Pet problems during the holidays are often related to something they have eaten.

Some people food is not good for your pet and can even be dangerous. Chocolate is one of the worst things. It contains theobromine, a caffeine-like chemical which is very toxic to cats and dogs.

The darker the chocolate the more theobromine it contains so be especially careful that your pet doesn’t get into any dark chocolate. Milk chocolate is less toxic to your pets, but it can also cause stomach problems. The symptoms of chocolate poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, irregular heartbeat, tremors and seizures.

The artificial sweetener xylitol found in gum, mints, candies and baked goods can cause internal hemorrhaging and liver failure. Uncooked baking dough contains yeast. If your dog or cat eats it, the dough can rise causing discomfort as well as potentially rupturing your pet’s stomach or bowel. Make sure pet does not sample any baked goods that have not been baked. If you are using grapes or raisins in your baking, keep them away from your pet. They can cause kidney failure.

Do not give your cat or dog ham, turkey, chicken or fish bones. Cooking causes bones to dehydrate and become brittle. If your pet eats them, they can splinter and puncture their stomach or intestines. Bones packaged and prepared just for pets are a safer choice. They can be purchased in a grocery or pet store.

Turkey and chicken skin and gravy are high in fat and difficult for pets to digest. Eating them can cause your pet a painful illness called pancreatitis. The symptoms are vomiting, diarrhea and weakness.

Onions contain thiosulphate which causes red blood cells to burst in dogs and cats. Even small amounts can have serious effects. Nutmeg can cause seizures, tremors, central nervous system problems and shock. Because pets do not have significant amounts of lactose, milk and milk products can give them stomach upsets.

Especially around this time of the year, your garbage can must smell like a grand buffet for your cat or dog. They could be attracted to paper or string soaked in meat juices. Raw meat could be infected with bacteria or parasites. There could be bones wrapped in the garbage. Keep your garbage where your pet can’t get into it and be sure the garbage can has a secure lid. Empty the garbage can often.

If you can’t resist your dog or cat’s cute begging, stuff some turkey, sweet potatoes or pumpkin without nutmeg, mashed potatoes or green beans into a Kong. There are Kongs for cats, too. It will keep him busy for a long time and you won’t have to deal with the guilt.

The Pittsburg County Animal Shelter is located at 1204 N. West Street in McAlester. The hours are 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday. The phone number is 918-423-7803. The adoption fee is $20 for dogs and $15 for cats. All have been spayed or neutered, vaccinated and microchipped.