Thursday, December 22, 2022

Holiday Table Scraps to Avoid for Pets


The holidays mean lots of leftover food, and while it may be tempting to enlist your pet to help finish it off – many of the festive foods we so much enjoy are, in fact, hazardous to pets. Dr. Jo Myers, practicing DVM on Vetster, shares these top foods to avoid:


Fat trimmings and bones


Eating too much of anything rich, fatty, or unusual — cooked or raw — can cause intestinal issues and stomach upset. Dogs are at especially high risk for a life-threatening bout of pancreatitis when they overindulge in a fatty meal. As for bones? They aren’t toxic, but they do present some hazards. Dogs and cats can nibble large, sharp, or oblong pieces of a bone that can get lodged in their esophagus or elsewhere along the digestive tract. These indigestible chunks can cause intestinal blockages which are fatal without treatment.


Raw or uncooked meat


Raw or uncooked meat can be bad for pets, just like it is for people. Raw meat can carry food-borne illnesses such as salmonella and E. coli. So make sure you wash your hands after stuffing that turkey. A pet that’s consumed raw-meat residue can disrupt a dinner in a hurry.


Onions, garlic, leeks, scallions


Pets shouldn’t eat onions, leeks, scallions, or garlic. These vegetables damage red blood cells, and eating enough of them can lead to hemolytic anemia. The effects of this condition are not always immediately evident, and can include lethargy, loss of appetite, rapid breathing, pale gums, and jaundice. Keep concentrated sources of onions and garlic out of reach from your feline friends.


Chocolate and other sources of caffeine


Chocolate contains the methylxanthines theobromine and caffeine, both of which are potentially toxic to pets when consumed in significantly large amounts. Chocolate toxicosis symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, and seizures. 


Milk, cheese, and other dairy products


Adult dogs and cats, like most mammals, are lactose intolerant.  Once weaned, the consumption of a large amount of dairy products can cause stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. So you’ll have to share your eggnog with someone else.




While we’re on the topic of eggnog, pets need to steer clear of holiday cocktails as well. Alcohol affects pets the same way as it does humans, but keep in mind dogs and cats don't weigh as much. Dogs and cats that have been exposed to alcohol may act like they’re drunk, and higher doses lead to alcohol poisoning. Symptoms include: vomiting, trouble walking, disorientation, lethargy, loss of vision, seizures, slowed breathing, loss of consciousness, and in extreme cases sudden death. 


Bread dough with yeast


Uncooked dough with yeast continues to ferment even after it’s been swallowed, and this produces alcohol. Large amounts of dough can produce dangerous amounts of alcohol as well as enough gas to cause potentially life-threatening intestinal distension. It’s best to keep pets away from the kitchen while those dinner rolls are rising.


What to do when your dog or cat eats something they shouldn’t


The severity of symptoms often depends on the amount of the hazardous food your dog or cat has eaten. But if your pet has ingested any of the above foods or is showing signs of distress, call your vet right away. It’s always better to seek help sooner rather than later, and there’s no safe or effective way to induce vomiting for cats at home, so professional help is critical.


You can also schedule an online appointment through Vetster to determine if an emergency vet visit is necessary. Licensed veterinarians are available 24/7 and can observe your pet’s behavior in their natural environment to better discuss treatment options as well as safe human-food alternatives.

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