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Christmas is a time of eating, drinking, and making merry. With all the food around, it can be a little tempting for dogs. Dogs can eat some people food with little to no problem. What you should do if your dog ate Santa’s cookies could be slightly more complicated, depending on what the cookies are made of.
Santa’s cookies aren’t the only risk at holiday time, however. Guests who set their plates down or drop things could lead to an unwanted dog snack. Anytime you walk away from your table setting or something you’re prepping for the meal, you’re providing an opportunity for your dog to sneak. Some of the decorations you put around the house can also tempt a dog to take a bite.
These things do happen from time to time in spite of your best intentions. I’m here to tell you what to do when your dog eats Santa’s cookies, or anything else he shouldn’t!
First we’ll go general.
- Common Signs Your Dog Ate Something Bad
- Common Ways To Treat Stomach Problems In Your Dog
- What To Do If Your Dog Eats Chocolate
- Why Is Chocolate is Toxic For Dogs
- Symptoms Of Dog Eating Chocolate
- Other Cookies And Dogs
- What If My Dog Ate Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
- Can Dogs Eat Macadamia Nut Cookies?
- Can Santa Eat Dog Cookies?
- Other Holiday Dangers For Dogs
- Your Plan For Holiday Safety
- After It’s All Over
Common Signs Your Dog Ate Something Bad
Every adverse reaction a dog has to eating something he shouldn’t will be a little different. There are, however, some signs you can look for that will help you assess the situation. These are general symptoms that can alert you to the need to reach out to your veterinarian.
Any of the following symptoms your dog exhibits may mean he ate something that isn’t good for him:
- Vomiting, dry heaving, or gagging
- Abdominal pain
- Loss of interest in food and appetite
- Lethargy or sluggishness
- Changes in the usual behavior you see in your dog
- Changes in bowel movements to either constipation or diarrhea
- Trouble breathing
- Light sensitivity
- Loss of coordination or tremors
- Loss of consciousness
If you see any of these signs in your dog, I advise that you call your vet immediately. None of the advice in this article is meant to supersede or replace a conversation or appointment with your vet.
It’s a good idea to remember to pay attention to your dog even during the busy holidays when company is in and out. If you’re watching closely, you’ll see these symptoms when they first start and treatment will be easier.
Your vet will more than likely recommend one of the courses of treatment detailed below in the following section.
Common Ways To Treat Stomach Problems In Your Dog
Sometimes even well-behaved dogs do the wrong thing and even well-meaning owners sometimes get distracted. If your dog eats Santa’s cookies or any other dangerous holiday item, your vet is likely to recommend some of the following treatments.
When you call your vet, they may advise you to induce vomiting or to feed your dog activated charcoal. Follow any advice your vet gives you. In fact, it’s a great idea to keep some activated charcoal on hand just in case of emergencies.
Binds unwanted materials and gas in the digestive tract. Activated Charcoal contains many small chambers and cavities that "capture" or bind-up unwanted materials and gas.
If you need to induce vomiting, mix 1 to 2 teaspoons per 10 pounds of your dog’s weight of 3% hydrogen peroxide. With a squeeze bottle, it’s easy to administer. Your pet will probably vomit right away, but if they don’t, you can repeat this process in 15 minutes. Never do this unless your vet instructs you to!
In fact, once you have your vet on the phone, get their recipe for the proper dosage of peroxide. This way you get an informed opinion and your vet will know in detail about any action you take before you arrive at their office.
Once you get to the office, your vet will perform a physical exam and take x-rays. This will help your vet determine if your dog can pass a foreign object without intervention, or if more serious treatment is needed.
At some point during the exam, you and your vet will come to a conclusion about what kind of object or food your dog ate. You may already know this when you enter the vet’s office, or your vet may deduce this from the physical exam and/or x-rays. Try to list things your dog was exposed to so your vet has a place to start from.
Surprisingly, a dog can pass all manner of strange objects just by adding some fiber to the dog’s diet. In other cases, something as seemingly simple as a ball of hair can cause problems. This is why a vet trip is so important. Sharp objects are of particular concern, but can still pass through a dog without surgical intervention in some cases.
If your dog ate poison or a toxic substance, your vet may resort to gastric flushing with anesthetic.
In the case of Santa’s cookies, some recipes will be more harmful than others. Let me explain some of the most dangerous cookie ingredients your dog could be exposed to this holiday season. I’ll zero in on some specific foods your dog shouldn’t eat and what to do if they consume some.
What To Do If Your Dog Eats Chocolate
Most dog owners already know that chocolate is a real no-no for dogs. Even a small amount can be dangerously toxic to some dogs and even fatal.
If you suspect that your dog has eaten something with chocolate in it, you need to know what signs to specifically look for. Situations where your dog ate chocolate chip cookies for Santa or your dog ate brownies, you should take action right away.
Why Is Chocolate is Toxic For Dogs
The theobromine and caffeine in chocolate both have negative effects on dogs. Caffeine and theobromine speed up dogs’ heart rate and nervous system. How risky this is variable, based on the size and weight of your dog and the type of chocolate your dog ingested. Use this tool to calculate your dog’s risk of chocolate toxicity.
As a quick reference, the following types of chocolate are ranked from highest amount to lowest amount of theobromine content:
- Cocoa powder
- Baker’s chocolate
- Semisweet chocolate
- Dark chocolate
- Milk chocolate
- White chocolate
I have to admit, this was news to me as well. Until I researched this topic, I believed dark chocolate was the most harmful for dogs. Conversely, its cocoa powder.
Symptoms Of Dog Eating Chocolate
If your dog eats chocolate, you’ll see signs of toxicity between 6 to 12 hours after ingestion. These symptoms can last 72 hours.
- Increased urination
- Elevated or abnormal heart rate
- Collapse and death
You must call the vet right away and explain as much as you can about the incident. What chocolate did your dog eat? Do you know how much chocolate your dog ate? How long ago did your dog eat the chocolate?
If your vet recommends immediate treatment, it is likely they’ll instruct you to give your dog activated charcoal at 10 times amount of poison ingested. This is a common treatment for chocolate poisoning in dogs.
If your dog is admitted into the vet’s office, the vet may provide further medications and IV fluids to help your dog overcome chocolate toxicity.
So, chocolate is probably the most known material that’s toxic to dogs. What about other cookies you left out for Santa? I happen to know that Santa likes to eat many different types of cookies at houses all over the world.
It keeps that figure of his in top shape to shake when he laughs, like a bowl full of jelly.
Sugar cookies aren’t good for dogs, but they aren’t inherently toxic either. Dogs don’t digest sugar or simple carbs particularly well. They definitely don’t need the fat hiding in sugar cookies. That being said, all of the ingredients are generally dog safe.
If your dog eats Santa’s sugar cookies, encourage him to drink lots of water and provide meals as you normally would. Keep a close eye on your dog to look for signs of allergic reaction or any serious digestive upset.
You’ll probably be completely fine. You can call your vet to report the incident to be on the safe side, but you don’t need to panic.
Your dog could experience runny stools, stomach pain, or constipation. Monitor these conditions to make sure they aren’t getting worse.
This is an interesting one, because on the surface it can seem like oatmeal cookies are healthier than some other cookies. Did you know that raisins are very toxic to dogs? Dogs who eat raisins even in small amounts can suffer kidney damage and failure.
The exact substance in both grapes and raisins that makes dogs sick is unknown. Be that as it may, dogs who eat raisins will exhibit the following symptoms:
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea that may contain pieces of rains.
- Refusal to eat or disinterest in food
- Lethargy, weakness, and appearing ‘out of it’
- Abdominal discomfort or bloating
- Oliguria (passing very small amounts of urine)
- Anuria (not urinating)
- Foul breath beyond the usual doggie aroma
- Oral ulcers in and around the mouth
- Seizures; or
Call your vet right away. Your vet may encourage you to induce vomiting provided your dog isn’t having a seizure or breathing problems. By the way, you should never induce vomiting in any dog experiencing tremors or difficulty breathing because it can be dangerous.
If you’re living with a dog and leaving cookies out for Santa, make sure your dog can’t reach the cookies or skip the raisins.
Like sugar cookies, most nuts are not inherently toxic to dogs unless eaten in massive amounts. They do sometimes cause digestive problems or pose a choking hazard. They’re also high in fat, which we know isn’t good for dogs.
Macadamia nuts in particular are toxic for dogs. Like with raisins, the actual substance in macadamia nuts that is toxic for dogs is unknown. It shouldn’t be fatal, but it is serious.
Symptoms of Macadamia Toxicity In Dogs
The following symptoms will result within 12 hours of ingestion:
- Weakness and tremors
- Depression and lethargy
Luckily, most dogs recover within two days. Vets may suggest that you feed your dog activated charcoal for this problem, just like they will if your dog eats chocolate.
Obviously, the best thing to do is keep the macadamia nuts out of your Christmas cookies or make sure your dog can’t gain access to them.
Here’s a question you may not have asked yourself. What about feeding Santa some doggie cookies?
If you’re childless, you could make dog cookies for Santa! Nobody but you will ever know the difference, and you can feed them to your dog on Christmas morning.
Check out my companion article all about dog treat recipes for the holidays for some ideas and instructions. If you make a large enough batch, you can hand some out to all of your friends who have dogs, too.
Other Holiday Dangers For Dogs
Food isn’t the only harmful thing that dogs can eat accidentally during the holidays. Tinsel or ornaments for the tree, wrapping paper, and pieces of toys or small gifts can all end up in the belly of the beast.
Take care to pay attention to your dog’s level of interest in the tree. If you can’t train your dog to reliably leave the tree alone, you can use a puppy pen to close the tree off. You can take it down when you’re home or leave it up all day long.
IRIS 34'' Exercise 8-Panel Pet Playpen with Door, is perfect for puppies, small to large dogs, and other family pets. The IRIS Exercise Pet Playpen can be utilized indoors or outdoors; the pet playpen is portable and provides 21 square feet of exercise space for pets!
If your dog is very social, shutting her in a room while the company is over or during activities like decorating the tree can be a bit depressing. It is still something you should consider if you aren’t able to watch your dog closely during holiday activities.
Dogs that are shy or easily overwhelmed often take to the alone time well. You and your guests can calmly go visit the dog periodically to break up the time your dog spends alone.
If your dog does eat some Christmas object, you’ll have a different kind of problem than if he eats chocolate or raisins. You’ll be watching for a potential bowel obstruction. Symptoms are similar and generally start with vomiting, constipation, and lethargy.
Call your veterinarian to arrange a physical exam and an x-ray before the symptoms progress too far.
Your Plan For Holiday Safety
I have a few thoughts for you on keeping your dog safe during the holidays. Use these suggestions to come up with a plan you can work with:
- Don’t stress if you have to shut your dog away from the festivities. If you can’t keep your dog safe, this is the best solution. You could even ask a family member or friend to dogsit during your party.
- Do bring your dog out to socialize with guests unless she is shy in groups of people. She doesn’t have to be out during the entire party to be a part of the celebration.
- Use puppy pens and gates to section off food-laden areas in your home during holiday entertaining.
- Remind your guests not to feed your dog any treats. It’s well-meaning, but it can get out of control quickly.
- Keep Santa’s cookies high up out of reach for your dog. If your little ones are worried that Santa won’t find them, you can create a fun game of leaving clues or signs that point Santa to the cookies.
- Just go ahead and leave dog-friendly treats for Santa!
- Train your dog to leave the Christmas tree and decorations alone and use a puppy pen if necessary.
- Keep a special eye on children who visit- they love to slip the dog a tasty treat! Explain to them that some people’s food is bad for dogs, and your dog should only ever eat dog food and his own special treats.
After It’s All Over
Don’t let doggie dangers suck all of the fun out of Christmas with your pet! Follow the precautions I’ve discussed here to minimize the chance your dog will have a Christmas issue that requires a costly emergency vet visit.
You don’t want your dog to be a member of the I Ate Santa’s Cookies Club, but if something unfortunate happens at least you know what to expect.
If you do live with a doggie thief, there is a uniform ready and waiting for him via this holiday bandana. It’s an upscale dog shaming. You know my usual drill here: if you get this for your dog, I want the comments section full of photos!
If you haven’t read my recent article about Christmas sweaters and winter coats for dogs, follow the link to wade through the adorable outfits I found to fit your dog. I also explain how to find the right size garment and included a photo roundup of some of the cutest doggie models I could find.
Thanks for spending a little holiday time with me here today and I hope you have a wonderful season with your family and friends; the two and four-legged variety.