The holiday season is all about gratitude, of course, but it's also about food — lots and lots of food. Your kitchen and dining room table will be overflowing with all sorts of tasty offerings, as tempting smells fill the air from early morning until late at night.
While entertaining your guests and seeing to your culinary responsibilities, don't forget to keep a watchful eye on your pets. It will be hard for them to resist the food from your feast, but some items can cause problems for our furry friends.
Here are some holiday foods that are hazards and others that are OK in moderation.
1. Turkey: Unless you're serving a vegetarian meal, the centerpiece of a holiday meal is often a turkey, and how could you let your four-legged buddy miss out? Just do so in moderation and watch what you serve, cautions the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. If you offer your pet a small bite, make sure it's well-cooked and has no bones. Raw or undercooked turkey can contain salmonella bacteria, which can make your pet sick. Never give your pet turkey bones.
2. Stuffing: Stuffing can be packed with ingredients like onions, garlic, raisins and grapes that can make your dog or cat sick. Anything with onions, garlic, chives, leeks or scallions should be off-limits to your pet. Onions and garlic can damage red blood cells and cause gastroenteritis. Cats and certain breeds of dogs (like the Akita and Shiba Inu) appear to be more sensitive, according to the Pet Poison Helpline. Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure.
3. Mashed potatoes: If you get to the potatoes before they're smothered in butter, milk and salt, you're in luck. It's OK to offer your pet a small dollop of plain cooked spuds.
4. Sweet potatoes: These orange tubers are a healthy alternative to white potatoes, as long as you get them to your pet before they're smothered in marshmallows, butter or brown sugar. A small, plain cooked bite is OK.
5. Gravy: Skip this rich addition to your pet's meal. If you want to liven up a doggy or kitty dinner, add a dash of low-sodium chicken broth instead.
6. Green beans: These tasty green veggies are a healthy treat year-round. They're full of vitamins and low in calories. Just be sure to avoid any extra toppings like melted butter, garlic or fried onions.
7. Carrots: These veggies are good for your pet, served cooked or raw. They're high in fiber and vitamins and low in calories. Plus crunching on raw carrots can be good for a dog's teeth. Just make sure you don't feed them to your pet if the carrots are swimming in a sugary glaze.
8. Cranberry sauce: Check what's in your classic holiday concoction. Some recipes are high in sugar or have alcohol, neither of which is good for pets. Other recipes include grapes, raisins or currants, points out the American Kennel Club, which are toxic to cats and dogs. Feeding a small bite of plain cranberry sauce is probably OK, but your pet may not even like it. Some critters turn up their nose at the tart taste.
9. Pumpkin pie: Most pet owners know plain, canned pumpkin is a good thing to help with irregular digestion, but that doesn't mean pumpkin pie has the same benefits. This tasty holiday mainstay has lots of sugar and spices that aren't necessary or beneficial for your pet. Plus, the whipped cream or topping may be too rich for dogs and hard to digest for lactose-intolerant cats, says Vetstreet. If you want your BFF to get a taste of the season, offer a scoop of plain, canned pumpkin instead.
10. Chocolate: Theobromine is an alkaloid in chocolate that's chemically similar to caffeine, and it's potentially deadly for dogs. Dogs metabolize theobromine more slowly than humans do, and can get dangerously sick from eating too much chocolate. This is a widely known risk, but it still spikes around certain holidays, according to a study published in Vet Record. Christmas and Easter pose especially high chocolate danger for dogs, the study found, with the risk of poisoning nearly five times higher than at non-holiday times of year. (Chocolate is toxic for cats, too, although they're generally less prone to eat large amounts of it.)
Watch where you put things. You probably have a lot more going on in the kitchen than usual. Don't leave garbage bags unattended or food within reach, tempting counter surfers.
Beware of bread dough. If you're making homemade bread, keep it out of your pet's reach. When a dog or cat eats raw yeast bread dough, the unbaked dough expands in a warm, moist stomach, as the sugars are converted to carbon dioxide gas and alcohol. The result is bloat and alcohol poisoning, which can be a life-threatening emergency.
Keep an eye on alcohol. Don't leave out cups of spiked beverages for your pet to lap up, but also remember that there's alcohol in some other items like fruitcake. Just a small amount of alcohol (by human standards) can be toxic for pets.
Editor's note: This story has been updated since it was first published in November 2017.