5 Game Day Foods to Avoid Feeding Pets

Keep an Eye on Football and Your Pet

Sable football

Football parties are exciting, loud and usually complimented by an array of tasty finger foods and drinks. You may not be the only one overindulging during this weekend's big game; your dog or cat may be sampling, too. You might end up with a mild upset stomach but your pet could end up in the ER.

To avoid accidental poisoning, put out a trash can with a lid so that your pet can't nose around for scraps. Be sure to ask children and other party goers not to leave food on a low table or on the floor as your pet will be tempted to investigate.

1. Alcohol

Beer bottles

Pets can easily become attracted to a discarded cup of wine, beer or especially sangria left sitting on the ground or a low table during a party. Ingestion of alcohol can cause dangerous drops in blood sugar, blood pressure and body temperature. Intoxicated animals can experience seizures and respiratory failure.

Desserts containing alcohol or yeast-containing dough are also culprits.

2. Fatty Foods and Bones

Chicken wings and pizza

Chicken wings, pizza, hot dogs and burgers are just a few foods known to be high in fat. If your dog eats any of these, he's at risk for vomiting and diarrhea and developing pancreatitis.

Table scraps like chicken bones or ribs can also contain bones which are actually very dangerous for dogs. Although it seems natural to give a dog a bone, he can easily choke on it. Bones can also splinter and cause an obstruction or lacerations of your dog's digestive system.

3. Onions and garlic

Onions and garlic

Onions and garlic are popular ingredients in party foods such as burgers, egg salad, salsa and guacamole to name a few. Onions contain an ingredient called thiosulphate which is extremely toxic to cats and dogs. Ingesting a very small amount can lead to hemolytic anemia, when the red blood cells that circulate through your pet’s body burst.

Garlic, chives, and leeks are also part of the Allium family, and are poisonous to dogs and cats. Considered to be about five times as potent as onions, garlic causes oxidative damage to the red blood cells as well as an upset stomach (e.g., nausea, oral irritation, drooling, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea). Onion and garlic poisoning may have a delayed onset and clinical signs may not be apparent for several days. Immediate veterinary care is recommended.

4. Chocolate, Sweets and Soda


Dogs like eating sweets, too; however, they can become very sick as a result. Chocolate, soda, acai berries, brownies, cake, fudge and candy contain alkaloid theobromine, which can be lethal to dogs and cats, leading to poisoning and pancreatitis. The darker the chocolate, the higher risk of toxicity.

Xylitol, a sugar substitute commonly used in sugarless gum, many baked goods and candies, is also extremely dangerous to your dog. Ingestion of any small amounts of the product will cause the rapid release of insulin and result in hypoglycemia. Immediate care is recommended if you suspect your pet has ingested chocolate, sweets or soda. Read more about dogs and chocolate.

5. Nuts

Mixed nuts

Nuts are a common snack food. In fact, one of the most frequent online searches is "are peanuts safe for dogs?" Pets and people alike would agree nuts are a tasty treat; however, certain types of nuts can lead to toxic poisoning in your pet. According to Nationwide pet insurance, walnut poisoning is one of the most common claims for toxic ingestion.

Black walnuts, English walnuts, hickory nuts, Japanese walnuts, macadamia nuts and pecans contain tremorgenic mycotoxins which can cause seizures or neurological symptoms in pets. Almonds and pistachios can cause an upset stomach and create gastric intestinal distress or pancreatitis.

Nuts are also a common ingredient in cookies. If you'd like to learn more about toxic nuts to pets, check out our Nut Dangers Infographic.

If you are concerned about any dangerous or toxic substances your dog may have consumed, please contact your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline.*

*A fee is billed by Pet Poison Helpline. PPH is not affiliated with Nationwide pet insurance.