Holiday Hazards: Foods Your Pets Should Avoid

Merritt Milam | October 2, 2023

The holiday season will be here soon. It’s a time for joy, togetherness, and great food. But for pet owners, it’s also a time for increased vigilance. The festive foods that make our celebrations special can pose significant dangers to our furry friends. This month we’ll delve into the hazards of holiday foods and the importance of safeguarding your pets from these tempting but potentially harmful treats.


The holiday season is synonymous with chocolate, from cocoa-rich desserts to decorative confections. Chocolate is definitely one of the most prevalent pet toxins during the holidays. Theobromine and caffeine in chocolate can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and even death in dogs and cats. Ensure chocolate goodies are kept out of your pet’s reach.

Turkey and Poultry Bones

A centerpiece of many holiday feasts, turkey and other poultry often come with bones that can splinter when chewed, causing serious choking hazards or intestinal blockages. Dispose of bones securely and monitor your pet to prevent them from scavenging.

Onions and Garlic

Onions and garlic are key ingredients in numerous holiday dishes, including gravies and stuffings. These ingredients can cause red blood cell damage, leading to anemia in pets. Keep these two ingredients, as well as foods containing them, well out of your pet’s reach.


Holiday celebrations sometimes involve alcoholic beverages. Left unattended, curious pets may take a sip. Alcohol can cause intoxication, vomiting, diarrhea, and potentially fatal respiratory issues in pets. Make sure your drinks are out of reach. Keep people beverages close to your hand and out of lapping distance of furry friends.


Nuts, especially macadamia nuts, can cause severe reactions in dogs. Symptoms include muscle weakness, tremors, and vomiting. Be cautious when serving or storing dishes containing nuts.

Fruitcake and Raisin-Containing Treats

Fruitcake and some holiday treats contain raisins, which are toxic to dogs and can lead to kidney failure. Ensure your pets don’t have access to these desserts and be cautious when sharing fruit-based treats.

Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners like xylitol, commonly found in sugar-free baked goods and candies, can lead to severe hypoglycemia and liver failure in dogs. Double-check ingredient labels to ensure your pets aren’t exposed to these hidden dangers.

During the holiday season, our love for our pets should extend to their safety. Keeping in mind that many festive foods can be toxic or pose choking hazards to our furry family members and taking preventative steps to ensure their safety will keep the holidays joyful for all. Remember to secure your holiday meals, watch for dropped scraps, and inform your guests about potential hazards so they don’t share harmful foods with your pets. A little extra care can go a long way in protecting your pets from the dangers of holiday foods.