy couldn’t cause harm, but this is the calorie equivalent of a human eating three scoops of ice-cream.
“There are a number of foods you’ll need to keep away from hungry paws altogether, especially desserts. Mince pies and Christmas cake contain raisins, sultanas and currants, which are highly toxic to pets. Chocolate is also poisonous for dogs and cats, and can even be fatal in some instances.
“As well as desserts, be careful with roast leftovers too. Stuffing and gravy often contain onion, leeks and garlic, which can be deadly to both cats and dogs.
“If you want to give your puss or pooch a Christmas treat, a small slice of skin and bone-free turkey (pick the white meat for them) and boiled vegetables without any sauces shouldn’t cause problems. Be mindful of the portion size and reduce the amount of their normal food you give your pet that day so they are not taking on extra calories.
“Alternatively, treat them to a different flavour from their usual food so they can safely taste something special while getting all the nutrients they need. Or if you know they have a super sensitive tummy, treat them to a new toy as their treat instead.”
For further information about PDSA’s #WeighUp campaign, which is proudly sponsored by Royal Canin, and to download its free guide to help check if your pet is a healthy weight and what to do if not, visit https://pdsa.org.uk/WeighUp.