Modern Medicine, Old-Fashioned Care

Nov 16, 2012 | General Health, Nutrition

Holiday Hazards: Toxic Foods for Pets

dangerous-pet-foods‘Tis the season to be merry! The extra treats and tasty tidbits quickly add up. Before we know it, there’s plenty of lying around feeling bloated, nursing an upset stomach, or rushing to the hospital.

As we overindulge, it’s easy to include our pets in holiday feasting. Although overeating is not a great idea for humans, it’s really not healthy for our pets. There are many foods which are poisonous, and potentially deadly, for animals.

To keep your dog or cat safe this holiday season, avoid giving them—or letting them accidentally reach—these foods:

Keep that box or candy dish of assorted chocolates where your pet can’t get to it. Chocolate contains caffeine and fat which are dangerous, but it also contains substances poisonous to dogs. The darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is. Symptoms range from vomiting and diarrhea to tremors and seizures.

Raisins and grapes can cause kidney failure in dogs—even as few as four raisins can cause a reaction. Also the seeds from persimmons can cause digestive problems and pits from peaches or plums contain cyanide, when cracked open and consumed can be toxic.
Fat scraps & bones
Do not offer your dog a plate of fat scraps or bones. Fat can cause pancreatitis and bones can break and splinter causing your dog to choke or resulting in an obstruction or laceration in the digestive system.

You may think the family dog deserves a holiday cookie but many types contain nuts. Almonds, walnuts and pistachios can be a choking hazard or result in an upset stomach. Macadamia nuts and moldy walnuts contain toxic chemicals which cause seizures.

Speaking of nuts and cookies, nutmeg, a spice included in many baked goodies or homemade Christmas tree ornaments, can cause seizures and other nervous system problems if high levels are consumed.

Mushrooms & onions
Never share your stuffed mushroom appetizer with Fido. Wild mushrooms cause failure in various organs which can result in death. And onions, which are in many foods such as stuffing, sauces and dips, are extremely poisonous to dogs and cats. Consumption can cause red blood cells to burst. Symptoms include vomiting, difficulty breathing and lethargy.

Your pet might be the legal drinking age in dog or cat years but that doesn’t mean they should be drinking anything but fresh water. Because alcohol is rapidly absorbed in the system, the animal could quickly experience a severe drop in blood pressure, respiratory failure or seizures. Don’t let Rocco sip champagne—a double no-no—or eat Aunt Sally’s famous fruitcake!

If you believe your pet has consumed a potentially dangerous food or other substance, contact your veterinary office immediately or call the Animal Poison Control Hotline at (888) 426-4435.

For more information on foods that are toxic to pets as well as symptoms and getting help, refer to these links: