What NOT to Feed Your Pet This Thanksgiving | University Animal Hospital NYC

I grew up in a household where human food was regularly offered to the family dog. Passing a scrap of food to the family dog isn’t the most absurd thing for any pet owner to have considered at one time or another. My mom used to let our dog lick the plates clean after many of our family dinners. Though she always told us not to give our dog chocolate (something she’d heard from her veterinarian) she was oblivious to some of the other foods that are quite toxic for our fuzzy children if consumed. I distinctly recall her feeding our dog Corky grapes on several occasions. She was completely oblivious to the damage that can cause. Thankfully, Corky still lived a long and healthy life despite his dietary missteps. Fred (the one with the horrendous teeth, remember?) has to settle for getting the occasional bit of boiled chicken mixed in with this dry food.

With Thanksgiving approaching I thought it would be a good idea to compile a list of foods and substances you should definitely not be feeding your pets. With the gatherings that tend to happen around holidays we often find our homes flooded with visitors and the family pets have many opportunities to beg their way into receiving sneaky treats from unknowing relatives. Before you let Aunt Helen pass the remaining bite of her raisin-filled banana bread to your precious pooch consider reminding your guests what not to gift your fuzzy child. Should you ever be worried that your pet has consumed something they should not have call Animal Poison Control immediately.

Alcohol is a toxic substance and can cause an assortment of health issues for your pets. Symptoms of ingestion include vomiting, diarrhea, damage to the central nervous system, tremors or even death.

Avocado contains an ingredient that can cause vomiting and diarrhea.

Caffeine, Chocolate and Coffee all contain methylxanthines, found in cacao seeds. If you pet ingests this it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, panting, abnormal heart rhythm, seizures, excessive thirst/urination and death. Darker chocolate is worse than milk chocolate. Baking chocolate is easily the worst. White chocolate has the lowest level of methylxantines.

Citrus. The stems, leaves, peels, seeds and fruit of various citrus plants contain citric acid and essential oils can cause irritation and depression to the central nervous system and stomach upsets.

Coconut, coconut oil and coconut water can cause upset stomach and diarrhea.

Grapes/Raisins can cause kidney failure.

Macadamia nuts can cause vomiting, tremors, weakness and depression in dogs. Almonds, pecans and walnuts contain high amounts of oils and fats can cause vomiting and diarrhea and pancreatitis in pets.

Dairy can cause issues because pets lack significant amounts of lactase (an enzyme that breaks down lactose). Diarrhea and digestive upset can occur.

Onions, Chives and Garlic cause gastrointestinal irritation and can lead to red blood cell damage. While cats are more susceptible dogs can be at risk if large amounts are consumed.

Undercooked/Raw Meat and eggs contain bacteria that can be harmful to pets if consumed.

Bones can cause pets to choke or sustain internal injuries if bone splinters are lodged in your pet’s digestive tract.

Salt and Snack Foods can result in excessive thirst/urination or even sodium ion poisoning. Symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhea, elevated temperature, tremors, depression, seizures and death. This means no potato chips, popcorn or pretzels.

Xylitol, a sweetener used in many products (candy, gum and toothpaste) can cause insulin release which can lead to liver failure.

While most people would obviously not jump at giving many of these foods to their pets there are a handful mentioned above that many wouldn’t think twice about. So think twice about it. Think a few dozen times. Your dog can be happy and healthy with the occasional dog treat and their regular diet. A hug or some physical affection is a much better way to show your love than with food, anyway.

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