Twix-Mas: why your seasonal leftovers could be making your pets ill

A new study of UK dog-owners has revealed that the nation’s pooches are currently being overfed on salty and fattening HUMAN food which is poor for their health.

And as well as a third being fed festive tit bits and leftovers, a staggering 47 percent of dog-owners admit they like to give their pooch leftovers from their takeaways.

The study, by ACANA, found that one in ten (nine percent) are allowed to polish off puddings, with over half (52 percent) of owners believing their dog prefers human food to their own.

But experts warn that many of these meals, especially around Christmas are at odds with the varied, nutrient-dense meals pups should be enjoying.

TV Vet and animal welfare campaigner Dr Marc Abraham OBE says: “We can all get a bit greedy over Christmas, and whilst we have good intentions, traditional festive fare such as mince pies, raisins, turkey stuffing, and Christmas pudding can actually make your pet seriously ill if consumed, or worse still they can prove fatal.

“Owners need to be vigilant throughout the festive period, especially as pets can easily sniff out any presents under the tree which contain dangerous food, such as chocolate. Furthermore, if you suspect your pet has swallowed something he or she shouldn’t have, then please call your vet immediately, whatever the time of day or night.

“It’s also important to politely ask any visiting guests, including children, to refrain from feeding your pets anything at all! Extra food, such as leftovers or treats, offered to your pet by anyone other than yourself, can increase the chances of painful pancreatitis, vomiting and diarrhoea, and even a trip to the emergency vet; enough to ruin yours, your guests’, and your pet’s Christmas fun too”.

The study of 1,500 dog owners also found that the average UK pup will eat the equivalent of four portions of cake and four slices of toast each month.

And they also gobble up four chunks of cheese, four spoons of bolognese sauce, four bites of cheese toastie, and three fish fingers during the average month.

The average mutt will also scoff three slices of pizza and three rashers of bacon on a monthly basis.

Other human food favourites according to the data, are chicken nuggets, with dogs eating three a month on average, sausages, also enjoyed three times a month, and even steak, with British pooches enjoying at least two scraps of the finest fillet or T-bone each month.

So, it’s no surprise that two in five British dog owners (40 percent) admit they regularly feed their dog human food rather than pet food – and shockingly almost a fifth (19 percent) have no idea about the potential health risks.

And 61 percent don’t always know what they should be feeding their dog for the best health benefits – while almost half (47 percent) are unsure about the best ingredients to look out for when they do purchase dog food.

In fact, one in twenty (six percent) admit they don’t have a clue what they should and shouldn’t be feeding their hounds.

To help raise awareness of the issue, actress, presenter and pet-parent to Lola and Bess, Joanna Page, has teamed up with ACANA to share her experiences:

“The pester power of my pups is quite something – they probably get their way more than anyone in the house! We’ve long been in the habit of giving them leftovers which we know aren’t harmful to them, but that adds up a lot over a year and isn’t good for their diet. We have a very busy household and Lola and Bess are clever, they know they can rotate between us to sneak leftovers without anyone knowing what they’ve already had.”

The research also found almost a quarter (24 percent) of the dog owners polled confess that if they enjoy a naughty late-night snack, they’ll share it with their pooch.

16 percent admit that feeding their dog scraps of human food has definitely led to them putting on weight – while a further 34 percent say that giving their dog leftovers has played some part in their pooch piling on the pounds.

Over half of the UK’s dog owners (57 percent) say they love to treat their furry friend to human food because they think they love it, while three in ten admit they hate throwing away leftover food.

The research also found that 23 percent even feel GUILTY if they don’t share some of their food with their pup.

However, instead of feeding our nation’s dogs scraps and leftovers, pet parents should provide their pooch with a balanced and complete diet full of fresh meats and a limited amount of fruit and vegetables. ACANA premium pet food mirrors the richness, freshness and variety of whole animal ingredients which allow pups to thrive.