Keep Holiday Foods Away From Your Pets

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Keep Holiday Foods Away From Your Pets
Posted on November 18, 2016 in Caring for your pet, News, Tips & Advice

It’s the time of year when we gather together with our family and friends to give thanks, gifts, and most of all, food. Our pets are part of the family too, and you may be thinking about allowing them to partake in the festivities—leftovers, perhaps?

If you do decide to break the established house rule of “no people food,” don’t allow your pet to gorge on holiday foods. It can lead to health problems such as pancreatitis and bloat. It is best to limit people food to less than 10% of total food intake with 90% being nutritionally complete and balanced pet food. It is also wise to gradually add new foods into their diets to make sure they can handle them.

Chocolate, Macadamia nuts, avocados…these foods may sound delicious to us, but they’re actually quite dangerous for our animal companions. Below is the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center list of people foods to avoid feeding your pet. As always, if you suspect your pet has eaten any of the following foods, please note the amount ingested and contact one of our hospitals, or if afterhours, you can contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center directly at (888) 426-4435.

Chocolate, Coffee, Caffeine
These products all contain substances called methylxanthines, which are found in cacao seeds, the fruit of the plant used to make coffee and in the nuts of an extract used in some sodas. When ingested by pets, methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death. Note that darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate. White chocolate has the lowest level of methylxanthines, while baking chocolate contains the highest.

Alcoholic beverages and food products containing alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and even death.

The leaves, fruit, seeds and bark of avocados contain Persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. Birds and rodents are especially sensitive to avocado poisoning, and can develop congestion, difficulty breathing and fluid accumulation around the heart. Some ingestions may even be fatal.

Macadamia Nuts
Macadamia nuts are commonly used in many cookies and candies. However, they can cause problems for your canine companion. These nuts have caused weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia in dogs. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and last approximately 12 to 48 hours.

Grapes & Raisins
Although the toxic substance within grapes and raisins is unknown, these fruits can cause kidney failure. In pets that already have certain health problems, signs may be more dramatic.

Yeast Dough
Yeast dough can rise and cause gas to accumulate in your pet’s digestive system. This can be painful and can cause the stomach or intestines to rupture. Because the risk diminishes after the dough is cooked and the yeast has fully risen, pets can have small bits of bread as treats. However, these treats should not constitute more than 5 percent to 10 percent of your pet’s daily caloric intake.

Raw/Undercooked Meat, Eggs and Bones
Raw meat and raw eggs can contain bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli that can be harmful to pets. In addition, raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin that decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin), which can lead to skin and coat problems. Feeding your pet raw bones may seem like a natural and healthy option that might occur if your pet lived in the wild. However, this can be very dangerous for a domestic pet, who might choke on bones, or sustain a grave injury should the bone splinter and become lodged in or puncture your pet’s digestive tract.

Xylitol is used as a sweetener in many products, including gum, candy, baked goods and toothpaste. It can cause insulin release in most species, which can lead to liver failure. The increase in insulin leads to hypoglycemia (lowered sugar levels). Initial signs of toxicosis include vomiting, lethargy and loss of coordination. Signs can progress to recumbancy and seizures. Elevated liver enzymes and liver failure can be seen within a few days. More about xylitol

Onions, Garlic, Chives
These vegetables and herbs can cause gastrointestinal irritation and could lead to red blood cell damage. Although cats are more susceptible, dogs are also at risk if a large enough amount is consumed. Toxicity is normally diagnosed through history, clinical signs and microscopic confirmation of Heinz bodies. An occasional low dose, such as what might be found in pet foods or treats, likely will not cause a problem, but we recommend that you do NOT give your pets large quantities of these foods.

pets and holiday foodsMilk
Because pets do not possess significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk), milk and other milk-based products cause them diarrhea or other digestive upset.

Large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning in pets. Signs that your pet may have eaten too many salty foods include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures and even death. In other words, keep those salty chips to yourself.


This Holiday Season, we want to express our gratitude to all our wonderful clients and patients. We strive to provide the best care for every client and every patient, every day. At Animal Hospitals of Tampa, we understand that this is a very busy time of the year, so we are here to help. You can get a head start on your pet’s holiday shopping by visiting our online store. We also offer delivery of food and medications, and even pick up and drop off service for your pets health related visits, boarding, and grooming and bring them back home for you at no charge. Please contact us at any of our locations if we can be of any assistance. We are here for you!

If your pet won’t be included in your travel or holiday plans, rest assured that our Pet Resort staff will be there for them.  We have Pet Resort team members working everyday, including holidays, to care for your loved ones. Simply contact us to make your doggie or kitty day care, boarding reservation, or grooming appointment, and we’ll do the rest!

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