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Common Holiday Foods That Pets Shouldn’t Have

November 15 2016

With the holidays quickly approaching, you’re likely to be cooking up a lot of delicious meals for you and your family. Unfortunately, many of our holiday foods aren’t safe for our animal companions! Here, your McHenry, IL veterinarian tells you about some of the most common offenders:


Onions, as well as other members of the Allium family like garlic, shallots, leeks, and chives, are very dangerous for pets. These foods have been known to cause pets’ red blood cells to burst, resulting in a condition known as hemolytic anemia. Associated symptoms include lethargy, pale gums, racing heart rate, vomiting and diarrhea, collapse, and even death if treatment isn’t prompt. Never allow your dog or cat to ingest onions or related foods.

Grapes and Raisins

It’s not known for sure why grapes and raisins cause poisoning in some pets, but toxicity occurs nonetheless. It also seems that some pets can tolerate grapes and raisins without incident; that doesn’t mean it’s worth the risk! Dogs are the most commonly diagnosed pets, but this may simply be due to their indiscriminate tastes. If you’re going to be serving grapes or their dried counterparts during your holiday festivities, make sure pets don’t have an opportunity to chow down.

Chocolate and Candy

Chocolate of all types contains theobromine and caffeine, chemicals that don’t agree with our animal friends. Candies, certain varieties of gum, and even some baked pastry items are sweetened with xylitol, an artificial sugar substitute that is highly toxic to pets. Keep any and all treats out of reach of your pet, and keep a close eye on Fido or Fluffy while you’re serving dessert.


As much as your pooch might love a ham or turkey bone during the holidays, it’s safest to exercise some restraint. Bones, both cooked and raw, can splinter apart dangerously, creating sharp shards that could lacerate a pet’s mouth or stomach. Bones can also come apart in chunks, presenting a choking hazard. If your pet wants something to gnaw on, offer a rawhide treat or a toy instead.


Will your holiday festivities include alcoholic beverages? Keep in mind that alcohol in any form can do serious damage to our pets—this goes for liquor, beer, wine, champagne, and even foods cooked with alcohol.

Call your McHenry, IL animal hospital for more tips on holiday pet safety. We wish you a safe and happy holiday season!