Good food and fun encompass most holidays. It is only natural to want to share all those goodies with your pet. Don’t do it! There are a number of foods eaten on holidays that can be toxic and dangerous to your pets. I would hope the most obvious is to not give your pet anything containing alcohol. Alcoholic beverages can cause serious damage to your pet, including respiratory distress, muscle tremors, coma and death.

     COOKED bones can be very dangerous to your pet and can cause obstruction or perforation of the throat, stomach or intestines. Unbaked dough can be a serious problem to your pet. Do not be tempted to share a piece of uncooked dough while baking. Dough that contains yeast, if ingested, will rise and expand in their stomach, and could result in bloating and stomach rupture. Nutmeg is a spice used frequently during holidays.

     Nutmeg can be toxic to pets and can result in stomach pain, hallucinations and seizures. Nuts are high in fats and calories and could result in pancreatitis in many cases. Some nuts are also covered with salt, spices or cocoa, which can raise blood pressure or cause gastrointestinal upset. Almonds, for example, are high in fat and cannot be properly digested. This can result in pancreatitis and, in small animals, possible obstruction. Pistachios are a serious choking hazard and can cause vomiting, diarrhea and gastrointestinal distress. Pecans can produce mycotoxins. If moldy, pecans can cause neurologic signs such as tremors and seizures and cause damage to the nervous system. Walnuts, if moldy, can cause vomiting, tremors and seizures. Macadamia nuts are very dangerous to dogs. Symptoms include vomiting, ataxia, weakness, depression, hyperthermia and paralysis. Macadamia nuts have been shown to cause paralysis 24-48 hours after ingestion.

      So much of many holiday treats include chocolate. Chocolate, however, can be seriously toxic to pets. Chocolate contains methylxanthines such as theobromine and caffeine. Baking chocolate is the worst for pets, followed by semisweet chocolate, dark chocolate and then milk chocolate. The seriousness of the toxicity depends on the type and amount ingested. Signs of chocolate toxicity include vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, tremors, seizures, increased heart rate and abnormal heart rhythms. Onions, chives, leeks and scallions can be a very serious problem. Ingestion buy our dog can cause their red blood cells to burst. The signs seen are dependent on the amount ingested. Signs of toxicity include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, decreased appetite, weakness, increased heart rate, increased respiratory rate and effort, pale mucous membranes and red colored urine.

        Grapes and raisins can cause acute kidney failure in your dog. Vomiting is usually the first sign seen and can occur within 24 hours of ingestion. Other signs include lethargy, nausea, abdominal pain, excessive thirst and excessive urination. As the toxicity continues, the kidneys fail and shut down, and the pet cannot produce urine any longer. Blood pressure goes up and coma results. Candy can be very toxic to dogs. Most candy can contain xylitol, a sugar substitute. It is found in mints, sugar free gums, chewable vitamins, candy, some baking products, and, most importantly, peanut butter.

        Lots of holiday goodies contain these ingredients, so be very vigilant of what your pet is exposed to. Xylitol causes hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), decrease in platelets, liver necrosis, internal bleeding and often death. If you suspect your pet may have ingested any of the above toxic substances, please call the Pet Poison Hotline, a 24/7 animal poison control center, at 1-800-213-6680.

Dr. Rose DiLeva is owner and president of Animal Wellness Center in Chadds Ford, Pa. She can be reached at 610-558-1616 or

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