Holiday Hazards

jackie with NY Vinny and Princess ToolipThe holidays have finally arrived. Especially at this time of year, a lot of us want to include our furry family members in our holiday festivities.  But while including them in the holiday celebration is ok, including them in the holiday meal can cause them harm or worse. There are many ingredients we use automatically that while flavorful and enticing, can be harmful or fatal to your dog.  Since holiday recipes can vary widely depending on whether Great Aunt Mable or Cousin Albert once removed makes them, it’s best to make it a standard rule not feed your dog any prepared dishes. 

are you going to eat that 

Ask people what foods they think are harmful to their dogs and most will say chocolate.  Chocolate indeed is harmful to your pet but there is a long list of other foods/ingredients that are just as harmful if not more so than chocolate. Here are some of the more standard ones you may encounter over the holidays.


Pumpkin Pie

Although pumpkin itself is good for dogs, pumpkin pie has sugar, and other spices that can cause upset stomachs and diarrhea.

Pecan Pie

While also high in sugar, the nuts themselves contain the added risk of being swallowed whole.  This can lead to an intestinal blockage.  Nuts are not something easily digested and can become lodged in the intestines, which could require emergency surgery.


Even a small amount of alcohol can cause vomiting, weakness and seizures.

Bread & Plumb Pudding

Both of these decadent holiday desserts are often made with raisins, which can cause severe and potentially fatal kidney failure in dogs. The high fat and sugar content can cause upset stomachs leading to diarrhea and pancreatitis.

dog and hamHam

Ham and pork products are very high in fat and sodium.  High fat foods cause the pancreas to overreact which is terribly painful.            

Turkey Bones

Cooked bones of any type should never be given to your dog. Cooking causes the bones to become brittle and possibly splinter.  It isn’t hard to imagine what these shards of splintered bone can do to your friend’s stomach or intestines.

Mashed Potatoes

While it is safe to give your dog potatoes, mashed potatoes may not be.  Along with lots of butter and milk, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea, Great Aunt Mable’s recipe may call for onion powder or garlic.  Even in powdered/dehydrated form, both onion and garlic are VERY toxic to pets.


Like mashed potatoes, stuffing is often made with onions, or garlic.  So again, it is another item to leave off your pets holiday plate, or sneak under the table.

Salads with Grapes or Raisins

Be sure to keep all salads that may contain grapes or raisins away from your dog.  Severe, irreversible and sometimes fatal kidney failure are the results of your dog snacking on these yummy little orbs.

2 dogs under mistletoeFood and tantalizing ingredients aren’t the only things that can harm your pets during the holiday season.  There are several plants we use for decoration that can pose varying threats to your pets.


Poinsettias are quite possibly one of the most prevalent plants around during the holidays.  Thankfully they are very appealing taste wise to your pets and are only mildly toxic.  However, if your cat or dog decides to take a nibble, it may cause them to drool, vomit or have diarrhea.  If they manage to get some of the sap on their skin, it can cause redness and itching.  Medical attention is rarely necessary


The berries and leaves of the Holly plant are also mildly toxic to your pets.  They can however cause vomiting, diarrhea and even depression if ingested. 


Mistletoe on the other hand is quite toxic.  A very small amount of mistletoe ingested by your pet can cause a sudden drop in blood pressure, breathing problems and even hallucinations.  If they manage to eat a large amount, it can cause seizures and even death.  Call your vet immediately if you suspect your pet has been into the mistletoe.


Amaryllis is a member of the lily family.  Though striking, if any part of the amaryllis plant is ingested, an immediate trip to your vet is needed.   Increased salivation, vomiting, a drop in blood pressure, lethargy, tremors and respiratory problems.

dog next to christmas treeChristmas Tree

Your Christmas tree pose several hazards aside from the various ornaments and lights that adorn it.  Fir trees produce oils that can irritate your dog’s mouth and stomach, which can cause drooling and vomiting.  Should your pet decide the needles are indeed a delicacy, they could possibly puncture their gastrointestinal tract.  Let’s not forget the water the tree is standing in.  Over a number of days, it is a great place to grow and harbor bacteria.


Have a safe and wonderful holiday season!!


~ Jackie Pinson