Holiday Foods that are Bad for Dogs: A Guide

Holiday Foods that are Bad for Dogs: A Guide

  • Kirsten Thornhill - 14.12.2020

What Holiday Foods are Bad for Your Dog?

Overloading and overflowing your holiday table with yummy foods and tasty treats is rewarding. After planning, shopping, preparing, and cooking for hours on end in the kitchen, it’s time to indulge, enjoy, and gather around the table for a nice, home-cooked meal. 

As you start to load your plate up, it’s inevitable that you want to sneak a bite or two down to your friend patiently waiting under the table. They’re giving you those irresistible puppy dog eyes. 


While your dog may get a bite or two from you, he or she may also be getting a bite or two from everyone else around the dinner table. It’s important that you’re aware of what table scraps fido is getting, as some of these foods may be potentially harmful or toxic to their cute, four-legged existence. 

So, in today’s article, we’ll be touching on all the foods that your pup may need to stay away from when it comes to holiday snacks and treats as well as how you can ensure that your pup doesn’t fall victim or harmed due to the holiday cheer. 

Let’s clean up for supper!

Eight Holiday Foods that are Bad for Your Dog

Before we get into all the dishes, treats, and goodness, we need to start off by saying that certain foods are a big “no” for our furry friends. 

1. Ham 

Ham is a wonderful protein source, for us humans. It’s easily forgivable to assume that your four-legged friend would benefit from this juicy goodness too, right? 

To be quite frank, pork products can be extremely harmful to dogs, causing vomiting, diarrhea, upset stomachs, and pancreatitis. Ham is high in fat, which can contribute to obesity in pets. Even a small bite can add on more than a few calories for your pet’s daily intake. 

2. Turkey Bones & Skin

The holiday turkey is often the center of attention on the table, the labor-intensive craft of love, the item that everyone awes over, the center piece for looks. 

Turkey is a great source of protein for us and our canines but may be of grave danger with holiday recipes adding fats and aromas for flavor. The skin is often the source of the most delectable flavors a turkey can offer. However, feeding turkey skin to your dog may lead to toxic exposures. 

Turkey bones can also be very harmful to your furry friend. Bones can become stuck in their intestines, needing surgical removal. They can splinter, causing damage or irritation to your dog’s gastric and or esophageal lining. Abdominal infections could lead to death if turkey bones were to puncture any vital organs. 

3. Onions and Garlic

These foods contain many aromatic foods that are often foundational ingredients in our everyday cooking. Garlic, chives, onions, shallots, and leeks may all be apart of this group, in whichever form imaginable. 



Signs and symptoms of allium poisoning may only present themselves days after ingestion. Symptoms to watch out for in your dog may include:

  • Developed anemia
  • Dark urine
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting

4. Mashed Potatoes

Oh those scrumptious, yummy, garlicky, creamy, and buttery mashed potatoes. Some may even call them the greatest carb side for any occasion. Unfortunately, these can make your dog sick. But, if the potatoes are unadulterated and cooked, they can make a great addition to your dog’s diet. 

They are rich in Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, iron, and even magnesium. And of course, you don’t want your furry friend to miss out on the carb heaven action, so make them a side of cooked potatoes (plain of course). Do note though, if your dog has diabetes, potatoes can cause a blood sugar spike and this should be avoided, no matter the celebration. 

If a sweet potato dish on also on your holiday menu, try and refrain from giving your furry friend a bite or two as well. As most holiday dishes do, these plates may have spices like cinnamon and nutmeg in them, which may be very unsafe for pets. Nutmeg, for instance, contains myristicin, which can cause hallucinations, dry mouth, abdominal pain, increased heart rate, and possible seizures in dogs. 

5. Chocolate

Even though this is commonly known by most paw parents, chocolate is toxic for dogs! Even the smallest amounts can cause vomiting, diarrhea, tachycardia, seizures, tremors, pancreatitis, or even death. If you suspect that your dog has gotten into some chocolate, call Pet Poison Helpline immediately.

Again, chocolate is toxic to dogs because of the methylzanthine alkaloids: caffeine and theobromine. Us humans can easily digest these alkaloids, but our dogs can’t. Instead, this affects dog’s central nervous system and cardiovascular system. 



A good rule of thumb to remember is the darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it can be for fido. This is due to the high levels of theobromine in the chocolate. 

6. Cranberry Sauces

Pure or fresh cranberries are great for doggos and may even lower their pH levels in bladder infections. However, when made into a sauce for toppings on your dinner plate, raisins and sugar are two common ingredients that are potentially harmful to your dog’s health. Sugar-free sauces may not be much better either, as most artificial sweeteners, such as xylitol, are extremely harmful to pets. 

7. Corn

Corn may not be a super traditional holiday dish, but it’s still worthy of mentioning. Feeding your dog sheared corn before adding salt, butter, oil, or other seasonings is totally fine! But, giving your dog an ear of entire corn on the cob can not only be a choking concern but may also cause blockage and perforation in their little intestines.  

8. Nuts

Nuts do provide healthy fats and proteins to your dog’s food intake. Feel free to give your pup their own nut butter or natural nuts. However, stay clear from any caramelized nuts or candied treats. 

The nuts to avoid can include pecans and pistachios, as these can lead to a mold that causes aflatoxin and may damage your dog’s liver. Hazelnuts, cashews, and almonds may also be a choking hazard for your pet, as they are small and can lodge down into the esophageal canal easily. 


What if my Dog Has Eaten Toxic Foods?

If you’ve found your doggo swallowing down some human goodies that they shouldn’t be digging into, it’s time to take action. Call your closest animal emergency hospital or give Pet Poison Control Helpline a call to see if there is anything you can do for them while you’re at home. 

Sometimes the Pet Poison Helpline may recommend induction of vomiting if it has been within 2 hours of their ingestion. Of course, first, speak with a toxicologist to see if this approach is best for your pet’s case. Giving your pup activated charcoal has also been suggested to help, as it helps absorb toxins and soothes feces excretion. Again, please speak with an expert before implementing your own treatment plan at home. 



If your doggo is showing severe symptoms or signs, we highly recommend taking them to an animal hospital immediately. 

How to Keep Fido Happy Around Meal Time

Training your furry friend to behave, in general, isn’t the easiest task. Trying to train your pup to behave around food on the table? Also a tough task. Nonetheless, training your pet to behave around food and mealtimes is a good idea and can help limit their chances of ingesting harmful foods. 

Even if your four-legged pooch usually behaves when the holidays come around and family shows up, the number of guests around may increase fido’s chances of sneaking in some treats he or she shouldn’t be getting. 

The watery eyes, drooling, whining, and whimpering pleas for food and nibbles will tempt your guests to give them a little taste of the turkey skin, mashed potatoes, or nuts.



Keep your dog away from the table if possible, maybe even train them to lie down when humans eat their meal. You can always reward your dog with a tasty dog-approved treat after!

Keep Your Furry Friend Safe This Holiday

As we try and finish this year full of joy and wishful health to the best we can, don’t forget about your furry friend’s enjoyment too. 

Don’t let your dog’s health and well-being fall to the bottom of your to-do list. Fido is there for you always and you’re doing your best to be there for them too, of course!

As the saying goes, ‘prevention is the best medicine’. As a responsible and caring paw parent 24/7, don’t forget about these foods your pup should stay clear of this holiday season. Keep your dog out of harm’s way this holiday season by asking your guests to refrain from feeding your cute big-eyed pup table scraps and treats. 

With the goal of keeping everyone safe, fed, and happy while you’re hosting, you’ll feel at ease knowing that your pup is staying healthy and happy too. 


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