6 People Food No-Nos for Pets

Bad doggy! Keep your dogs -- and cats -- away from holiday treats.
Bad doggy! Keep your dogs -- and cats -- away from holiday treats.

Bad doggy! Keep your dogs -- and cats -- away from holiday treats.

Holiday feasts mean plenty of tasty temptation for you -- and your dog or cat. Though you may not plan to give people food to your pets, they'll still be cruising for handouts. Ask guests not to share their chow with pets, and keep food out of a sneaky paw's reach. Watch out for that box of chocolates on the coffee table, beware of counter-surfing cats and dogs, and keep your Dumpster-diving pooch out of the trash.

There are plenty of people food no-nos for pets, but these six items are common on tables this time of year, and they're bad news for both cats and dogs.

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Onions, garlic, and chives. These members of the allium family (including onion and garlic powders) can cause tummy upset in cats and dogs. Very small amounts probably won't do any damage, but if animals eat a lot of onions, garlic, or chives over time, it can cause red blood cell damage that leads to anemia.

Grapes, raisins, and currants. Large amounts of these can cause kidney failure in cats and dogs (no one knows why). Grapes, raisins, and currants may be more problematic for pets that already have health issues, according to the American Society for the Protection of Animals.

Chocolate. The culprits in chocolate: theobromine and caffeine. Cats and dogs metabolize these chemical compounds more slowly than we do, so they can accumulate in the body and cause vomiting and diarrhea. In extreme cases, chocolate poisoning can cause tremors, seizures, and even death. The darker the chocolate -- and the smaller your pet -- the more dangerous it can be. A tiny Chihuahua that snarfs down a whole dark-chocolate bar is likely to get much sicker than a Great Dane that nibbles a milk chocolate Kiss.

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Milk. What's more iconic than a cat lapping up a saucer of milk? Turns out, milk and other dairy products can cause vomiting and diarrhea in cats and dogs. Animals don't produce enough of the enzyme lactase to break down the lactose (naturally occurring sugar) in milk.

Turkey bones and fatty scraps. It's tempting to share the holiday bird with your dog or cat. A little nibble of cooked meat is fine, but skip the bones and fat. Cooked turkey bones can splinter and make pets choke or cause internal lacerations and blocked intestines. Fatty scraps are hard for animals to digest and can cause an upset stomach. If animals eat too much fat, it can lead to pancreatitis.

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Alcohol. Sure, you wouldn't pour a cranberry martini for your pet, but animals have been known to lap up cocktails and beer. Alcohol can cause vomiting and diarrhea in cats and dogs, and even make them comatose if they imbibe too much. Other sources of alcohol around the holidays include booze-soaked baked goods and unbaked yeast bread dough (a surprising favorite of canine counter-surfers). The raw dough ferments in the animal's stomach to produce alcohol, along with potentially fatal bloating.

If Fluffy or Fido still gobbles something they shouldn't? Call your vet or the 24/7 Pet Poison Helpline, (800) 213-6680.

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