Just Say No: Keeping Pets Away from Holiday Food

wNatick_iStock_000064910983_Large.jpgHoliday food is meant to be shared with family and friends, and many of us consider our pets bonafide members of our families. However, most of the rich foods we typically enjoy during the holiday season should be strictly off-limits for our furry friends.

Holiday Foods to Avoid

Nothing ruins a holiday celebration quicker than a pet suffering from gastrointestinal distress, or worse, a full-fledged pet emergency. To keep your days merry and bright, protect your cat and dog from the following foods this holiday season:

Bones – Chicken, duck, and turkey bones can easily splinter causing intestinal blockages or injury to the mouth, throat, and stomach.

Chocolate – By now, most of us know that chocolate is bad for dogs, but it still bears repeating as this popular holiday treat can cause a variety of problems from vomiting to seizures. The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is for your pet.

Xylitol – This artificial sweetener found in sugar-free gum, candy, baked goods, and other hygiene products is extremely toxic to pets. If consumed, Xylitol causes a rapid drop in blood sugar that can lead to disorientation, seizures, and liver failure.

Alcohol – Many animals enjoy the taste of alcohol, but even small amounts can damage a pet’s liver and brain.

Fatty foods – Turkey skin, fat trimmings, and gravy are irresistible but dangerous to pets. Too much fat can cause severe gastrointestinal distress, or worse, pancreatitis.

Bread dough – The yeast in raw bread dough is what makes it dangerous to your pet. If ingested, the warm temperatures in your pet’s stomach can cause the dough to rise, which could lead to potentially life-threatening bloat.

Nuts – For up to 12 hours after ingestion, walnuts and macadamia nuts can cause symptoms such as tremors, fever, and difficulty standing.

Raisins and grapes – Even in small amounts, grapes and raisins can cause stomach upset in dogs; larger amounts may lead to kidney failure.

Foil, wrappers, skewers, and toothpicks – Thanks to the abundance of food this time of year, these items are often left around and chewed on or swallowed by pets, causing severe damage to the esophagus or intestines.

Keeping Your Pet Safe

Observe the following pet safety tips this holiday season:

  • Keep food and garbage cans covered
  • Clean up any spills right away
  • Don’t feed your pet table scraps (and make sure your guests don’t either!)
  • To avoid temptation, secure your pet in a separate room during mealtimes

Since those puppy dog eyes can be hard to resist (especially during the holidays) come up with creative ways for your pet to celebrate safely. Nylabones and other safe chew bones can help satisfy your pet’s urge to chomp while the rest of the family eats. Stuffing your pet’s dinner into a Kong toy or food puzzle will keep them busy during mealtimes. And don’t forget, it’s okay to add a little lean turkey or cooked veggies to your pet’s kibble every once in awhile!

From all of us at Wellesley-Natick Veterinary Hospital, we wish you, your pet, and your family a Happy Holiday!