We love our dogs! They are part of our family, so it’s only natural to have the urge to want to treat them to some of our holiday dinner. However, our dog's digestive systems work differently than ours, and there are foods that you should steer clear of giving to your pooch.
While not an exhaustive list of all the foods you should keep away from your pet, we have put together a list of 10 foods that you should keep away from your dog while celebrating this holiday season:
1. Turkey Skin or Fat
Not just turkey skin and fat, but all meat skins and fats (including bacon - yes, bacon!) are bad for your dog. It can cause your fluffy pal to have an upset stomach, vomiting, or diarrhea. Also, because they have a hard time digesting foods with a high fat content, pancreatitis can be triggered in dogs after consuming fat trimmings or other foods that are high in fat.
It only seems natural that you’d give your dogs the bones from your cooked turkey, right? Wrong!
Cooked bones are more brittle than raw ones, making them more likely to splinter into sharp pieces and cause choking or internal injuries. Also, if your dog swallows a bone it can become an obstruction if it becomes stuck in their throat or digestive tract. If you want to give your dog a bone, stick to raw or recreational bones, but always monitor your dog when they have a bone and immediately remove the bone when it becomes small enough to become a choking hazard.
3. Onions, garlic, chives (or any foods part of the allium family)
Effects from foods in the allium family, such as onions, garlic, or chives, are shown to cause issues in dogs ranging from stomach irritation to toxic anemia. Typically larger amounts of these vegetables and herbs lead to red blood cell damage (and in return, anemia), but it’s best to avoid giving them to your dogs even in smaller amounts. It’s also important to note that signs of anemia from ingestion might not show up until days later.
4. Grapes, Raisins, Cranberry, and Currants
Rapid kidney failure has been associated with dogs that have ingested grapes, raisin, and even certain types of currants and cranberries. Even though research has yet to produce a reason why these fruits cause this fatal reaction, they are known to be highly toxic and should never be given to your furry friends.
Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that is often used in gum, candy, and baked treats. It is extremely toxic to pets and can cause liver failure and death. And, watch out for Aunt Betty’s purse on the floor. The most common cause of Xylitol poisoning is from sugar-free gum that Fluffy snuck out of an abandoned purse. Take your dog to the vet immediately if you know that they’ve consumed Xylitol!
Chocolate contains theobromine, which is a stimulant similar to caffeine and can lead to vomiting, dehydration, restlessness, increased heart rate, seizures, and death when consumed by dogs.
Let’s clear something up - it’s never funny or cute to give your dog alcohol.
This includes beer, wine (don’t forget: grapes are BAD too), liquor, or alcohol used in baking - no rum cake for Fido. All forms of alcohol are toxic to dogs. Dogs are far more sensitive to the effects of intoxication than humans, and they can suffer from alcohol poisoning.
Some nuts are more toxic to dogs than others, but the standard rule-of-thumb should be to avoid giving your dog any nuts at all! Nuts have a high fat content that can also put your pup at risk of developing pancreatitis or toxic shock with tumor and seizures. Nuts also can become an intestinal obstruction or choking hazard for dogs, especially smaller ones.
A lot of dogs are lactose-intolerant, and just like a human that’s lactose-intolerant, dogs can develop stomach problems (gas, diarrhea, vomiting, etc.) that come along with eating dairy when it doesn’t agree with them. In short - it’s just safer to stay away from allowing your dog to have any dairy*. *Note: This includes cheese.
Realizing that this may seem ridiculous (and decorations are not technically food), but pups can be very tempted by the new, sparkly, festive decor that is everywhere. Take caution when taking your dog around any unfamiliar decor that includes ribbons, glitter, or other small pieces that your dog can easily ingest or chew on. Also, many flowers such as lilies, azaleas, hydrangeas, ivy, and poinsettias can cause GI upset in dogs and should be avoided.
Keep This Information for Reference
We've created a simple download that you can print out and place in a spot for easy reference. We suggest placing in a spot that you view often, like the refrigerator or the pantry door.
What Should You Do If Your Dog Eats Something It Shouldn’t?
Our furry friends can be sneaky and sometimes they get into things that they shouldn’t, even if we do our best to try to keep the said thing away from them. If you suspect that your dog may have gotten into something they shouldn’t have, you can use resources such as the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center’s (APCC) free mobile app or call poison control at 1-800-222-1222.
The ASPCA APCC’s free app is called Animal Poison by ASPCA, and it is available for download on both iPhone or Android devices. The app helps owners quickly identify over 300 potential everyday hazards, provides crucial information about the severity of the problem and critical next steps.
In most cases, the sooner that you get help from a vet the better the outcome is likely to be. Therefore, you should take your dog to the vet if you notice any of the following, unexplained symptoms:
- Loss of appetite
- Seizures or tremors
What Foods Can You Give Dogs?
There are a number of reasons that we would discourage you from feeding your dog from your plate, but if you’re determined to feed your fur-baby some of your holiday meal, there are a few options that are safe as long as they are not cooked with any spices, seasonings, or oils, such as:
- White meat turkey
- Green beans
- Pumpkin (DO NOT give your dog canned pumpkin pie filling)
- Sweet potatoes
Another great option is baking a homemade treat specifically for your four-legged friends. We have an easy recipe for Apple Pie Pup-Cakes that make a great holiday treat. Plus, it’s a win-win for everyone! You can ensure that your dog isn’t consuming anything that would be harmful to him/her, and they get to partake in the holiday treats!
Originally published November 2018. Updated November 2019.