The holidays are typically celebrated with an abundance of food! Unfortunately, this can sometimes pose a risk for our pets, whether it’s eating something they should not, or just overeating in general. There are some foods that your dog should never under any circumstances be fed, and some foods that are okay in moderation.
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Holiday Foods That Are Dangerous for Dogs
Cooked Poultry BonesBecause they are soft, poultry bones break easily, leaving sharp edges that can potentially tear the esophagus or the lining of the intestinal tract. If your dog eats a bone, contact your vet immediately for advice. Most vets suggest feeding the dog some soft bread that can help dull the bone and allow it to pass easier. You should never induce vomiting because bringing the bone back up carries the same risks of causing a tear. Your vet can also advise you on potential problems to watch for over the next several days, and if and when it may be necessary to bring your dog in for further evaluation.
Garlic and OnionsBoth garlic and onions are ingredient staples in much of what we cook. Allowing your dog a few licks of your leftover soup is most likely fine, but be aware that consuming even small amounts of garlic and onion, whether raw or cooked, fresh or in powder form, does have the potential to be toxic, even leading to death in some cases. Limiting these foods to just a taste or two, or just avoiding them altogether is the safest bet.
Grapes and RaisinsPeople often serve grapes with cheese and hors d'oeuvres, and raisins are often found in holiday breads, stuffings, and desserts. Both can be deadly to dogs, causing kidney failure even in small amounts, so it’s very important to make sure your dog never eats either.
DessertsAlthough most of us know chocolate is toxic to dogs, many of us don’t realize that artificial sweeteners, like Xylitol, can be deadly, even in very small amounts! In addition, pies, cakes, cookies, and other sweets are high in sugar and fat, making them very rich. Bottom line, avoiding feeding your dog sweets is the safest choice.
Holiday Foods That Are Should Be Very Limited or Avoided
Gravy and Stuffing
Both of these holiday staples are very high in fat and sodium which can lead to gastrointestinal upset. If you decide to give your dog either of these foods, just make sure it’s only a taste, especially if they contain garlic and onions, which as stated above, are on the dangerous list.
Mashed Potatoes and Dairy Products
Milk, cream, cheese, and butter are all a no-no because they can cause diarrhea and other types of stomach upset. If you decide to give your dog mashed potatoes, just make sure it’s a very small amount.
Turkey Fat and Skin
Here again, a taste is most likely fine, but anything more and you are risking digestive upset due to the very high fat content and no one wants to be dealing with a sick dog during the holidays!
Safe Holiday Foods for Dogs
Gathering with friends and family to share a meal is what the holidays are all about, and although keeping portion size in mind is still important, there are some yummy foods that you can safely share with your fur babies! Pieces of cooked turkey, green beans, carrots, sweet potatoes, unsweetened cranberries or pumpkin puree are all healthy options that you can safely share with your dogs.
Ideas for Sharing Holiday Foods with Your Dog
Along with feeding small portions of foods you feel are safe, if you know your dog will be roaming around your guests, it is smart to inform them in advance not to give in to the puppy eyes. But as all of us who are dog lovers know, that’s not easy to do!
One suggestion we have is to put out a bowl with some of the safe foods we listed above, and tell your guests they can feed your dog a treat from that bowl. This allows you to control how many handouts your dog gets, without completely restricting your guests from giving some treats.
Sometimes Things Don’t Go as Planned
We can recall one Thanksgiving dinner when one of our dogs threw up… We wondered (out loud) what he may have eaten that could have caused it? Well, every one of our guests admitted to slipping him, “just one or two pieces” of this or that, which is totally understandable, but there were 10 of us there! Mystery solved.
No matter how careful we are, sometimes our dogs eat things they should not, and despite our best efforts, whether accidental or otherwise, they may overindulge simply due to the abundance of food around.
With this in mind, being prepared for any issue that may arise is the best defense!
Be Prepared, Just In case
There are some simple steps you can take to ensure that even if issues do arise, you will be prepared.
- Know the location, directions, and contact info for your nearest vet or emergency vet. This is especially important if you are traveling out of town with your pet for the holidays.
- Keep the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center number handy. This is your best resource for any animal poison-related emergency. If you think your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, call (888) 426-4435. They are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
- If your dog is experiencing digestive issues, such as vomiting or diarrhea, having the right products on hand can be super helpful. Our Bland Diets provide a quick, healthy, all-natural meal that is ready in minutes by simply adding boiling water, and our fast-acting Ready Balance gel is highly effective at firming stool and quickly restoring digestive balance.
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With some precautions and preparedness, you and your dog will be able to relax and enjoy all the great food that comes with celebrating the holiday season!