With Christmas celebrations now in full swing, I’m sure that many of your readers are rightly allowing themselves a few extra treats and indulgences over the festive period, and many will also be treating their pets to a few extra goodies during this time too.

And, while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with treating yourself over Christmas, I’d like to remind pet owners to be mindful of the health implications that overfeeding can cause and to remember that some human food can cause digestive upset, or even be a serious danger to dogs.

Although it’s tempting to feed our four-legged friends more treats than usual at this time of year, just like we do ourselves, be careful not to go overboard.

Come January, I’ll be hearing from pet owners asking if we changed our formulae, as their dog has been upset over Christmas.

Of course, the problem is usually just overindulgence.

Many of the common issues we see in dogs, like itchy skin, persistent moulting, tear-staining and digestive problems, are tell-tale signs of toxic waste build up in a dog’s body caused by an unsuitable diet and/or overfeeding.

Obesity is one of the biggest health and welfare issues facing our pets and can cause a number of problems in dogs like diabetes, arthritis and joint problems, as well as cutting their lifespan, so it’s important not to forget about portion control during the festive period.

If you’re treating your pet to some leftovers, consider their meals for the rest of the day and try to stick to their normal food quantities for an average day.

The kind of goodies you treat your pets to at Christmas is also an important consideration.

Giving them some small amounts of boneless meat and veggies from your Christmas dinner, such as broccoli, carrots and potatoes, are unlikely to cause harm, but some human foods are simply not safe for dogs to eat.

Chocolate, mince pies, onions, garlic and other bulb vegetables like leeks and shallots are an absolute no-no for dogs, while salty, fatty foods like turkey skin, gravy and pigs in blankets are not recommended as they can cause stomach upset. If you’re unsure about a type of food, be sure to check first.

Of course, enjoy your celebrations with friends, family and pets - just be careful with what and how much you feed your pooches and ensure you keep an eye out for any troublesome symptoms.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas.

John Burns

Veterinary Surgeon and Founder of Burns Pet Nutrition.