Six Holiday Foods You Should NOT Feed Your Pet

Holiday & seasonal
Beagle Stealing Turkey Off Table

Yes, the season is upon us. ‘Tis the season for vomiting, diarrhea, and gastrointestinal ailments aplenty. While it starts around Halloween-time and peaks sometime in late December, the days immediately following Thanksgiving and Christmas are the worst of all. 

Many pets will be paying the price for their Thanksgiving and Christmas gluttony on the day after each holiday. And, in a surprisingly high percentage of these cases, said dietary indulgences will lead to a veterinary visit. 

So if you have any desire to make things easier on yourself, your veterinarian, your pocketbook — and of course, your pet — please stay away from the following six items: 

#1 Foods Your Pet Wouldn’t Normally Eat 

This refers to any foodstuff that might be new to your pet. Even the most harmless-seeming food (like white meat turkey or cornbread) can work horrors on an untested digestive tract. For instance, feeding your dog or cat a slice of holiday ham or a piece of pumpkin pie may cause gastrointestinal upset since these are not part of their regular diet. 

#2 Anything Even Remotely “Garbage-y” 

Anything that’s going a tad “off” can wreak havoc on your pet’s intestinal bacteria. So, if you have to make a choice between the garbage bag and the pet bowl, always stick to the bag! Giving your pet leftover cranberry sauce that’s been sitting out all day could lead to bacterial imbalances in their digestive system and result in vomiting or diarrhea. 

#3 Bones or Other Sharp Objects 

Anything hard, sharp, and/or sizable enough to get stuck is a VERY bad idea — even those big ham bones that have “never been a problem before.” Offering your dog a cooked rib bone from the prime rib you served at your holiday dinner might seem harmless, but it can splinter and cause blockages or tears in their digestive system, leading to an emergency veterinary visit. 

#4 Sweet and Sugary Desserts 

Any dessert can be bad for your pet’s belly, but those with heavy fats and/or chocolate (in any form) can be especially problematic. Stay away from anything with excessive amounts of sugar as it may contain xylitol – a toxic, and potentially fatal, sugar substitute. Feeding your cat a piece of fruitcake or gingerbread cookie could lead to gastrointestinal upset, and if the dessert contains xylitol or chocolate, potential toxic effects. 

#5 Onion, or Foods Containing Onion 

Onions can be especially tricky. This is not just because we see lots of vomiting and diarrhea associated with onion toxicity, but also because this class of plants (of the allium genus, which includes onions, garlic, leeks and chives) is actually toxic to their red blood cells. Giving your dog a serving of green bean casserole with sautéed onions and garlic may lead to anemia or red blood cell damage, requiring veterinary attention. 

#6 Disobedient Relatives & Undisciplined Friends 

If you know some of your guests have a soft spot for your furry friend, I suggest posting a sign that says something like: 

"Please don't feed our pets without our permission. We love them and want to keep them healthy. Otherwise, we'll have to ban you from the next holiday party. (Just kidding... maybe.)" 

You can add a smiley face or other friendly touch if you like. This will politely remind your guests of your wishes, and it will also help to avoid any misunderstandings. 

And if they should flout your rules and feed your pet human food? Just gently remind them of your policy and explain why it's important. And maybe consider your guest list for the next holiday a bit more carefully. 

Holiday Food Mishaps and the Value of Pet Insurance 

The holiday season is a time for joy and celebration with family and friends, including our beloved pets. By being aware of the dangerous holiday foods and situations outlined in this article, you can keep your furry companions safe and prevent any potential health issues during festive times. However, despite our vigilance, accidents can still happen, and pets might end up consuming these hazardous foods. 

Having pet insurance can provide you with peace of mind knowing you’re financially prepared to handle any veterinary expenses that may arise from emergency visits due to holiday food consumption. For example, if your pet accidentally consumes chocolate or bones from the holiday table, the resulting treatment costs can be expensive, particularly at emergency clinics. With a suitable pet insurance plan in place, you can alleviate the financial burden of unexpected incidents and ensure the health and well-being of your pets throughout the holiday season and beyond. 

It's a time for family, friends, and of course, our furry companions. It's also a time for our pets to test their iron stomachs. 

Remember, even the most harmless-seeming food can cause tummy troubles for our furry friends. So if you're unsure whether something is safe for your pet to eat, it's best to err on the side of caution and say, "Sorry, Fido, that's for humans only." 

But if your pet does manage to sneak a bite of something they shouldn't have, don't panic. Just stay calm and call your veterinarian. After all, our pets are our best friends, and we want to keep them healthy and happy, especially during the holiday season.