Tempted to share your holiday feast with your pet?  It's important to remember what's safe and what should be avoided. Foods to consider sharing should be low fat (no butter or sauces) and unseasoned whole foods. Although anything that your pet is unaccustomed to could cause an upset stomach, safe foods include:

  • Potatoes - baked or steamed sweet potatoes (or white potatoes)
  • Vegetables - steamed or boiled string beans, green peas, broccoli, carrots, butternut squash
  • Cranberry or apple sauce - a very small amount of unsweetened cranberry or apple sauce is okay to share

The following foods should be avoided as they can lead to illness ranging from an upset stomach to more severe life-threatening illnesses:


1) Turkey / Ham and Bones: These foods can be high in fat and lead to pancreatitis even if eaten in small qualities in some patients. Bones from these meats can also be hazardous as they can splinter or become lodged in the esophagus.


2) Alcohol: Hops, in particular, is dangerous to pets and can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, ataxia (wobbly gait), altered mentation, difficulty breathing, tremors, metabolic abnormalities, coma and even death.


3) Cooking Staples (chocolate, raisins, bread dough, eggs, milk and salt): 

  • Raw bread dough can rapidly rise within a dog's stomach and cause vomiting, bloating or painful abdomen, ataxia (difficulty walking), blindness and ethanol toxicosis.
  • Raw or undercooked eggs or meat can lead to salmonella infections and should not be fed to pets. 
  • Pets do not possess significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk), therefore milk and other milk-based products can cause diarrhea.
  • Signs of salt toxicity include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures and even death.
  • Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine.  Depending on the amount ingested, signs of toxicity can include: increased thirst, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, restlessness, hyperactivity (progressing to wobbly gait, tremors and seizures), increased heart rate, panting, increased body temperature, and coma.  Pancreatitis is also possible since chocolates have high fat and sugar content and may contain nuts.
  • Raisins and grapes can cause kidney damage. Signs of acute kidney damage can include loss of appetite, increased thirst, lethargy, depression, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, tremors, and dehydration. Signs may develop within 24 hours or up to several days after exposure.


4) Spices: Sage and Nutmeg are two spices that are not pet safe. These spices can cause gastrointestinal upset and neurologic signs. Cats can be particularly sensitive.


5) Onions, garlic and chives: Both contain sulfides that can cause hemolytic anemia. Onions are more toxic than garlic and cooking does not reduce their toxicity.  Cats are more susceptible than dogs.


6) Macadamia nuts: These nuts can cause weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia in dogs. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and last approximately 12 to 48 hours.


Remember that most pets are not accustomed to the commotion of a busy holiday and therefore may do better somewhere where they feel safe (kennel, confined to a room distant from the noise, and/or provided a distraction toy (i.e. Kong or an interactive toy).