by Sam Mazzotta
DEAR CLARA: With many pet owners throwing holiday parties for family and friends, it’s more important than ever to remember that pets do not have the same digestive systems as humans and that we need to keep certain foods away from them.
Dogs and cats should never eat chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions, macadamia nuts, walnuts, tomatoes, avocadoes, nutmeg, coffee, tea or breath mints. All of these are toxic and can cause severe health problems or even death. Cats should not be allowed near lily plants especially, and most houseplants are toxic to them also.
All pets should avoid foods that are high in fat, salt or sugar, bones that are likely to splinter (such as chicken bones) and alcohol – meaning do not give beer to your dog, even if you think it’s funny. If you are baking, keep pets away from yeast dough or bread dough, baking soda or baking powder – ingesting these ingredients can cause serious problems. The seeds, leaves and stems of many kinds of fruits and some vegetables can be toxic to pets.
Supervise all feeding times and make sure your pets eat only what you give them. Seal the kitchen garbage can (or take out the trash twice as often) so pets won’t root around. Move plants out of pets’ reach.
During holiday gatherings, if you can’t keep an eye on your pet at all times, isolate the pet in an unused room – place its bedding, toys, food and water in the room as well, and check on your pet frequently – until your guests have left.