Treat your dog for life – not just for Christmas

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Everyone likes a little treat every now and then - and especially now that Christmas is coming. But although it's tempting to give your dog scraps from the table, many popular yuletide treats can actually be dangerous for his health. Whilst just one leftover slice of turkey may not seem excessive, for a dog this could actually be equivalent to a human eating seven slices!

Treat or not to treat?

Some dogs are very good at begging for food and acting like they've not been fed for days! But all they often want is just your attention, not a portion of your festive dish. So try to play or go for a walk with your dog rather than sharing your meal. Feeding your dog table scraps not only encourages bad habits - and having your dog on the table, especially when you've got visitors can be very off-putting, but feeding human foods in general can have an adverse effect on your dog's health. So don't be afraid to ask well-meaning guests not to feed from the table or to give your dog the wrong kind of treats.

Watch out for chocolate!

Allowing your dog eat some human treats can upset his digestive system. The best example is chocolate which is by far the most common foodstuff to cause toxic effects in dogs. The Veterinary Poisons Information Service receives hundreds of calls about chocolate poisoning every year. It is very difficult to determine exactly how much chocolate needs to be eaten by a dog before problems develop, as it depends on the type of chocolate. Good quality chocolate that is high in cocoa solids tends to be the most dangerous to dogs and unsweetened baking chocolate and indeed cocoa powder is also more toxic to dogs than normal milk chocolate. The toxic component in chocolate is theobromine. As theobromine is metabolised slowly, it may be that giving small doses over several days could be as harmful as giving a lot of chocolate all at once.

However, there are other treats that are highly dangerous for dogs' digestion, for example, onions, garlic and certain root vegetables contain substances that can be toxic for dogs and may cause a form of anaemia. And remember, it's not just the raw form of these vegetables you should avoid feeding your dog, because the gravy or sauces that cover a meal may also contain these ingredients. Plus you should watch out for some other treats harmful to dogs' digestion, like grapes and raisins.

The right nutrition in the right amount

Although we are often guilty of over-indulging on rich foods throughout the festive period, our pets should not follow. Overfeeding your dog or treating him with unhealthy snacks over Christmas will make him pile on extra pounds which can result in developing an increased risk of a serious health condition like diabetes, arthritis or heart problems.  

Plus, with so many people around the house, Christmas can actually be quite stressful for dogs. To minimize disruption, stick to his routines as well his precisely balanced nutrition like  Hill's™ Science Plan™ . A Hill's Science Plan kibble is just as much of a treat, and much better for him. You can also reward your dog by varying the food you feed, combining wet and dry food and changing the flavour from time to time. However, do keep to the recommended daily amounts. The Hill's Science Plan range has delicious tasting varieties that are specifically tailored to the individual needs of your dog. And if he doesn't love it, then we'll give you your money back - guaranteed!

So think before you treat. You might allow yourself a mince pie, but don't pass one down to your dog - this will use up over a quarter of his recommended daily calorie intake!

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