Food & Wellness, Stay safe, Tips and Advice ˙ Dec 05, 2017

Keep these foods away from your pets during the holidays

Keep these foods away from your pets during the holidays

The holiday season has arrived once again, and with it, food and drink deck the halls - the likes of which can include candy, brownies, cake and lots of other tasty morsels that are sinfully delicious.

As scrumptious as these sweets may be, however, they can be downright dangerous for your pets - particularly if your new pet is a rambunctious puppy, who have a way of getting into things that they shouldn't. In light of this, the Canadian Animal Health Institute is reminding pet parents to be mindful of their dogs and cats throughout the holiday festivities.

Kendra Goulet, head of emergency services at Oakville Veterinary Hospital, noted that she's seen her fair share of serious situations this time of year for canines as well as felines.

"The most common Christmas-related illnesses or emergencies we see are related to dietary indiscretion," Goulet explained. "Around the holidays pets have more opportunity to get into, and eat, things they should not."

Chocolate in all forms is bad
Chief on the off-limits list is chocolate. Perhaps the most well known of the foods that are anathema to pets, chocolate comes in a variety of types including milk, dark and white (although white is technically not chocolate but rather a chocolate derivative). As a general rule, the more cocoa that it contains, the higher its toxicity. Additionally, the amount your pets eat also plays a role into how sick they could become and whether they require immediate medical treatment. Typical signs of chocolate poisoning can include vomiting, diarrhea and frequent urination. These are the less serious variety. Seizures, and tremors are more severe signs of toxicity, which may require you to see your veterinarian or nearest animal emergency care center.

While chocolate is a food that most people know is bad for pets, others are presumed to be safe - but often aren't. Case in point: turkey. Often the main course of holiday meals, turkey - as well as ham - may contain lots of healthy amounts of protein but the problem with it is not its amino acid content, but rather its high fat content, particularly in the skin. Dr. Goulet urges both pet and cat owners to avoid feeding their pets these types of scraps from the dinner table, as they can lead to stomach irritation, including diarrhea and vomiting.

"Ensure that any food items set out during entertaining, including the garbage, are out of reach of pets," Goulet explained. "Remember that dogs and cats have a keen sense of smell and can find the chocolate or other food items wrapped up under the tree."

Here are a few other foods to put on your pets' naughty list:

Nutritionists have hailed the mighty avocado for its health properties, being one of the few fruits that has monounsaturated fats, which are the good kind, as well as fiber, potassium and fat-soluble vitamins like E and K. Small amounts won't adversely affect your dog or cat, but in large doses, avocado may induce vomiting and/or diarrhea.

Found in both savory and sweet dishes alike during the holidays, raisins should be kept away from your pets. Although veterinarians aren't sure what the specific ingredient is that makes them bad for your dog or cat, they do know that large quantities can cause kidney failure. Grapes are similarly toxic.

Although it may not do wonders for your breath, garlic tastes great and smells even better. However, in addition to onions, garlic contains harmful chemicals that can do damage to pets' red blood cells, which their bodies use to carry oxygen to the cells. No matter how garlic is prepared - in fresh or cooked form - make sure your pets steer clear.

Additionally, macadamia nuts, dairy products, citrus products and of course alcohol should  not be fed to your pets either.

By keeping an eye out for your pets and what they're eating this holiday season, there's too can be merry and bright.