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ANIMALS

7 Holiday Foods That Are Dangerous to Pets

Jennifer Fabiano
Keep your pets away from the hot chocolate this holiday season.
Keep your pets away from the hot chocolate this holiday season. / Kshavratskaya/iStock via Getty Images
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One of the best parts of the holiday season is the menu of indulgent food and drinks that comes along with it. But while you enjoy that cup of spiked hot cocoa, you’ve got to be careful your dog or cat doesn’t nab a lick. Here are seven holiday treats that are dangerous for your pets, according to Vetstreet.

1. Coffee

Any coffee lover will agree that there’s nothing quite like an after-dinner cup of joe on a cold night. But dogs, cats, and other pets will have to sit this tradition out. Caffeine can prompt seizures and abnormal heart rhythms in pets, and can sometimes be fatal. Other caffeinated drinks, such as soda or tea, should also be kept away from your four-legged family members.

2. Bread Dough

Holiday bakers have to be careful of unbaked bread dough as it can expand in animal stomachs if ingested. The growth of the dough's yeast in a dog's stomach can even cause symptoms of inebriation. If you suspect your pup has noshed on any unbaked dough, call your vet as soon as possible.

3. Chocolate

A little chocolate never hurt anybody, right? Wrong. The sweet treat can cause seizures and even be fatal to pets. Darker chocolate, such as the baker’s chocolate people often put in holiday desserts, is more toxic to pets than milk or white chocolate. The toxic ingredients include caffeine and theobromine, a chemical found in the cacao plant.

4. Raisins

Grapes, and therefore raisins, are toxic to cats and dogs. If you're putting out a wine and cheese plate to go along with some holiday champagne, or plan to include raisins in your baked goods, be sure Fluffy and Fido can't sneak a bite.

5. Macadamia nuts

Macadamia nuts, which are a common ingredient in holiday cookies and are often served as a standalone appetizer, can be toxic to dogs. While poisoning might not always be easy to detect in a pet, clinical warning signs include depression, weakness, vomiting, tremors, joint stiffness, and lack of coordination.

6. Onions

Onions add delicious flavor to a lot of holiday side dishes and main courses. But for cats and dogs, they—along with chives, leeks, and garlic—can cause anemia, gastrointestinal issues, an increased heart rate, and pale gums.

7. Alcohol

Because they're typically smaller than people, pets don't need to take a lot of alcohol to get dangerously sick. Keep those wine glasses far out of reach of all pets to avoid any issues. Well, maybe not any issue: We can’t promise that this will stop you from getting tipsy at a holiday party this year.

A version of this story originally ran in 2018; it has been updated for 2021.

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