The holiday season is in full swing and merriment is all around. There are parties, family members dropping in, friends stopping by, and so many other reasons to celebrate. You know what happens when people get together, don’t you? Food happens, of course. Oh, so much food.
Your pets love this because it means endless snacking opportunities for them. Even if you’re not handing goodies under the dinner table to your dog or cat, your Uncle Jack or Cousin Mirabelle might be doing it. That’s why this time of year, it is critical to keep a sharp eye on what your furry friends are eating and drinking.
A wide variety of holiday treats are downright toxic and could harm or kill your pets. Here are some of the worst offenders:
1. Grapes, Raisins and Currants
Surprised? Grapes, raisins and currants are a conundrum, because some cats and dogs will eat them and experience no ill effect, while others develop kidney failure and sometimes die. No one has determined why all pets don’t have the same reaction. However, the ones who react badly become very ill.
Grape or raisin toxicosis will typically cause vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea, dehydration and decreased urination. Even pets that survive an initial bout of toxicosis can have persistent kidney disease afterward. Truly, it’s not worth the risk. Keep grapes and raisins away from your dog or cat — even as an ingredient in cookies, cereals, chicken salads and so on.
2. Onions, Garlic and Chives
We’re lumping these items together on this list because, as tasty ingredients, they end up in so many festive dishes. Think about it. Onions, garlic and chives end up in stuffing, gravies, pizza, pasta dishes, side dishes, soups, chips, dips and even baby food.
Don’t forget that we’re also talking about the powdered forms you use in your cooking. Onion powder, garlic powder, dried chives, dehydrated onions — it’s all dangerous. In fact, these forms can be even worse because they are so much more concentrated. Onions, by the way, include anything in the “onion family” such as shallots and scallions.
Cats and dogs suffer equally here. A compound in these foods called “thiosulphate” damages pets’ red blood cells. Dogs and cats can develop anemia several days after eating any of these foods, though onions seem to be the biggest threat overall. Problems can even develop over time, after eating small doses regularly. Japanese breeds of dogs, such as the Akita and Shiba Inu, are particularly vulnerable. Watch for orange- or red-tinged urine and lethargic behavior.
3. Wine, Beer and Basically All Alcoholic Beverages
Your cousin Zippy might think it’s a royal hoot to give your dog enough beer on New Year’s Eve to make him tipsy like everyone else at the party. Don’t let him do it. What the alcohol is doing to your dog is no laughing matter. For example, the hops in beer are poisonous to your dog. Similarly, avoid letting your dog clean up that spilled wine on the kitchen floor. The grapes and alcohol content are toxic for him.
Cats likewise shouldn’t imbibe. Keep them away from lapping at drinks they might find attractive because of their dairy content — spiked egg nog, White Russians, that sort of thing. Two measly teaspoons of whiskey can put a 5-pound cat into a coma. A third teaspoon can kill her.
Drinking any alcoholic beverages can result in extreme fever leading to multiple organ system failure. The worst case scenario here is coma and death. Truly not so funny, is it? Watch for restlessness, excessive panting, tremors and seizures.
Yes, you know this already, but chocolate must be part of this list. Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, which are methylxanthines. Methylxanthines are toxic to dogs and cats. The darker the chocolate, the more harmful it is.
You don’t want a real life “death by chocolate.” Keep it well away from pets. If you suspect your dog or cat has eaten chocolate and is showing symptoms like panting, vomiting, or diarrhea, get to the vet immediately. Heart and nervous system damage may otherwise result.
Read more: alcohol, avocado, beer, cats, chocolate, coffee, dogs, garlic, grapes, holiday food, kidney failure in cats, mushrooms, nuts, onions, pet food, pet poisoning, pets, pizza, raisins, toxic food, veterinarian, wine
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