It’s a time of celebration and indulgence, and our dogs love to partake. But, how can we include them safely?
First, let’s take a look at some holiday foods you should keep your best furry friend away from:
- Cooked bones can splinter and cause severe gastrointestinal inflammation leading to hemorrhagic vomiting and diarrhea. They can also cause intestinal obstructions that require surgery.
- Scallions, chives, onions, and large amounts of garlic contain a compound known as N-propyl disulfide. This compound causes the breakdown of red blood cells leading to anemia in dogs. A toxic dose of scallions, chives, or onions is a ¼ cup per 20 lb dog. For garlic, it’s approximately 40 grams per lb of a dog’s body weight. So, a 20 lb dog would have to eat around 160 cloves of garlic for it to be toxic.
- Raisins and grapes can cause acute kidney failure in dogs. The toxic substance within them is still unknown. As little at 1 grape should be considered dangerous to your dog.
- Chocolate contains theobromine which dogs are unable to metabolize effectively. Ingestion can cause vomiting, diarrhea, panting, urinary incontinence, excessive drinking, hyperactivity, arrhythmias, tremors, and seizures. A toxic dose of chocolate depends on the type that is ingested—the darker the chocolate, the more dangerous. A toxic dose of milk chocolate is 0.5 oz per 1 lb of body weight. A toxic dose of dark chocolate (no milk) is 0.13 oz per 1 lb of body weight.
- Macadamia nuts can cause a dog to have vomiting, weakness, elevated body temperature, abnormal mental status, and sometimes paralysis. Although this all sounds very scary, the symptoms are often temporary and resolve without treatment. More severe symptoms may require supportive care in the hospital. The mechanism of the toxicity in macadamia nuts is unknown, but a toxic dose is no more than 5 grams per 1 lb of a dog’s body weight.
- Xylitol is an artificial sweetener found in many chewing gums, breath mints, mouthwash, peanut butter, baked goods, vitamins, dietary supplements, sugar-free desserts, and more. Xylitol will cause a rapid release of insulin from the pancreas of a dog, resulting in profound hypoglycemia and, in severe cases, liver failure. A toxic dose of xylitol, 34mg per 1 lb body weight can result in hypoglycemia. Greater than 227 mg per 1 lb of a dog’s body weight may lead to liver failure. The mechanism for this liver failure is still unknown.
- Bread dough (raw yeast-based) causes a dog to have symptoms of alcohol intoxication (mental dullness, disorientation, lethargy), metabolic acidosis, and stomach distention. As yeast replicates in the stomach, it promotes the expansion of the dough’s mass, as well as the production of ethanol. The distention of a dog’s stomach can become so severe that gastric lavage with cold water and even surgery may become necessary.
- Alcohol consumed by a dog can cause it to have vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, lack of coordination, depression, tremors, and sometimes, difficulty breathing. Severe cases can progress to coma. A dog ingesting alcohol happens more often than you may think. A party guest may unknowingly leave their drink within reach of your dog, or your dog responds to a spill before you can clean it up. Symptoms from the alcohol can occur within 15–30 minutes. Treatment includes intentional induction of vomiting, in-hospital supportive care, and in severe cases, mechanical ventilation.
- High-fat foods can cause intestinal irritation and, often, pancreatic inflammation in dogs. Examples of high-fat foods include fatty cuts of meat, baked goods, cheese, gravy, oils, butter, ice cream, etc. Symptoms of pancreatitis include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, lack of appetite, and lethargy. Treatment often includes in-hospital supportive care and a low-fat diet for a while.
So what treats CAN you give your dog for the holidays?
I recommend the following SAFE treats:
- Frozen peanut butter kong – be sure the peanut butter does not contain xylitol
- Himalayan yak chews
- Lick mats with peanut butter or mashed sweet potato
- Lean baked chicken or ground turkey
- Cooked sweet potato or plain canned pumpkin
- Plain string beans
- Apples (no core/seeds)
- Baked holiday cookies from your favorite boutique pet store
- Homemade baked doggie treats
- Raw frozen bones from your local raw food pet store
Sharing the Holiday Spirit (and Stress)
If we feel stress during the holiday season, so do our dogs—they match our energy. Our buddies deserve to be rewarded with some tasty holiday treats for sticking with us through this chaotic time. Let’s be sure to keep them safe in the process.
A good number to have on your fridge or in our phone in case of accidental toxin ingestion is the Pet Poison Helpline: (855) 764-7661.