​​Altadena Valley Animal Clinic

The Dangers Of Holiday Foods To Pets

by Dr. Julie Grimes

The holidays are fast approaching - cooler weather, family gatherings, and lots of delicious food. As we celebrate and give thanks with family and friends, it’s important to remember the dangers these feasts can be to our pets. As tempting as it can be to share our holiday food with our pets, just a nibble can cause severe intestinal distress and sickness. 

To help keep your pets safe, happy, and healthy this holiday season, here are some important foods to avoid feeding (or sneaking) to your best furry friend. 

Turkey/Fried and Fatty Foods
Never give your pet raw or undercooked turkey or any fried or fatty foods. Turkey can contain salmonella bacteria and cause severe intestinal distress. Even small amounts of turkey, turkey skins, or fatty foods can lead to a condition known as pancreatitis. (Pancreatitis is a life-threatening condition causing inflammation of the pancreas, resulting in pain, and swelling.) Also, make sure you don’t give your pet a leftover turkey carcass. They contain bones that are hard to digest and become lodged in their intestinal tract. 

Signs of Pancreatitis
Pancreatitis can come on quickly and then pass, or it can stay for longer periods. The following symptoms are typical signs of pancreatitis. 

  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Belly pain

Other symptoms may include:

  • Fever or low body temperature
  • Diarrhea
  • No energy
  • Hard time breathing
  • Dehydration
  • Irregular heartbeat

If your pet is experiencing any of these symptoms, bring them to the clinic immediately for an evaluation. 

Other Foods Your Pet Should Avoid
Raisins/Grapes/Currents – While these are good foods for people to eat, they can be poisonous to pets by causing kidney failure.

Onions, garlic, and chives (as well as onion and garlic powder) - These can be harmful to your dog, especially in large amounts. Garlic can create anemia in dogs, causing side effects such as pale gums, elevated heart rate, weakness, and collapse. If you’ve put a lot of onions and garlic powder in your salsa, marinade, or beans, don’t let your dog get into the leftovers. 

Additional foods your pet should avoid include:

  • Chocolate
  • Nuts
  • Dough
  • Foods with the artificial sweetener xylitol (This includes some brands of sugarless gum, candies, oral products, peanut butter, and other kinds of nut butters)

Ingesting these foods can cause severe vomiting and diarrhea; xylitol can be deadly to dogs and cats. If you believe your pet has eaten something s/he shouldn’t have, call the clinic immediately. 

Create A Pet-Friendly Feast
Even though there may seem like a lot of foods that are off-limits for your pet, consider these healthy options you can provide for a pet-friendly Thanksgiving feast.

Some raw vegetables and fruits offer healthy, safe alternatives. Choice options include baby carrots, green beans, apples, chunks of sweet potato, or pumpkin puree (NOT the sweetened, spiced pie filling).

Remember, don’t cave to those sweet, puppy dog eyes. Pets DO NOT need human food. And keep trash with food remnants secure. Tempting as it is to share a holiday feast with our furry friends, this year keep your pet stay healthy by providing pet-approved treats.


Julie Grimes, DVM