The Naughty List: Ten Foods Your Pet Should Avoid During The Holidays

Nothing brings people (and their pets) together more than a home-cooked meal. As friends and families gather to celebrate the holidays, food is often a key ingredient. These festivities can leave kitchen countertops covered with flavorful
dishes and desserts. While indulging may cause dietary consequences for us humans, some of these goodies can be disastrous if consumed by pets.

It is important to avoid sharing any food from the kitchen or dinner table with your pets. While the occasional nibble of pie may not be a problem, certain food ingredients can be very dangerous for animals.

Below is a naughty list of ten foods to keep far away from your pets this holiday season.

  1. Onions. When pets consume onions, it can cause hemolytic anemia – a condition that destroys the red blood cells. This makes it difficult for oxygen and nutrients to reach the vital cells in an animal.
  2. Uncooked meats. Just as with humans, when animals eat uncooked meats, such as chicken, turkey or beef, there is a significant risk of E. coli and Salmonella infections and toxicity. These mean bacterial infections can cause vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and kidney or liver damage. Ingestion of E. coli and Salmonella can also result in sepsis; an infection can cause death in cats and dogs.
  3. Raisins and grapes. Although these adorable little treats may seem harmless, when consumed by your pets, they can cause severe kidney damage.
  4. Seasoning packets. Watch all countertops and trash to ensure your pets have access to seasoning packets used for food. Consuming these seasoning can cause severe gastrointestinal issues, salt poisoning and electrolyte abnormalities due to the high concentration of sodium.
  5. Dough. Swallowing raw bread or dough can cause severe bloating and havoc on your pet’s digestive tract. Dough consumption can also result in the twisting your pet’s stomach, requiring immediate medical attention.
  6. Gravy and drippings. Anything form of animal meat, fat or skin should not be shared with your pet. Gravy and drippings are usually high in fat content and can cause the pancreas (the organ responsible for digesting fat and protein) to become over worked and inflamed. This hyperactivity can result in severe vomiting, diarrhea and pain in animals.
  7. Cooked bones. It is critical to keep your animals away from any type of cooked bones, particularly poultry bones. These bones can easily splinter and become lodged in the mouth, throat or digestive tract in dogs and cats.
  8. Corncobs. This seasonal favorite is a common culprit for holiday emergency vet visits. The pesky cobs are easily caught in the gastrointestinal tract and surgery is typically required to remove them.
  9. Whole nuts. Any nuts with a shell present a significant choking hazard. These nuts can quickly become an obstruction in the gut, especially for smaller dogs.
  10. Chocolate. This is one of the most commonly ingested toxins during the holidays. The damage that chocolate consumption can cause is determined by two factors: toxicity (the darker the chocolate the more toxic it is), and the ratio of your pet’s body mass to how much they ate (what is not an alarming amount for a big dog could be disastrous for a smaller breed). If your dog has ingested any amount of chocolate, you should call your veterinarian immediately to determine the best course of action.

This list of naughty foods for your dogs and cats is worth checking twice! Avoiding these foods will help to make the holidays happier for you and your pets. Since there is always a level of risk when feeding pets “human food”, it’s best to simply buy your pet some special animal treats of their own. Bon Appetite & Happy Holidays!

Originally published December 2016 in the Lake Norman Citizen.

Dr. Gretchen Burke is a veterinarian with LakeCross Veterinary in Huntersville. The vets in the big yellow house have been treating pets like family for 20 years. For more information, call 704-948-6300.