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dog eating chocolate food

Did you know that the holiday season represents one of the most hazardous times in terms of feeding your pet? From food, drinks and candy wrappers left lying around to leftovers that are intentionally shared with the animals in your family, unless you are educated on holiday food hazards, you could be putting the health and even life of your pets at risk.

Why is the holiday season such high risk in terms of food hazards?

There are several reasons why the holiday season is a high-risk time for your pet’s digestive system. One of the primary problems is that, as caring and loving owners, we often don’t realise or simply forget that our pets just can’t indulge in the same foods that we can. While it may be tempting to share your leftover meat, pie or potatoes with your furry friend, many of our favorite foods contain ingredients that are toxic to our pets. Even just a little of the wrong meal could make your pet sick very quickly.

Another hazard of the holiday season is distraction. We are often so busy talking and enjoying ourselves when we are meeting with friends that we don’t pay as much attention as we should to what we are doing. This means that plates of food, cups of drink, tin foil and other food wrappers may be left within reach of our pets. Unfortunately, animals rarely worry about what they should or shouldn’t eat and instead will happily chow down on anything that looks or smells delicious. Not only does it put her at risk of swallowing something that is poisonous to her, but some items can cause choking or blockages in her digestive system, both of which are life-threatening conditions.

What holiday foods should my pet avoid?

There are a number of foods and beverages that are particularly popular during the holiday season that you should ensure stay well out of reach of your pet. These include:

- Alcohol (in any form)

- Baked goods

- Blue cheese

- Chives

- Chocolate

- Coffee or coffee-based products

- Corn on the cob

- Desserts containing the artificial sweetener, Xylitol

- Energy drinks

- Garlic

- Grapes and raisins

- Ham

- Macadamia nuts

- Mashed potato (varieties that contain milk or seasoning)

- Meat that is fatty or contains bones

- Onions

- Pecan pie

- Pumpkin pie

- Skin of meat

- Spices

- Stuffing

- Sugar-free candy

- Unbaked bread dough

Watch your portion sizes

We all like to overindulge from time to time, and this is especially true during the holiday season when there are treats available in abundance. While there is little harm in giving your pet a few treats now and again, it is very easy to overfeed an animal. Sometimes even the most experienced and responsible owners don’t realise that what may seem like a small amount of food to us, is actually the equivalent of something much bigger and much more calorific. For example, one small cube of feed for a chihuahua is the same as an average human being eating two donuts!

Pet obesity

It is important for you to watch how much you are feeding your pet over the holiday season, as well as what you are feeding him, otherwise he could very quickly put on weight. Pet obesity is a serious problem, and the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimate that more than 50% of cats and dogs in the United States are overweight or obese.

Being overweight or obese puts your pet at risk of developing a number of chronic or serious health issues, which include:

- Diabetes

- High blood pressure

- Heart disease

- Respiratory disease

- Kidney problems

- Osteoarthritis

- Compromised immune system

Many of these conditions require effective management, meaning regular visits to our veterinarian and ongoing medications – both of which can be time-consuming and costly.

Therefore, this festive season, try and keep a close on how many treats you are feeding and if you do share human food, ensure it is high protein, low fat and low carbohydrate.

Happy Holidays!

Make sure that this festive season is enjoyable for both you and your pet, by taking steps to keep him safe from potential food hazards. For further advice on what foods are suitable to feed your pet this holiday, or on pet obesity, contact and make an appointment with our veterinarian.


Providing the very best in veterinary care, and the ability to establish innovated programs.


Parkland Animal Clinic & Big Bear Pet Lodge​​​​​​​
8017 N. University Dr
Parkland, FL 33067

Fax: 954-757-3990
EMAIL US: Parklandanimalclinic@gmail.com