From Thanksgiving through the New Year, it's the season of good eating, and it's inevitable the family pet will partake in the indulgent menus as well.

That's why it's important to know what foods are safe for pets and which ones can be harmful.

First, let’s talk about the ones they can enjoy, too. These foods should be cut into small pieces to prevent choking, and given only in small amounts. If unsure about a particular food, check with a vet before feeding it to a pet or avoid it altogether. Better to be safe than sorry.

  • Turkey: It's a great lean protein to share with pets. Be sure to remove any excess skin or fat, stick with white meat and make sure there are no bones.
  • Mashed potatoes: Share them plain. Be aware of additional ingredients used to make mashed potatoes such as cheese, sour cream, butter, onions or gravy, as these may upset pets' stomachs.
  • Green beans: Share the “no salt added” kind.
  • Carrots: They're good either raw or cooked.
  • Sweet potatoes: Cooked, cubed or mashed without butter or seasoning, they're fine for pets.
  • Fresh pumpkin: It's a good source of fiber and vitamin A.
  • Apples: The seeds contain chemical compounds that are poisonous to animals, so the fruit is fine as long as no seeds are included.
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Squash
  • Zucchini
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach

The following are some foods that can be harmful or toxic:

  • Grapes and raisins: They contain chemical compounds that are toxic to dogs.
  • Garlic, onions, leeks and scallions: All have chemical properties that can be toxic, and even life-threatening, to dogs and cats.
  • Mushrooms: Wild ones are particularly problematic.
  • Peaches, cherries and plums: In some cases, the pits can be toxic, or can simply present a choking hazard.
  • Nuts: Especially rule out macadamia nuts, which are toxic to pets.
  • Xylitol: Anything made with this artificial sweetener is a no-no for pets.
  • Alcohol: No alcohol of any kind, cooked in anything (fruitcake, etc.)
  • Chocolate
  • Tomatoes
  • Avocados


THROUGH DEC. 23: The Home for the Holidays program helps the animals at the Louisiana SPCA find their forever homes with $60 adoption fees for those 6 months and up. For $100 donation, the Holiday Delivery program will have your newly adopted pet delivered on either Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa. This program is available for all animals adopted from the Louisiana SPCA two weeks before the desired delivery date. For more information, visit

SATURDAY:  The Louisiana SPCA is holding a volunteer orientation from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at 1700 Mardi Gras Blvd., New Orleans. Pre-registration is required at

SATURDAY: Animal Rescue New Orleans will be at the center court of The Esplanade, 1401 W. Esplanade Ave., Kenner, from noon to 3 p.m. with adoptable dogs and information on fostering, volunteering and adopting. For more info, email

SATURDAY: Overnight Critter Cinema will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, to Sunday, Dec. 16, at the Louisiana SPCA, 1700 Mardi Gras Blvd. What better way to end the week than getting cozy with kitties and puppies, enjoying G-rated critter movies, making friends and snacking on pizza & popcorn. For kids ages 5-10, bring a sleeping bag, pillow, toothbrush and PJs. $75 per child. Pre-registration is required; call (504) 368.5191, ext. 207 or email For more info, visit

LOST OR FOUND PETS: In Orleans Parish, send a photo, description of your pet, date lost/found and your contact info to In Jefferson Parish, send to and In St. Bernard Parish, send to

Traci D. Howerton is the volunteer coordinator and marketing director of Animal Rescue New Orleans (ARNO), a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. For topic suggestions, email or for more info on ARNO, visit