Certain holiday foods harmful for pets

By LEANN BURKE
lburke@dcherald.com

It’s a familiar scene for many pet owners. The family sits down for a holiday meal, and the dog of the house sets up nearby, eager to catch table scraps. Local pet dietitian, groomer and trainer Alicen Ingle — owner of Pet-Agree Professional Pet Services in Jasper — advises pet owners to think twice before letting that scene play out to a tasty end for the pup.

Many of the foods people enjoy during the holidays are harmful for pets, Ingle said. Sudden changes to pets’ regular diets can cause upset stomachs, diarrhea and vomiting.

“(That’s) not a good look when you’re trying to impress your guests with your master chef skills,” Ingle said.

Some of the biggest no-nos are fatty meats such as pork, turkey skins and barbecue scraps. Our pets’ digestive systems simply aren’t built for the high-fat meats, Ingle said.

Pretty much anything on the dessert table is out, too. Chocolate causes dogs’ hearts to race and can lead to seizures. Grapes, raisins and sultanas — popular ingredients in Christmas pudding — are also poisonous to dogs. Macadamia nuts will also hurt your dog.

Pet owners should also be aware of any ingredients they add to foods that would normally be safe for pets. Pumpkin, sweet potatoes and potatoes are all foods dogs can usually eat, but once they’re doctored up for the holiday feast, they become harmful. That’s because of the spices, Ingle said. Many holiday spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg affect pets differently than people. In a pet’s system, human’s favorite seasonings can cause anemia, high blood pressure and a dangerously rapid heartbeat.

“Despite the temptation to share with your pet, it’s important to stick to their normal diet,” Ingle said.

For cat owners, Ingle suggests the added precaution of keeping felines away from flower arrangements, especially if lilies are part of the bouquet.

“Lilies are highly toxic to cats,” Ingle said. “Even small amounts, such as two to three petals or leaves, the pollen or the water from the vase.”

Some of Ingle’s other suggestions for pets during the holidays: give them somewhere to escape the crowd and clean up gift wrapping and bows.

Although pet owners need to be vigilant with their pets’ involvement in holiday gatherings, Ingle said make sure to include the furry family.

“They get excited when you get excited,” she said. “After all, they are part of the family.”




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