The holiday season is upon us, which means many of us are spending more time in the kitchen or at the dinner table with loved ones. As delicious aromas flow through your home over the coming weeks, don’t be surprised if your furry friends come hanging around, waiting for a sample. But, while letting them have a taste here and there may be tempting, many popular foods can be downright dangerous to our pets. Consider the following safe alternatives to risky foods risks so you can include your pets in the holiday fun. 

Delectable foods that are unsafe for pets

Many popular holiday dishes are laden with ingredients that pose health hazards to our pets. From garlic mashed potatoes, to turkey and gravy, steer clear from feeding your pets the following foods:

  • Garlic and onionsWhen ingested in large amounts, foods from the Allium genus can cause red blood cell damage, leading to anemia, in addition to gastrointestinal upset. Cats are more sensitive to the effects of garlic and onions, so smaller amounts may cue signs in felines. 
  • Turkey or chicken skin and gravy These tasty, high-fat foods can lead to potentially severe inflammation of the pancreas, known as pancreatitis, a painful condition that may necessitate costly hospitalization. 
  • Meat bones Soft, cooked chicken or turkey bones can easily split during digestion, possibly puncturing your pet’s stomach or intestines. Heftier bones, such as beef or pork ribs, can become lodged in the esophagus, stomach, or intestines, and may require surgery. 
  • Foods made with cream or cheese Heavy, rich, dairy foods can also lead to pancreatitis, vomiting, diarrhea, and general gastrointestinal discomfort. 
  • Yeast dough Breads and other dishes using yeast can lead to dangerous stomach bloating after ingestion.  

Safe savory options for pets

While many foods people enjoy can harm pets, there are some safe options to offer your furry friends. Consider the following pet-friendly foods in small amounts:

  • Steamed vegetables A small serving of plain, gently steamed carrots, green beans, and peas is not only safe for your pet, but also provides a beneficial dose of vitamins and minerals. Skip the salt and butter. 
  • Lean protein Turkey, chicken, lean beef, or tofu in small amounts are tasty, healthy treats that most pets will gobble up. Remember to remove bones and skin, and don’t add any gravy or sauces.
  • Low-fat cottage cheese or yogurt While heavy cream and cheeses can wreak havoc on the pancreas, lower-fat dairy products in small portions can provide pets a good source of palatable protein. 

Delicious desserts that can harm pets

Desserts and sweet treats are hallmarks of the holiday season, but many popular ingredients can make pets seriously ill. Never expose your pet to any of the following sweet foods:

  • Grapes or raisins While we don’t fully understand the toxicity behind grapes and pets, we do know they can potentially cause serious harm to the kidneys. If you’ll be baking with raisins this holiday, it’s best to keep Fluffy out of the kitchen until clean-up is complete. 
  • Chocolate An ingredient in chocolate known as methylxanthine can lead to hyperactivity, vomiting, diarrhea, abnormal heart rhythm, and a variety of other potentially dangerous signs in pets. Darker chocolates have higher concentrations of this harmful ingredient, so use extra caution when using dark or baking chocolate. 
  • Macadamia nuts Dogs can suffer from weakness, increased body temperature, and gastrointestinal signs about 12 hours after ingesting macadamia nuts. 
  • Xylitol This popular sugar substitute, which is commonly found in gums and candies, is also used in many baked goods. Ingestion can lead to dangerously low blood sugar in pets.

Risk-free dessert options for pets 

Despite the danger lurking behind many of the sweet treats people enjoy, many tasty alternatives can be offered to pets in small doses. Consider the following options:

  • Banana pudding Check out this tasty recipe from BarkPost that uses hearty ingredients such as bananas, eggs, and almond milk. Your dog will lap this up in seconds flat. 
  • Blueberry biscuits Give your pet a delicious treat with an added dose of antioxidants with this healthy recipe from Martha Stewart. 
  • Find a pet-friendly bakery Many bakeries offer delectable options for dogs and cats. Check your local establishments for more information. 

If you have further questions about holiday food safety this season, consult our veterinary team.