What not to feed pets this holiday season

December 22, 2018 GMT

With the exception of those New Year’s fireworks, what’s not to love about the holidays for cats and dogs? There’s all those ornaments to swipe off the Christmas tree, scraps of wrapping paper to bat around and leftovers from Christmas dinners.

However, some foods served at holiday gatherings should make you keep a closer eye on the kids slipping scraps under the table, or that one relative who lets the dog lick their plate clean when they’re done. Christmas dinners can be delicious for people, but some foods, even in small amounts, could send you on an unexpected emergency trip to the vet.

“The biggest thing we see during the holiday season is pancreatitis,” said Kate Rice, a licensed veterinary specialist at Veterinary Services of Aiken. “That’s when the pancreas is inflamed, usually due to dietary issues.”

Rice said this usually happens because people will feed their dogs bones and pieces of rich, fatty, salty meat, which can cause a flare up of the pancreas.

“It can be mild or it can be extreme,” Rice said. “They can even be hospitalized for a couple of days. You just have to be really mindful of the types of foods you feed your pets during the holidays.”

Rice said it’s a good idea to put stockings with chocolate up high, and to be aware of “counter surfing” pets.

Chocolate, of course, is poisonous to dogs and cats, and some fruits like cherries and grapes are toxic to them.

Rice said to also examine any festive plants in the house in case cats or dogs decide to munch on them. Some, like poinsettias, are also poisonous.

Anyone observing a war between their cats and the Christmas tree should remove any tinsel from the branches. Veterinary Services staff have seen cases of cats eating tinsel and have stomach problems as a result.

Veterinary Services of Aiken can be reached at 803-648-5489.