She looks at you with those big, brown eyes, and you just can’t say “no” to her. After all, she’s your baby — the love of your life. When she looks at you with her little head cocked to one side, and her ears are pushed forward in perfect triangles, your heart melts, and you can’t help but give her anything she wants. 

Your dog is a special member of your family, and you naturally want to share everything you have with them. 

However, this shouldn’t be the case when it comes to food from the table. Even though you think of your pet as being part of your family, they aren’t the same as you when it comes to their eating plan. There are certain foods that are harmful or poisonous when eaten by your dog. 

Some potentially dangerous foods include grapes, the seeds and pits from peaches, plums, persimmons, and cherries, raisins, the stems and leaves of tomatoes, avocados, mushrooms, walnuts, and macadamia nuts. 

Other foods include onions, garlic, and the leaves of rhubarb. The bones in chicken, turkey, and fish can get caught in a dog’s throat or in their intestines. Fat cut from meat, raw meat and fish, and uncooked bread dough are also harmful. Other dangerous foods include caffeine — which is in coffee, tea, and chocolate — including white chocolate, coffee grounds, raw eggs, baking powder, baking soda, onion powder, and mustard seed. 

And we can’t forget to include in our list of potentially dangerous foods, moldy foods and food that has been thrown into the compost bin. Also salty foods, such as chips and pretzels, and sugary foods and drinks. Xylitol, which is an artificial sweetener used in products such as candy, sugar-free gum, and sugar-free baked goods, are dangerous for your dog to eat. And, of course, never give alcohol to your dog. 

All of these foods and drinks can harm your dog’s nervous system, liver, kidneys, intestines, and can even be fatal when fed to your best friend.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t give your dog an occasional treat from the table. Unless your veterinarian says otherwise, treats that are safe for your dog to eat include one or two small, thin carrot sticks, a small slice or two of an apple, and a small bite of watermelon, cucumber, or zucchini, minus the rind and stem, of course. A small piece of baked potato is also allowed, but not if the potato is green. Boiled chicken, without the bones, and rice, cooled to prevent burns, can also be safely fed to your dog. 

So as you celebrate the holiday season with your family and friends, please remember to be careful when giving treats to your dog. Their good health depends on the decisions you make when it comes to what they eat. Your furry family member is a special gift. 

Remember to keep them safe and healthy this holiday season. 

Eileen Hourihan McCarthy, an Oak Park resident, is a registered dietitian, lifestyle coach, and lecturer.

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