Holiday Food Safety Tips for Pets

The holidays are a wonderful time for family and friends to get together and celebrate, and most celebrations include a wide variety of delicious, mouth-watering food and drink. While pets are often included in the celebrations (I know mine are), be careful how you celebrate with them, and keep in mind that cats and dogs have much more sensitive bodies than humans and the simple foods we eat during the holidays can cause severe and sometimes life-threatening side effects. Below is a list of foods to avoid giving Fido and Whiskers this holiday season to keep them healthy and out of the animal hospital. Here are some holiday food safety tips for your pets: 


  • Turkey/ham bones/corn on the cob 

  • Bones of any type and corn cobs are difficult for animals to fully digest and can cause a blockage in the stomach or intestines that may need to be surgically removed. Bones can also be chewed into smaller pieces that can be sharp and cause punctures in the stomach or intestines. 
  • Turkey skin, drippings, gravy, fat trimmings, stuffing, and fatty foods


      • Dogs and cats have much more sensitive stomachs than we do. Fatty foods and grease can cause inflammation of the stomach, intestines, and pancreas, causing symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, abdominal pain, dehydration and fever. 


  • Raisins and grapes

  • Raisins and grapes are often found in many baked goods, fruit salads and other goodies. Ingestion of just a few of these can cause acute kidney failure in dogs. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, decreased urination, lethargy, weakness, abdominal pain, and a wobbly, drunken walk.
  • Onion and garlic, leeks, scallions, shallots, chives

  • These foods are often found in many side dishes served at the holidays. They can cause anemia, or red blood cell damage, symptoms of which are pale gums, weakness, lethargy, discolored urine, vomiting or diarrhea. 
  • Macadamia nuts

  • These nuts can affect the central nervous system and cause weakness, especially of the hind legs, depression, drunken walking, vomiting, abdominal pain, and tremors.
  • Chocolate

  • Chocolate is one of the most common toxicities we see in our furry friends. The active ingredients theobromine and caffeine can cause vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, agitation, tremors, seizures and possibly death if enough is ingested. 
  • Bread dough

  •  This may sound like an odd food to be wary of, however, the yeast in the dough can expand in the stomach and cause obstruction of the stomach or intestines, torsion of the stomach, vomiting, coma, seizures and even death. 
  • Alcohol

  • Egg nog and spirits can make the holidays jolly, but don’t give your pet any of these beverages. They can cause excitability, vomiting, lethargy, drunken walking, disorientation and vocalization.
  • Batteries

  • During the holidays, they may present need batteries. Make sure to pick them up to prevent your dog and cat from ingesting them because they can cause ulceration of the esophagus and stomach, along with vomiting.
  • Xylitol

  • This is a sugar substitute used in cooking and baking. If ingested by dogs, it can cause a very low blood sugar, symptoms of which are a weakness, tremors, drunken walking, collapse, seizures, and diarrhea. 


If you know your furry friends have ingested anything on this list or anything you are concerned about, be sure to call your veterinarian right away. Also, keep this number on the fridge in case of ingestion of any concerning substances: ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Phone Number: (888) 426-4435. Happy Holidays from all of us at Fairgrounds Animal Hospital.