The festive time of year is upon us—and families and friends are gathering to enjoy favorite holiday meals and goodies. We love to include our canine pals in the seasonal festivities, but don’t forget that not all “people foods” should be shared with dogs. During the holidays, be especially aware that the following foods and beverages can harm dogs.
Foods to Keep Out of Your Pet’s Reach: Dangerous Food for Dogs
Turkey meat and skin. Dogs that ingest too much fatty turkey meat and skin (especially if it’s covered with gravy) can develop a condition called canine pancreatitis, which can cause severe diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, and eventual shock. Slipping your dog a small bite of cooked turkey is probably safe; too much turkey, though, is not health-smart, especially for smaller dogs.
Turkey bones. In addition to the canine pancreatitis risk mentioned above, there’s another reason to keep the turkey platter away from your dog. Cooked turkey bones, when chewed and swallowed, splinter into fragments that can cause a variety of physical problems, including blocking or perforating your dog’s intestines. And dogs delight in rummaging in the trash, so consider putting bones in a tightly lidded container before you toss them into a garbage bag.
Desserts and candy. There are a slew of doggie hazards in the goodies category. First, chocolate can be toxic, even fatal, for dogs. The darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is for dogs. Their bodies can’t break down certain components in chocolate, including caffeine. Next, the artificial sweetener called Xylitol, commonly used in baked goods, candy and chewing gum, is very toxic for dogs, leading to hypoglycemia and, possibly, liver failure. Third, yeast dough, used in baking breads, rolls and and some desserts, may rise after being ingested and lead to intestinal rupture or obstruction. Also, the yeast can ferment after being eaten, causing alcohol poisoning in dogs.
Alcohol. Most pet owners are smart enough to refrain from giving alcoholic beverages to their dogs. Still, some dogs will lap up whatever they can get access to, so keep alcoholic drinks out of reach. The most common sources of alcohol poisoning in dogs, though, are foods that contain alcohol, like the aforementioned yeast dough, as well as cakes and other baked goods soaked with rum or other hard liquor. Another danger: rich sauces that contain lots of booze. If you suspect that your dog has ingested alcohol (your pooch will show signs of alcohol ingestion: a staggering gait, confused behavior and vomiting, for example), rush your pet to a veterinarian for immediate treatment.
Coffee and other caffeinated beverages. Caffeinated products contain stimulants called methylxanthines, and pets are much more sensitive to the effects of these substances than humans are. Ingesting even small amounts makes dogs vulnerable to caffeine poisoning, which can cause hyperactivity, panting, elevated heart rate, tremors, seizures and collapse. Seek immediate veterinarian care.
Macadamia nuts, raisins, onions, and garlic. What do these seemingly unrelated foods have in common? Other than the fact that all are often-used ingredients in various holiday entrees and desserts, they’re also dangerous if ingested by dogs. Macadamia nuts, popular ingredients in cookies and candies, can cause toxic reactions in dogs, including vomiting, tremors and elevated body temperature. As with macadamia nuts, the exact toxins in raisins and grapes that harm pets are not known, but these fruits can cause kidney damage in dogs. Onions and garlic, as well as leeks and chives, contain organosulfoxides that can cause gastrointestinal upset and, more serious, can damage dogs’ red blood cells.
If you know or suspect that your dog has ingested poisonous foods or beverages, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435. Their experts may be able to give you valuable, and potentially life saving, information about your pet’s emergency care.
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The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional veterinary help.