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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – In a matter of days, families will be gathering around the dinner table to celebrate the holidays.

In addition to extended families, there might be a four-legged guest or two also hoping for a plate.

However, veterinarians at BluePearl say there are certain foods you should avoid giving your furry friends.

“It is easy for unattended pets to get into some dangerous holiday treats as people get busy spending time with family and friends,” said Lindsey E. Bullen, DVM, Diplomate ACVN, Board Certified Veterinary Nutritionist, BluePearl in Cary, NC. “While we want our pets to enjoy the holidays with us, we must be cautious when giving our furry companions certain foods. Candies, cookies, or pies containing grapes, coffee, chocolate, nuts, walnuts, or xylitol, a common sugar substitute used in hundreds of sugar-free candies and pastries, can be particularly dangerous if ingested by pets.” 

BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital sees approximately an 372% increase in chocolate-related emergency visits every Christmas Eve.

To keep your pets out of the emergency room, veterinarians say you should avoid feeding them these foods:

  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Bones or fatty meats, which can cause pancreatitis
  • Grapes
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Nuts
  • Yeast dough, which can release toxic levels of ethanol in their bloodstream.
  • Food cooked with nutmeg
  • Xylitol.

If you want your pets to enjoy an extra treat around the holidays, there are some foods you can let them sample:

  • Turkey meat
  • Salmon without seasoning, bones, and non-smoked
  • Lamb meat without bones or fat
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Green beans
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Parsnips
  • Carrots
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Plain, low-fat yogurt (but make sure xylitol is not an ingredient.)

“Before feeding your pet any human foods, remember to always check with your veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist. Every pet is different so what may be okay for one may not be okay for another,” said Dr. Lindsey Bullen. “As a general rule, and to reduce any risk of illness, avoid giving pets ‘Santa’s’ cookies or candy canes, which can contain xylitol, a sugar substitute that is highly toxic to dogs. It is also important to keep pets with chronic illnesses or diseases on their prescribed diet, as any deviation could result in sickness and a trip to the ER.”