A STUDY by Pets at Home reveals that just under a quarter (23%) of pet owners plan to share their Christmas dinner with their cat or dog on Christmas Day, while more than one in 10 (12%) will feed their pets chocolate, mince pies, cake and pudding.

Pets at Home is warning owners to avoid over-indulging their dog and cat, which can lead to serious health problems. Unawareness of portion control, treating too often and even feeding them leftovers is dangerous for their health.

It is not just overfeeding that is the main concern. The research found that 16% of pet owners will not walk their dog on Christmas Day.

Maeve Moorcroft, head of pets at Pets at Home, said: “Pets, like people, need a nutritionally balanced diet, portion control and regular exercise to help them stay healthy. Nutrition is a key factor for pets to lead a healthy lifestyle so human leftovers should be strictly limited.

“Understandably, people want to include their pet in the family fun but feeding scraps from the dinner table can lead to ill-health.

“Chocolate can be extremely dangerous for dogs and cats. Theobromine, a naturally occurring stimulant found in the cocoa bean, affects the central nervous system and heart and, if eaten in sufficient quantity, can be life threatening to dogs and cats.

“Owners should think carefully before placing wrapped chocolate items under the tree. where playful pets may loiter.”

Maeve advises owners who are planning to treat their pet this Christmas to purchase pet-safe chocolate or biscuits, which have been specifically made for animals.