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Pets And Christmas Food - Don't Do It

Updated on March 7, 2013

Pets And Leftovers

It's very tempting to feed your pet the leftovers from Christmas dinner.

In some cases, this won't hurt them. Your dog or cat probably won't mind a bit of turkey...with the key word here being 'a bit'.

In others, though, you can seriously harm or kill your pet by feeding them 'people food'. Instead, treat your pet with dog or cat treats or even special dog or cat candy, which most pet stores will sell.

Here are some particular concerns:


Most people know not to give their dog chocolate. Chocolate is hazardous to pretty much all domestic animals, even in small quantities. It does not take much chocolate to kill even a large dog.

Furthermore, dogs like chocolate and will keep eating it once they have tasted it. Dogs are sensitive to theobromine...the very same substance that makes chocolate a mood elevator in humans. Chocolate ingestion symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea and hyperactivity.

First aid for chocolate poisoning includes administering syrup of ipecac to induce vomiting and activated charcoal to absorb the poison. (The latter should be in your pet first aid kit at all times).

Grapes and Raisins

Grapes and raisins are also toxic to pets (although not to horses...I have found both to be a good treat for aged horses who have no teeth left).

Grapes can cause severe acute kidney failure and should always be kept out of the reach of dogs and cats.

Remember that fruitcake, Christmas pudding and English-style mince pies all commonly contain raisins and thus should not be fed to pets.

Macadamia Nuts

These tend to show up more at Christmas than any other time of year.

Macadamia nuts will, at the very least, cause your dog to throw up (not a pleasant situation) and can cause an elevated heart rate that might need veterinary attention.

Onions and Garlic

Small quantities of onions and garlic are not a problem. Large quantities, however, can cause problems for dogs and cats.

They can give your pet a stomach ache and can even cause anemia. Do not give your dog a bowl of stew that is heavily seasoned with either of them.



Cats and small dogs especially should be kept away from the hooch. Bear in mind that even a large dog is smaller than a small human, except for the giant breeds. And, of course, your dog doesn't drink regularly (we hope) and has a lower tolerance.

All of this means that first of all Fido or Blackie are going to get drunk very easily. But it's worse than that. Your dog or cat is much more likely to get alcohol poisoning and is simply more sensitive than you are. If you have ever been falling down drunk (or watched a friend get in that state) then you'll know the symptoms - loss of coordination, hyperactive behavior and an increased need to visit the bathroom.

A drunk dog needs to be taken to the vet, preferably not by a drunk human. Activated charcoal can also help stave off alcohol poisoning, especially if given immediately after you catch Rover with that beer.

(In contrast, horses can safely be given alcohol and many quite enjoy a heavy beer - in Ireland it is common to feed racehorses Guinness regularly and it's considered to help their performance and health...due to the fact that they ferment their food anyway and are huge it is almost impossible to get a horse drunk. People have tried.)


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    • catgypsy profile image

      catgypsy 6 years ago from the South

      Thanks for this hub! People need to know about these foods and how dangerous they are to their pets. I stopped feeding mine almost all people food when I found out about grapes. I had no idea something like that would hurt them, so now I don't trust anything. Better safe than sorry, right?

    • profile image

      PuppyPT 6 years ago

      Thank you for writing this! Education is key here. My 3 dogs and cat eat real food for all their meals mixed with a high quality kibble. (Like EVO, Blue Buffalo brands) People should educate themselves on what is safe for their pets. I'm a strong believer in all of this and have studied with the most progressive Vets regarding animal nutrition in the past few years. There are MANY choices of healthy food for your dog or cat, but some examples are: turkey, chicken, beef, fish, ham, squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach(dogs only), rice, oatmeal, apples (not the core), pears...and you can spice them up with ginger powder, mustard powder, rosemary and many other toppings. This is so much healthier than the same bland non-nutritious kibble everyday. Can you imagine eating what you feed your furry friend? Most importantly, look at your first main ingredients in the kibble you feed you pet....if it includes meat by-product or corn then it's not a good choice. Look for ingredients you would eat. If you wouldn't, why feed it to your pet? Feeding your pet your leftovers or table scraps isn't a bad idea. Just understand and choose what you're feeding to them.

    • Kim Cheshire profile image

      Kim Cheshire 6 years ago

      Thanks for making this timely reminder.

    • Cresentmoon2007 profile image

      Cresentmoon2007 6 years ago from Caledonia, MI

      Mm this is exactly why I get upset with my step uncle. He constantly feeds her those table scraps. Well written hub. Voted up.