Delicious But Safe? Holiday Food Safety for Pets
The holidays are here, and for many of us, that means cozying up in the kitchen with our favorite recipes to share. Holiday tables and meals often mean family, and with 70% of pet owners considering pets a part of the family, sharing our favorite foods with them is the next logical step. But it this safe?
We’re all human, and it’s tough to resist those puppy dog eyes, but some traditional fare can pose serious risks to your pet’s health. Aside from adding a lot of calories and fat to your pet’s diet, over indulgence in high fat foods can trigger a condition called pancreatitis, which is painful and potentially life threatening.
Before you pull up a chair for your pet at the table, let’s explore holiday food safety for pets, and give you some pet friendly choices that you can feel good about.
Holiday Food Safety for Pets
When it comes to holiday food safety for pets, there are a few basics to keep in mind. Here are some tips:
Keep portions small – if you do give a little bit of food to your pet, keep portions small and limit your choices to one or two pet-safe foods (carrots and green beans, for example).
Protect the garbage – it may sound funny, but eliminating access to the garbage and countertop temptations is one of the best ways to prevent an emergency room visit for your pet during the holidays.
Watch ingredients – it’s important to be aware of certain toxic ingredients that may be in your holiday dishes. Onions and garlic are commonly used in many meals and are one example of toxic foods for pets.
Holiday Foods for Pets to Avoid
In addition to table scraps and garbage, make sure to steer your pet clear of the following.
Chocolate – chocolate is toxic to dogs in particular, and can cause internal bleeding, liver failure, and even death. The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is for pets.
Alcohol – beer, wine, and alcohol can be problematic for dogs and cats and can cause GI upset as well as brain and liver damage.
Bones – many people think bones are healthy to give, but in reality bones can splinter and cause internal bleeding. They also commonly get stuck in the digestive tract, requiring surgical intervention to remove a foreign body obstruction.
Garlic, onion, and chives – these members of the Allum family in any form – fresh, dried, and powdered – can cause red blood cell damage and anemia, especially in cats.
Yeasted bread dough – raw bread dough can expand in your pet’s stomach, causing a life threatening situation. Keep this well protected and out of reach at all times.
Grapes and raisins – even small amounts of these can make your pet sick; larger amounts can cause kidney failure.
Sugar free candy and baked goods – a sugar substitute called Xylitol, commonly found in sugar free foods and personal care products, is extremely toxic to dogs. It can be life threatening, so even a small amount eaten constitutes a trip to the vet.
Aluminum foil and food wrappers – unfortunately, food is not the only thing that pets consume at holiday time! All those delicious smelling wrappers and papers can also go down, causing intestinal upset and even a blockage requiring surgery to remove.
Holiday Pet Food Wrap Up
At holiday time and any time of year, we encourage you to find ways other than food to treat your pet and show them your love. What about a holiday hike, a ball toss in the yard, or an extra brushing session? Showing our pets we love them is definitely a win-win, and having a happy, healthy pet is something to be thankful for. Give Blue Valley Animal Hospital a call if you need more ideas, or if you have specific questions. Happy Holidays!