Holiday Food: 5 Things to Keep Away from Your Pets

gingerbreadLet’s be honest: one of the best things about the holiday season is the food. The ham or turkey, the homemade side dishes, the rich desserts…it’s all wonderful! Well, all that yummy food seems pretty wonderful to your pets too. With the decadent treats and busy households, it can be easy for your furry family members to sneak a bite (or two, or three…).

Depending on what they get their paws on, pets can end up with an upset stomach, intestinal blockage, or even worse. As you prepare to celebrate Christmas in the coming days, keep these points in mind to ensure your dog or cat has an enjoyable holiday too.

1. Watch out for fats. If we eat too much fatty food, we might not feel too comfortable for a few hours. For pets, however, eating fatty food can be life-threatening. They aren’t able to easily digest fatty foods, which can result in the development of pancreatitis. Pancreatitis involves inflammation of the pancreas, and it can cause symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, pain in their tummies, loss of appetite, lethargy, and abnormal body temperature. If you suspect your pet is dealing with this, take him to the vet as soon as possible. Pancreatitis can be deadly.

2. Keep those sweet treats away. Cakes, pies, cookies…there is usually an endless supply of goodies available this time of year. Most people know that chocolate is dangerous for animals, but you’ll also want to watch out for artificial sweeteners. One in particular, called xylitol, can be life-threatening for both cats and dogs if ingested.

3. With a knick knack, paddy whack don’t give a dog a bone. Dogs love to gnaw on bones, so it’s tempting to give them a Christmas treat like a turkey bone. Resist your pet’s begging in this case. A bone could, for instance, cause a blockage in the intestines. Symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhea, and weakness. Generally, an intestinal obstruction means a trip to the vet for surgery–not exactly how you or your pet wants to spend Christmas Day.

4. Avoid alliums. Plants in the allium group are very tasty; we use them to season meat, stuffing, potatoes, and other side dishes. So, what are they? These plants include onions, shallots, chives, scallions, garlic, and leeks. If your pet ingests too much of these, it can cause all sorts of chaos in their bodies — including organ damage or death.

5. Be careful where you put those holiday drinks. It should be obvious that giving pets alcohol is a really bad idea, but accidents happen — especially when your Christmas punch or holiday cocktail is in reach of determined paws. Those fruity drinks can smell appealing to pets, and if you’re busy with guests or you’ve fallen into a food coma, your pet might be able to take advantage of your unwatchful eyes. Ingesting alcohol can make your animals quite ill and even lead to coma or death.

This is not an exhaustive list of holiday safety precautions for pets, but these five things are definitely important to think about while you’re celebrating!

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