Holiday Foods That Could Harm Your Pet | NASC

Holiday Foods That Could Harm Your Pet

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 savory mashed potatoes and gravy, tender cuts of meat, and sweet holiday treats you’ve got to be mindful of foods that could be harmful to your furry friends. Continue reading to learn which foods to avoid sharing, and to see a list of safe holiday foods your pet can enjoy.


We all know that alcohol poisoning is a human reality. But did you know that alcohol is even more toxic to pets than people? Because of their smaller size and lack of tolerance, sharing your adult beverage could land you at the emergency veterinarian. You should avoid giving your pet any alcohol at all, but if they do somehow gain access, watch closely for staggering and decreased reflexes followed by a slowing respiratory rate. This means your pet is in trouble and may need veterinary intervention. The best way to protect your pets is for you and your guests to keep drinks well out of reach of curious noses.

Various Types of Nuts

Many holiday desserts include or are topped with various kinds of nuts. While they may be great for us to snack on, most nuts are very fatty and can cause pancreatitis if your pet has too many. Pancreatitis is a painful condition that can result in vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and refusal to eat or drink, often leading to dehydration and the need for a trip to the veterinarian. Pets also have difficulty digesting nuts which can result in an intestinal obstruction. Additionally, macadamias and pistachios in particular reportedly contain an unknown toxin that might result in your furry friend developing neurological issues.


Grapes, and therefore raisins, are toxic to cats and dogs. If you’re putting out a fruit and cheese plate for your guests to munch on, or plan to include raisins in your baked goods, be sure Fluffy and Fido don’t sneak a bite!


This popular spice commonly used to season pumpkin pie, sweet potatoes, and other holiday goodies should never be fed to your pets. Nutmeg, which has mild hallucinogenic properties, can cause seizures, tremors, and central nervous system problems.


While the sugar in candy isn’t great for dogs or cats, the sweetener xylitol can be deadly. Xylitol is often used as a sugar substitute, and even very small amounts can lead to liver failure. So, keep sweets of all kinds away from your pets. It’s important to note that in addition to candy, xylitol can also be found in sugarless gum and mints, peanut butter, barbecue sauce, ketchup, pancake syrup and toothpaste.


Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, both of which are toxic in high amounts to cats and dogs. Different forms of chocolate contain more or less of these substances, with dry cocoa powder and dark chocolates having the most, and white chocolate having the least. To avoid a trip to the emergency vet be sure to keep your chocolate stored in a safe place.

Dairy Products

Milk, cream, cheese, butter, and raw eggs can also be bad for dogs and cats. They can cause diarrhea and other digestive disturbances as well as allergic reactions. So, leave the dairy-laden foods off their plate this holiday season.

Poultry Bones and Scraps

No matter how you cook your Thanksgiving turkey the bones dehydrate and become brittle. If your pet chews them they can splinter and crack, causing damage to their teeth and tongues. These sharp pieces are also a danger if swallowed, as they can puncture the throat, stomach and intestines or even cause blockages. Additionally, poultry skin is high in fat and difficult for your furry friend to digest, which could lead to pancreatitis. To prevent accidents and eliminate temptation, dispose of any bones or scraps once the turkey is carved and clear the table when you’ve finished eating.

Ham & Bacon

Just like poultry, holiday hams and bacon are high in fat and difficult for pets to digest. Consuming these foods in excess can cause pancreatitis. No special treat is worth taking that risk.

Safe Holiday Foods

You may be wondering what holiday foods ARE safe for pets. Below is a list of “people” foods you can share with your pet for a special holiday treat:

  •   Fully-cooked turkey breast with skin removed
  •   Cooked sweet potatoes (minus any additional ingredients)
  •   Pumpkin purée (not pie filling)
  •   Carrots, peas, green beans and broccoli (steamed or raw)
  •   Bananas and apples

These few foods are all good choices and not just during the holidays. They are highly nutritious and will allow your furry family member to participate in the holiday feast while remaining happy and healthy!

Your Pets are our Priority!

At the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC), our number one priority is to promote the health and wellbeing of your pets. That is why we created the NASC audit program and the Quality Seal, which helps you identify animal health and nutritional supplements that come from responsible suppliers committed to producing the highest quality, most consistent products available. Visit our website to learn more and to see a list of NASC members that have earned the Quality Seal.