Christmas is all about spending time with your loved ones, and eating delicious, rich food. While there may be a temptation to share your Christmas dinner with your dog or cat, many of the foods on your plate could make them very sick. Here is a list of do’s and don’ts for Christmas dinner:

Christmas Don’ts

  1. Fatty Meats

Extra fatty foods, like turkey skin, pan drippings, gravy, bacon, and sausage are all dangerous for your pet. Too much fat can cause gastrointestinal upset (vomiting and diarrhea) or even pancreatitis (vomiting, belly pain, inability to eat). Pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed, often times from eating a fatty meal.

  1. Bones

As a veterinary hospital, we recommend never giving your dog meat bones to chew on. Bone fragments can get lodged in the throat, puncture the esophagus, stomach, or intestines, as well as cause blockages while going through the digestive tract.

  1. Chocolate

Keep any source of chocolate away from Fido- this can be difficult when there are cakes, brownies, cakes, pies, and cookies on every countertop. Chocolate can cause seizures and death in dogs and cats. Darker chocolate, such as unsweetened baker’s chocolate, is more toxic than milk or white chocolate. Chocolate ingestion requires an immediate trip to the vet to induce vomiting and charcoal to absorb the toxin.

  1. Nuts

While dogs can have a little natural peanut butter (but none with xylitol) as a treat, walnuts, and macadamia nuts are toxic.

  1. Candy and Gum

Xylitol is also commonly found in candy, gum, toothpaste, baked goods, and some diet foods. It can cause an animal’s blood sugar to drop due to increased insulin, seizures, and possibly liver failure. Initial symptoms include vomiting, lethargy, and loss of coordination.

  1. Alcohol

Alcohol can cause seizures, respiratory failure, and severe liver or brain damage. Just two teaspoons of whiskey can cause a coma in a 5-pound cat, and one more teaspoon could kill it. The higher the proof, the worse the symptoms.

  1. Raisins and Grapes

Grapes, raisins, and currants — even grape juice — in small amounts can cause kidney failure in dogs and cats.

  1. Onions, Garlic, Leeks, Chives

Onions, garlic, leeks and chives (powdered, raw, cooked, or dehydrated) can be toxic in dogs and cats. When chewed or swallowed, these ingredients can cause anemia and gastrointestinal upset. Because of this, it is also best to avoid giving your pets any stuffing.

  1. Unbaked Bread Dough

Even though most people wouldn’t knowingly give bread dough to their pets, a sneaky dog may make a grab if left on the counter to rise. Unbaked bread dough can expand in the stomach, and if the stomach twists, it can cut off the dog’s blood supply and emergency surgery is needed. The yeast in the dough can also produce alcohol, leading to seizures and respiratory failure.

  1. Caffeine

Tea bags, soda, energy drinks, coffee grounds, coffee beans, chocolate-covered espresso beans, and diet pills are all dangerous for dogs and cats because of the caffeine inside them. According to the Pet Poison Hotline, while 1-2 laps of coffee, tea or soda will not contain enough caffeine to cause poisoning in most pets, the ingestion of moderate amounts of coffee grounds, tea bags or 1-2 diet pills can easily cause death in small dogs or cats. Symptoms of caffeine poisoning include restlessness, rapid breathing, heart palpitations, muscle tremors, and fits.

  1. Dairy

Most dogs and cats are lactose intolerant, so any dishes with dairy may make them nauseous with stomach upset.

Also remember- after a joyous night and some holiday drinks, don’t let your pets anywhere near Tylenol, Ibuprofen, or pain relievers you may have sitting on the nightstand. Acetaminophen, which is found in Tylenol and other medications, can cause severe ulcers, anemia, and liver damage in dogs. Cats are even more sensitive: Ingestion of a single 325 mg tablet by a 10-pound cat can cause anemia and even be fatal.

Christmas Do’s

If you want to brighten your pet’s day with a special treat, you can! Just make sure it is safe for them first, and that 90% of their bowl is still their regular food.

  1. Skinless Turkey Meat or Salmon

As a meat compromise, consider giving your dog a small amount of skinless turkey meat (less than ½ cup) as a nice treat on top of their kibble. Cooked or tinned salmon provides healthy protein with omega-3 fatty acids.

  1. Yogurt or Cottage Cheese

Yogurt and cottage cheese are low in lactose, as well as high in calcium, phosphorous, and protein. Adding a tablespoon of plain yogurt to your dog’s kibble will aid in digestion.

  1. Winter Vegetables

Plain potatoes, broccoli heads, sweet potatoes, green beans, peas, Brussel sprouts, carrots, and parsnips are all excellent and safe food choices for your dog. If you’re giving him leftovers, either rinse away any excess butter and oil or better yet, put aside a portion before you dress the veg.

  1. Fruit

Dogs can eat a few cranberries, but be mindful to limit sugar. Apple slices (without the apple seeds) are a great sweet treat as well.

  1. Rice

Many dogs enjoy plain brown or white rice, and it can be a nice change from hard kibble.