Food and drinks are half the fun around the holidays! And it can be tough to say no when your adorable Afghan Hound, Farah, is begging for food beside the table. Occasionally allowing your pup to partake of certain food items is acceptable, although there are a few that you'll want to make sure you and your holiday house guests keep to to yourselves.
I'm sure at least a few of these goodies will seem like obvious things to be on this list, but you can never be too careful and I'd rather include them than not, just in case!
Alcohol. Its even more toxic to pets than it is to people. Combine their smaller size and lack of tolerance, and sharing your adult beverage could land your furry friend an emergency visit to the vet. If ingestion occurs, the most common signs that your pet is in trouble are staggering and decreased reflexes, followed by a slowing respiratory rate. These symptoms could very well precede cardiac arrest, and death. The best way to protect your pets is for you and your guests to keep your drinks well out of the reach of curious noses.
Chocolate. It contains caffeine and theobromine, both of which are toxic to dogs and cats. Different forms of chocolate contain more or less of these substances, with dry cocoa powder having the most and white chocolate having the least. Dogs and cats have excellent noses, so it’s easy for them to sniff out your hiding spots. Be sure to keep your chocolate in a place safe from pets, such as covered dishes that are out of their reach or in a cabinet.
Nutmeg. This popular spice should never be fed to your pets. Nutmeg has mild hallucinogenic properties and can cause seizures, tremors, and central nervous system problems. In severe cases, shock and even death have been reported. Plain pumpkin and sweet potatoes are good for your pets, so set aside a bit to share with them before adding other ingredients if you'd like to include them in the family feast!
Milk. Because pets do not possess significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk), milk and other dairy products can give them diarrhea or other digestive upset which can lead to dehydration. As a general rule, take care to limit the amount of dairy products your pets eat but avoid milk altogether.
Dough containing yeast. Believe it or not, your pet’s stomach is the perfect environment for bread to rise. Raw dough eaten by your pet can expand inside his stomach and result in vomiting, severe abdominal pain, and bloating. When preparing dinner rolls or desserts, make sure your pet doesn’t taste-test the goodies before they’re finished.
Raisins and grapes. In 1989, a computerized toxicity database helped veterinarians identify grapes and raisins as the cause of sudden kidney failure in dogs. Ingesting just small amounts have often proven to be fatal for both cats and dogs. Vomiting and hyperactive behavior are the initial signs of poisoning. Diarrhea can occur, and after 24 hours, the pet may become anorexic and lethargic. Ultimately, the kidneys can fail. It’s important to keep any desserts, dressing, breads, or fruit baskets that contain raisins or grapes well away from your cat and dog.
Nuts. Macadamia nuts and pistachios are very rich in fat and can cause a very painful illness known as pancreatitis, which also leads to vomiting, diarrhea, and weakness. In addition, macadamia nuts reportedly contain an unknown toxin that might result in neurological symptoms. Pets have difficulty digesting almonds, walnuts, and pecans, and these nuts are large enough to cause an intestinal obstruction potentially resulting in the need for surgical intervention.
Onions. They contain thiosulphate, which causes red blood cells to burst in cats and dogs and can lead to hemolytic anemia. Onions present the highest risk of toxicity - eating a very small amount can have severe affects. Symptoms to watch for include shortness of breath, lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea.
Turkey skin. Many holiday foods, like turkey skin and gravy, are high in fat and difficult for pets to digest. These types of foods can cause pancreatitis (mentioned above), which also leads to vomiting, diarrhea, and weakness.
Poultry bones. The cooking process causes poultry bones to dehydrate and become very brittle. If your pet eats them, they can splinter and puncture the stomach or intestines. To prevent accidents and eliminate the temptation for counter-surfing, dispose of the bones immediately once you're finished with them.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but hopefully knowing these things outlined above will help you take proper precautions to prevent injury to your beloved pets. But sometimes accidents happen! If your pet ingests any of the above, or you suspect they may have, don't hesitate to contact us, your normal veterinarian, or your local emergency veterinarian.
This blog post appeared in a slightly different variation as an older post on our site.