Foods to Keep Away from Your Dog This Holiday Season

Pets are family, so it would make sense to want to include them in the holiday fun. However, there are many dangers for pets lurking around the dinner table.

It is imperative to keep your dog away from alcohol, turkey bones, and foods containing certain spices or ingredients. If you want to let them eat with you, make sure the foods you give them are safe for them to eat.

food to keep away from your dog

Even a tiny amount of some foods we eat during Thanksgiving (see video), Christmas, and New Year’s can be toxic to your dog. If you see any signs that indicate that your dog has eaten something harmful to them, get them to the emergency vet immediately, as time is of the essence.

Read this article to find out what foods to keep away from your dog this holiday season.

Are Holiday Foods Bad for Your Dog?

Many holiday foods are bad for your dog. You need to be aware of what these foods are so you can make sure you or no one else feeds these foods to your dog. These forbidden holiday foods include:


Never give your pets any alcohol. If they consume enough of it, it can badly damage their liver and kidneys. Your dog has a small liver that cannot handle too much alcohol. It only takes a little bit to cause harm.

Alcohol can cause your pup’s central nervous system to slow down, and it can make your dog’s heart rate and breathe slow. It can make the blood overly acidic, which can lead to cardiac arrest. Alcohol can make the blood sugar drop significantly.

A seizure can occur, and your dog may even experience some brain damage. Giving any alcohol to your dog is a resounding no-no. It is not suitable for them, and they should never have access to it. Keep the wine and beer out of your pup’s reach this holiday season. The major signs of alcohol poisoning in your dog include:

  • Slowed central nervous system
  • Vomiting
  • Inebriation
  • Dehydration

There is also a risk of pneumonia if your pup inhales their vomit.


The primary ingredients in chocolate that are toxic to dogs include theobromine and caffeine. Caffeine is naturally a component of the cocoa bean related to the coffee bean, from which chocolate is made. Dogs cannot have coffee because it can kill them.

As far as theobromine is concerned, the worst offenders include cocoa powder, baker’s chocolate, and semi-sweet chocolate. Unsweetened cocoa powder has been shown to have the highest concentration of theobromine.

Milk chocolate is not so great for your dog either. It may have half of the amount of caffeine and theobromine in it, but it is still dangerous for your dog. White chocolate has less, but it is still enough to cause harm. Bottom line: Keep your pup away from all chocolate during holiday get-togethers. Signs of chocolate toxicity include:

  • Vomiting
  • Increased heart rate
  • Restlessness
  • Dehydration

Clinical signs of chocolate toxicity can take several hours to show up, which can last for days.

Garlic, Onions, and Chives

During the holidays, garlic, onions, and chives are often served in everything from mashed potatoes to stuffing. It does not matter if it is in fresh, cooked, or powdered form; it can lead to damaged blood cells and anemia.

When your dog consumes onion, toxins build up in their system, and it destroys red blood cells. This cell destruction leads to something called hemolytic anemia. Onion poisoning in dogs can be fatal. Signs of garlic and onion poisoning include:

  • Onion and garlic smelling breath
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Increased heart rate

Garlic is more toxic to dogs, as it is about five times more potent than onions.

Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin is good for some dogs, as it is high in fiber and contains a lot of vitamin A, which promotes healthy eyesight. However, sugar and cinnamon, and nutmeg are bad for dogs. Sugar causes stomach issues, and cinnamon is a definite no for dogs.

Cinnamon causes low blood sugar in dogs. If your dog inhales cinnamon powder, it can cause your dog to cough, choke and have difficulty breathing. Nutmeg can be toxic to dogs. Try to keep your pup away from pumpkin pie, as it may contain one or all these spices. Sings your pup has ingested nutmeg include:

  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Abdominal pain
  • Seizures

Ingestion of nutmeg can harm your pup’s nervous system.


Xylitol is a sweetener that is a sugar substitute. It is naturally found in foods like:

  • Berries
  • Plums
  • Corn
  • Oats
  • Mushrooms
  • Lettuce

Xylitol is highly toxic to dogs. Even in the smallest quantities, it can cause liver failure, hypoglycemia, or even death.

If you are hosting a holiday occasion this year, one of your guests may bring pie that has been made with this sweetener to cut down on the calories. Make sure any desserts or candies containing this ingredient are nowhere near your dog.

Signs your dog may have ingested a portion of food containing xylitol include:

  • Difficulty walking
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy

Xylitol is extremely dangerous for a dog’s liver.

Raisins and Grapes

Fruitcakes are a long-standing holiday staple, as it is often given as a gift. They will usually have either grapes or raisins in them or both. These fruits can trigger rapid kidney failure in dogs and can be fatal for both cats and dogs.

Fruitcake is one of those holiday staples that tend to be unavoidable. Do not feed your dog unwanted fruitcakes. Instead, regift it or throw it away. Signs of your pet may have consumed grapes or raisins include:

  • Vomiting
  • Tenderness in abdomen
  • Increased or decreased urine production

Any plant that belongs to the Vitis species can cause toxicity in pets.

Turkey Skin and Bones

Turkey itself is not toxic to dogs. It is an excellent lean protein for them to eat. However, Thanksgiving and Christmas turkeys are often made with herbs and spices. They are often full of stuffing, onions, and garlic. You should never allow your pup to hide under the dinner table at Thanksgiving, catching scraps of turkey, especially the skin.

Also, never permit your dog to chew on turkey bones, as they can choke on them. Turkey bones can pose a severe threat to your dog. Some of the problems that can ensue from giving your dog a turkey bone include:

  • Mouth and tongue injuries
  • Obstruction of the throat and intestinal tract
  • Choking
  • Bones get into the lining of the stomach
  • Constipation
  • Rectal bleeding from bone fragments
  • Severe blockages that can be an emergency

If you want your dog to have turkey, you should only feed them plain turkey without herbs or spices—no skin or bones.

If you want your dog to chew a bone, you can let them have a sturdy nylon or rubber chew toy bone that works for their size.  Signs your pup may have ingested turkey skin or bones include:

  • Constipation
  • Bleeding from rectum
  • Abdominal pain

Cuts on the dog’s lips or cheeks can occur, or bone can get trapped in the dog’s jaw, necessitating surgery.

Keep Your Dog Safe from Dangerous Foods

Over the holidays, it can be enticing to allow your dog to eat certain foods that they may not otherwise get to eat. However, if you want to save yourself a trip to the emergency vet, refer to this list of foods that are prohibited for your canine companion.

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