The holidays are a time to spend with family and friends, so naturally, we want to include our animal companions in the festivities. But it’s important to avoid sharing certain foods and drinks with dogs, as they can be dangerous to their health.
Just as with humans, alcohol can affect the livers and brains of dogs. But even a small amount can cause serious damage and lead to respiratory distress, tremors, coma, or death, so it’s best to reserve alcohol for the human merrymakers.
Ham and Bacon
If anyone at your dinner table will be eating meat, make sure that no scraps of pork products are fed to your beloved animal companion. Pork can cause pancreatitis, a potentially life-threatening disease in dogs. Ham and bacon are also high in sodium, and excessive salt isn’t good for dogs (or you!), either.
As you probably know, candy is bad for dogs because of all the sugar in it. But you might not realize that a common sweetener called xylitol, which can lead to liver failure in dogs, is also found in many types of candy.
These are bad not only for humans but also for our animal companions. They can cause diarrhea and other digestive disturbances as well as allergic reactions in dogs, so keep any foods containing dairy ingredients out of reach.
Garlic, Onions and Chives
Foods in the Allium genus (including shallots and scallions) can damage our animal companions’ red blood cells, which can cause bloody urine and severe anemia as well as gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach). Certain dog breeds, especially those from Japan, are more susceptible, but any dog or cat can have a bad reaction to these foods.
This festive spice is popular in sweet treats like biscuits and gingerbread. Large amounts of it can be toxic to dogs, causing hallucinations, stomach pain, and possibly even seizures. Don’t give your pup any baked goods or other dishes that contain nutmeg or other spices.
Grapes and Raisins
Although the cause is still unclear, dogs as well as cats can experience terrible side effects, including vomiting, diarrhea, and even acute kidney failure, from eating even a small quantity of grapes or raisins.
Salt and Sugar
It’s easy to forget the high levels of salt and sugar in our holiday foods. Be aware that if a dog ingests too much salt, it can cause excessive thirst, frequent urination, or even worse problems. This is something especially important to be aware of if your animal companion has underlying kidney or cardiovascular conditions. The sugar found in most holiday desserts if given regularly can lead to obesity, dental problems, and even diabetes. It’s also bad for dogs with arthritis.
These are high in fat and can cause an upset stomach and other health problems. Macadamia nuts, in particular, even in small amounts, can make dogs extremely ill and cause vomiting, tremors, paralysis, a rapid heartbeat, and other complications.
Anything with Caffeine
Of course, if your dog ingests a significant amount of any of these foods or exhibits any signs of illness after accidentally ingesting any quantity of them, contact your veterinarian right away.
Many foods aren’t suitable for dogs over the holidays or at any other time of year, but dogs can still join in the fun. Some healthy festive foods that they may enjoy include cooked sweet potatoes, baked potatoes, raw vegetables (such as cucumbers and carrots), steamed greens, and raw fruits, like cranberries, bananas, and apples. Let’s keep our animal companions safe and make sure everyone in the family gets to enjoy the holidays.