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To Share or Not to Share: Holiday Foods and Pets

Foods not to share with petsIt’s no secret that all the extra time cooking holiday meals can invite in your favorite furry footed sous chef. As the phrase goes: sharing is caring. But, with a pet…that depends on what you’re sharing. Veterinary dermatologist Dr. Jennifer Bentley of Veterinary Referral Center of Central Oregon discussed the issue on a recent Facebook Live.

Watch the “Holiday Foods and Pets | What Not to Share” Discussion

Food Sharing Ground Rules

Before we dive into food-specifics for common holiday menu items, it’s good to have a few simple ground rules. First, and foremost, moderation is key when sharing people food with our pets. In small doses, many of the ingredients in our holiday meals or some of the dishes themselves, can be safe for our pets to eat.

The bottom line is, if you aren’t sure if a food is safe to feed your pet, then it’s best not to share that item with them. Instead choose to give them a pet-specific treat, and celebrate with safety.

Sharing Isn’t Caring

There is a short list of foods that are unsafe to share, even in small doses, and should be skipped all together.

  • High fat foods such as dishes with a cream sauce, or food with a lot of butter or grease shouldn’t be shared with your furry friend. While these foods probably smell delicious to your pal, when they’re ingested they can lead to pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), and end with a veterinary emergency room visit.
  • Garlic is toxic to pets. While it is unlikely you would choose to feed your beloved pet a raw clove of garlic on its own, garlic is often a hidden ingredient in holiday dishes such as mashed potatoes, or rolls. So, be mindful of the ingredients included in dishes, and don’t share dishes with garlic.
  • Raw dough is an absolute no-go. It can cause two problems. First, it expands in the stomach, which can cause bloating and be very uncomfortable for your pet. As if that wasn’t enough, after dough is consumed, it can release alcohol and cause alcohol intoxication. So, say it with us: no dough for Fido!
  • Candy needs to be kept in non-sniffable, paw-protected spaces. Around the holidays, these treats often arrive in holiday gift bags or stockings. Read this blog for a refresher on what to watch out for with pets and candies.
  • Grapes and raisins are toxic for pets, read our holiday food blog for more information.

Foods That Are Safe to Share

When deciding to share any of the foods on the list below, keep in mind the rules of thumb we shared above: moderation, avoid the list of no-go foods, and avoid high-fat foods.

  • Vegetables such as peas, carrots, and pumpkin are okay to share (in moderation).
  • Turkey, without grease, spices or the skin can be consumed in small quantities as a light meat treat. However, more than that is too much of a good thing for your pet.
  • Rolls, and baked bread on their own, are pet-friendly. But remember to be wary of garlic hiding in baked goods. Before sharing bread with your pet ask yourself: is it garlic bread? Is there a lot of butter added? If you answered yes to either of those questions, then don’t share it with your pet. If you answered no, then you’re likely good-to-go!
  • Desserts…well, here’s an answer that no one likes: it depends. Some of the ingredients you might include in a dessert may be okay to share. For example, if you’re peeling apples for a pie have slices of a fresh apple, then feel free to feed a slice to your pet (just don’t include the apple seeds). However, many desserts and cookies are high in fat and sugar which, as we talked about, increases the risk of pancreatitis. Worst case scenario, the desert could be loaded with no-go ingredients like raisins, or chocolate. So, as always, be mindful of what is in the sweet-treat, and if it seems like something you probably shouldn’t feed your pet, then don’t.

The abundance of good-sniffing foods during the holidays can be tempting for pets. So, store them in places they can’t access. But, if you’re worried that your pet found the food, then contact Animal Poison Control, and don’t hesitate to give our 24-hour Emergency Vet Hospital a call.