cat waiting for food.

As we enter the most wonderful time of the year, Leon Valley Veterinary Hospital wants to make sure that the season stays enjoyable for our animal friends. The holidays are fraught with unique hazards and toxic pet foods, and knowing what things to steer clear of might be the greatest gift of all. 

Bad Food for Pets During the Holidays

For many of us, the best part of the holiday season is all of the treats and goodies! While it might seem only natural to share the bounty with our four-legged family, there are certainly toxic holiday foods for pets lurking that every animal lover should be aware of.

When celebrating this season, be sure to avoid toxic pet foods, including:

  • Grapes and raisins (including in baked goods)
  • Treats and candies sweetened with xylitol, an artificial sweetener
  • Garlic and onions (especially in large amounts)
  • Chocolate (dark and baking varieties are most dangerous)
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Unbaked yeasted dough
  • Unattended alcoholic drinks
  • Rich, fatty foods that include butter, gravy, and trimmings that can induce pancreatitis or gastrointestinal upset

Some toxic pet foods are given to pets with good intentions (adding a little something to their food bowl to celebrate), but other times holiday pet toxicities happen inadvertently. 

Be sure that garbage cans are secured from curious noses and that houseguests know not to feed your pets to avoid trouble. You also will want to pay attention that wrapped gifts and platters of food being prepared or left out for entertaining are out of your pet’s reach.

Smarter Choices to Celebrate

Being cautious about toxic pet foods doesn’t mean that you can’t celebrate the holidays with your pets, though!

Consider sharing small amounts of pet appropriate holiday treats. If your animal’s gastrointestinal tract allows, a taste of lean, skinless turkey or chicken can be a nice addition to dinner! Other relatively safe choices include a little plain pumpkin puree, green beans or carrots (no butter please), baked sweet potato, or some apple. 

There are also lots of fun, festive commercially available treats out there for the holiday season. If you are feeling extra jolly, you can even make your own.

Many pets appreciate non-food treats as well. A new toy, a good grooming session, a trip to Grandma’s house, or even some extra snuggles on the couch might be greatly appreciated (depending on your pet). 

With a little thought and creativity, there are a lot of ways that you can celebrate with your pet while avoiding toxic holiday foods. Be sure that your season is safe, fun, and pet inclusive—memories with paws are some of the best! And, as always, remember to give us a call if you have concerns.