Holiday foods to keep away from your pets

dog with reindeer antlers

Even the most conscientious pet parents should be wary around holiday guests. While you would probably never intentionally give your pet harmful table food, company can cause spills and leave unattended plates ready for your pet to gobble up. What’s worse, some house guests without their own pets may think it’s harmless to slip your dog or cat a bit of table food.

Here’s a brief list of foods that should never be fed to your pets.


Hopefully you don’t have any relatives who think it’s funny to give your pet some beer, but animals are much more likely to get into alcoholic beverages that are left unattended. According to the ASPCA, “If ingested, your pet could become weak, ill and may even go into a coma, possibly resulting in death from respiratory failure.” Yeasty breads and doughs should be avoided for the same reason.


While the wild ancestors of cats can eat the raw bones of their pray and the ancestors of dogs would chew on bones to clean their teeth, domestic cats and dogs shouldn’t be given bones from table scraps. Cooked bones, especially chicken and turkey bones, can splinter and puncture your pets’ throat or intestines.


It’s common knowledge that chocolate is poisonous to cats and dogs, but what you may not know is that baking chocolate, especially dark chocolate is much more potent than the kind found in candy.

Garlic and onions

Similarly, it’s well known that garlic, onions, leeks, scallions, and other related plants are known to cause anemia and even death in cats and dogs. What people don’t always realize is just how popular garlic and onions are as a seasoning. Gravy and stuffing are particularly risky, since the ingredients can be so finely chopped that you may not know what’s in them.

Nutmeg, cinnamon, and macadamia nuts

Spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon are common in many holiday dishes, but particularly pumpkin pie. Do not be misled, because some animals can safely consume unseasoned, cooked pumpkin. Dishes such as pumpkin pie, however, should be avoided because they can contain these potentially deadly seasonings. Macadamia nuts are also very deadly for dogs.

Grapes and raisins

Grapes and raisins are another food that may be hiding in a dish. While they are toxic to many animals, they have been known to cause acute kidney failure particularly in dogs.

Raw meat

This one may seem counterintuitive, since wild cats and dogs naturally eat their food raw. However, freshly killed prey is not the same as farm raised and butchered meat, especially if it’s been allowed to sit. Salmonella, e. Coli, and other deadly bacteria is the main concern here, so when in doubt, go with a commercially prepared dog treat or raw diet instead.

Candace Elise Hoes is a blogger at Kim’s Urban Hounds. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

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