Holiday Food Safety Tips for Pets

The holiday season is a festive time with celebrations of all kinds. This is a time of joy and cheer, but nothing can ruin your holiday spirit like a trip to the emergency vet. Whether you are celebrating at home or traveling to visit loved ones, it is a good idea to be prepared. Cookies, cakes and other goodies are in plentiful supply this time of year. Many foods that we enjoy are harmful for our pets. Here are a few of the most toxic food items for animals:

Chocolate – Most people know that chocolate is toxic to dogs but did you know it is harmful to cats too? The level of toxicity depends on the type of chocolate, the size of the animal and the amount they ate.  No matter what, it’s just safer to keep this snack away from all pets.

Xylitol – Xylitol is an artificial sweetener found in many items such as baked goods, chewing gum and peanut butter. Xylitol has been linked to liver failure and even death in dogs.

Turkey skin, fatty foods and table scraps – The grease and fat in these foods can cause a condition called pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas, an organ that helps digestion and regulates blood sugar.  Symptoms of pancreatitis include abdominal distention, diarrhea and lethargy. Other foods like grapes and raisins can lead to kidney failure.  Onions and garlic release chemicals that make it hard for an animal’s blood to carry oxygen effectively or can even cause red blood cells to burst.

Yeast – Yeast and dough can be especially harmful as it can cause extremely painful gas and even dangerous bloat, which can be life-threatening.

If you think your pet has ingested something it shouldn’t have, important symptoms to be aware of include vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy. If your pet exhibits any of these symptoms, a call to your vet is warranted. It’s always a good idea to have your veterinarian’s phone number handy. You can also call the ASPCA’s Poison Control hotline at 1-888-426-4435.