One of the best parts of the holiday season is the food! Turkey and ham and pies and peppermint bark and sweet potato casserole… the list goes on! But whether you accidentally drop something while you’re baking or you’re snuggling with your pet and you want to give them a holiday treat, it’s important to know what you can and can’t feed your pet. Some things that are perfectly fine for a human to ingest can make an animal very sick – even kill them. 

That’s why we pulled together this list of holiday treats that you should keep away from your pets at all costs this holiday season! 

Chicken and Turkey Bones

This also goes for all poultry – goose, quail, squab, etc. Poultry bones are hollow and splinter easily. And cooking dehydrates them and makes them even more brittle. If your pet eats poultry bones, they can splinter and puncture their intestines or stomach. So make sure to keep your roast chicken out of reach – push it back on the counter – and dispose of the carcass as soon as you’ve finished eating to discourage table-surfing. 

Turkey Skin

Turkey skin is also unsafe for your pets. Poultry skin is extremely high in fat which is difficult for your pet to digest. Too much high-fat food can cause pancreatitis, which is a very painful disease that can lead to vomiting, weakness, and diarrhea. A “special treat” just isn’t worth the risk! So toss it in the trash, no matter how sweetly that puppy is begging. 


Whether you spill the red wine, or your teenage nephew thought it would be funny to get the dog drunk, make it clear to your family that alcohol is toxic to pets. They are a tenth of your size and their livers have not developed to process it. If you suspect your pet has ingested alcohol, watch for these signs and symptoms:

  • Staggering
  • Decreased reflexes
  • Slowing respiratory rate
  • Seizures 
  • Cardiac arrest

Avoid a trip to the veterinary emergency room and keep alcoholic beverages well out of reach. 

Onions and Garlic

Onions and garlic both contain thiosulphate. This compound can cause red blood cells to burst in cats and dogs both which can lead to hemolytic anemia. Garlic is usually a small enough quantity that it’s a small danger, but onions carry high amounts of thiosulphate and if your pet eats enough they can go into toxic shock. Overdose of onions can cause:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea


Chocolate is especially dangerous for pets because it contains both theobromine and caffeine, both of which are toxic to dogs and cats. White chocolate has the least of these substances. Dry cocoa powder has the most. Dogs and cats both have excellent noses, so it’s not enough to hide them – you need to make sure your chocolate is placed out of reach or behind closed doors. 


This one surprises a lot of people – especially when we’ve been inundated with images of cats lapping up creme and milk. But on top of milk being fatty (which can cause pancreatitis as we mentioned previously), our pets lack lactase in their systems. Lactase is the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk. This is common in many humans as well – it’s what causes lactose intolerance. Just think of your pets as naturally lactose intolerant. High doses of milk and dairy products can cause diarrhea and digestive problems, which can lead to dehydration. If they lick a little spilled milk up off the floor, don’t panic – but don’t pour them a whole saucer as a treat. 

If you ever have questions about what is and what is not okay to feed your pets, contact your vet or the Bowman Road Pet Clinic. We’re here to help you make healthy decisions for your pet through every stage of life.