9 Holiday Food Hazards for Pets

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9 Holiday Food Hazards for Pets

Holiday Christmas foods that are bad for dogs and cats.


By Dr. Eva Evans, a veterinarian and writer for Pets Best, a pet health insurance agency for dogs and cats founded in 2005.

The holidays are just around the corner, which means delicious treats and tasty eats. It’s important to know what ingredients are safe for dogs and cats, and what holiday meals can make them sick. In addition to the health issues listed below, all of these foods are high in calories. One small cube of cheese to your Chihuahua is like a human eating two donuts! Pets are at risk for obesity which leads to diabetes, arthritis, heart and lung disease and many other long term chronic diseases. Make sure to keep these nine holiday foods away from your pets!

1. Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin is good for dogs, right? By itself, canned pumpkin rarely causes any intestinal upset. However, pumpkin pie has added ingredients such as spices, sugar and dairy that can cause upset stomach and diarrhea. Pumpkin contains a lot of fiber, so feeding it to your pet will likely end with an emergency trip to the vet for diarrhea medications!

2. Pecan Pie

This holiday favorite is high in fat and sugar, which can lead to diarrhea, vomiting and upset stomach. In addition, small dogs and cats may swallow pecans whole which can lead to an intestinal blockage. Nuts are not easily digestible and can easily become lodged in the intestines leading to emergency surgery. Be sure to keep this delicious dessert away from pets, which means more for you!

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3. Alcohol

When family and friends get together, sometimes alcohol is poured. Whether it be eggnog, punch, wine or a cocktail, it should all be kept away from pets. Dogs and cats alike will get into alcoholic drinks, and this can land them in the hospital. Even a small amount of alcohol can cause vomiting, weakness and seizures in pets. Be sure to keep pets away from the bar to keep them safe this holiday!

4. Bread Pudding & Plum Pudding

Two of the most decadent of all holiday desserts are bread pudding and plum pudding. Often made with raisins, these dishes can cause severe and potentially fatal kidney failure in dogs. Beware that any dish using grapes or raisins is toxic to dogs! In addition, the high fat and sugar content can cause upset stomachs leading to diarrhea and pancreatitis. If your recipe calls for walnuts or pecans, this creates an additional choking hazard and possibility for intestinal blockage.

5. Ham

Christmas ham is one of the biggest traditions of this holiday. Ham and pork products are high in fat and sodium, which can lead to painful and potentially fatal pancreatitis. High fat foods cause the pancreas to overreact which can then lead to enzyme leakage. This condition can happen in both dogs and cats, and it is extremely painful, may cause vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy and decreased appetite. In addition, ham bones can cause tooth fractures from chewing on them, and they can become lodged in the stomach and intestines causing a potentially fatal blockage of the intestines.

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6. Turkey Bones

Bones can cause severe indigestion in dogs and cats, potentially causing vomiting and  obstructing the bowel. Bones may also splinter and cause damage to the inside of the stomach and intestines. In some cases, turkey bones may even puncture through the stomach and cause a potentially fatal abdominal infection.

7. Mashed Potatoes

While potatoes on their own are safe for pets to eat, mashed potatoes usually contain butter and milk, which can cause diarrhea in pets that experience lactose intolerance. Additionally, some recipes call for onion powder or garlic, which are both very toxic to pets.

8. Stuffing

Stuffing or dressing is often made with onions, scallions or garlic. These ingredients are extremely toxic to dogs and cats and can cause life-threatening anemia (destruction of the red blood cells). It’s best to avoid feeding any amount of stuffing to pets.

9. Salads with Grapes or Raisins

From a fruit salad, to Waldorf salad, to ambrosia, be sure to keep all dishes that include grapes or raisins away from pets. Grapes and raisins are very toxic and potentially deadly. They can cause severe, irreversible and sometimes fatal kidney failure in dogs.


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