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15 Holiday Foods That Are Bad for Dogs (Vet Reviewed)

Written by: Misty Layne

Last Updated on May 9, 2024 by Dogster Team

top view of golden retriever near family holding glasses of white wine during thanksgiving dinner

15 Holiday Foods That Are Bad for Dogs (Vet Reviewed)


Dr. Lauren Demos  Photo


Dr. Lauren Demos

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Holidays are a lot of fun, no matter what holiday is being celebrated. There’s family, friends, decorations, and most importantly, food! Some of the most delicious foods we eat all year are holiday foods, so you might be tempted to let your dog join in the festivities by giving them a taste of something off your plate. But not so fast!

Many of the holiday foods we enjoy aren’t healthy for canines, and a few are downright toxic. To keep your dog safe the next time a holiday rolls around, avoid giving them any of the following holiday foods! Instead, give your pup a special canine-friendly dog treat to include them in the holiday excitement.

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The 15 Holiday Foods That Are Bad for Dogs

1. Alcohol

Red wine pouring into wine glass
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

Okay, so you’re probably not giving your dog sips of your alcoholic beverage; no alcohol for dogs seems like a no-brainer, after all. But can you say that for all the guests at your holiday party? A guest who’s had a bit too much to drink may find it funny to slip your pup a sip or two of alcohol. Or if your pet finds an unattended glass of alcohol on a table, they could lap it up (dogs may be attracted to the sweetness in the scent of alcohol).

Another possible way dogs can consume alcohol is by eating food that has alcohol in it. If any of these things happen, your pet could be looking at some serious issues.

2. Bones, Skin, or Fat of the Meat

chicken bones on a plate on top of wooden table
Image Credit: Apirakthanakorn, Shutterstock

If you’re having something like turkey for a holiday dinner, it likely smells delicious to your dog, especially the skin and fat. And while it may seem safe enough to sneak a bite of turkey to your pet, it can actually end up being harmful, as the skin and fat of meat can result in gastrointestinal issues in your dog. Too much fat in a pup’s diet can lead to serious health problems, like pancreatitis.

Bones, too, aren’t good for your pet. If a dog consumes bones, the bones could cut their mouth, throat, stomach, or intestinal tract. Bones might even be large enough to cause a perforation in vital organs, which can be deadly. Even if no cuts or tears occur, the bones can still get stuck in the gastrointestinal system and cause a blockage.

3. Casseroles

Homemade Thanksgiving Pork Sage Stuffing in a Casserole Dish
Image Credit: Brent Hofacker, Shutterstock

Casseroles are staples of the holiday table, but while you (and your dog) may find them delicious, they can be extremely harmful to canines. Casseroles consist of a mix of foods, including ingredients such as oils, butter, salt, heavy creams, spices, and more. Any food that contains a lot of oils, butter, and heavy creams is way too fatty for your dog to consume. Then, you have the variety of spices and flavorings found in casseroles, many of which are toxic to dogs.

Casseroles are a food that should absolutely not be given to your furry friend!

4. Chocolate

Milk and dark chocolate bar powder on a wooden table
Image Credit: Sebastian Duda, Shutterstock

Here’s another holiday food you should already know is dangerous for your pet. But do you know why it’s so dangerous? The reason chocolate is toxic to canines is because it contains theobromine; this is the part of the chocolate that is so toxic. Plus, chocolate has caffeine, which is something else your pet shouldn’t have.

At best, chocolate will cause your dog to experience signs like diarrhea and vomiting. At worst, a pup consuming chocolate could result in heart arrhythmia, seizures, and death. If your dog eats chocolate, get them to the vet immediately.

5. Citrus Fruits

Whole and cut fresh ripe limes with green leaves in bowl on wooden table
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

Citrus fruits might seem like an odd choice of food to give a dog, but if your pup begs hard enough, you could be tempted. Citrus isn’t as bad as some of the other holiday treats for our canine pals, but it can be harmful if they eat these fruits in excess. So, if your dog manages to sneak a lime wedge from a glass, they should be fine. However, eating more than that could cause your pet to have an upset stomach or even indigestion. The limonene and psoralen found in citrus could also irritate their eyes or skin.

The next time a holiday rolls around, keep citrus fruits off counters and tables and out of reach of the dog!

6. Dairy

Dairy products on wood
Image Credit: ff-photo, Shutterstock

You might already know that felines are generally lactose intolerant, but did you know dogs can have issues with dairy, as well? Dairy products can cause digestive issues in dogs, including diarrhea, and trigger food allergies. The holidays are ripe for dairy products—fancy cheeses, eggnog, and more—but don’t be tempted to give these foods to your pup!

Eggnog, in particular, can be harmful to your dog. This isn’t because of the dairy (though the dairy doesn’t help) but rather because of the raw eggs and nutmeg in the drink. Raw eggs can cause E. coli or salmonella poisoning, while nutmeg is toxic to your furry friend due to the compound known as myristicin. Myristicin can lead to abdominal pain, stomach upset, and disorientation.

7. Desserts

Xylitol - sugar substitute for diabetics or Birch sugar on white wooden background
Image Credit: morisfoto, Shutterstock

Considering the other foods on this list, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to find desserts, in general, here, too. Many holiday desserts contain other foods on this list, like chocolate or dairy, which makes them automatically a no-go for our dogs. But your dog should avoid all sweets.

Not only can these foods contain ingredients that are harmful or toxic, but they usually contain a lot of salt, oil, butter, and fat, which aren’t great for your pet. Something else to consider about desserts is that they might have xylitol, which can be toxic in even small amounts.

Give your pup a dog-friendly treat while you eat your dessert, and everyone should be happy!

8. Ham

Sliced bone in glazed ham on a wooden cutting board
Image Credit: Candice Bell, Shutterstock

Wait, ham? Why would that be dangerous for your dog? Well, for one, ham falls under the “bones, skin, and fat of meat” category. More significant than that, though, is the amount of sodium that ham contains, particularly canned ham. This is one food that has an excess of sodium, which can be harmful to your pet.

Dogs who eat ham can experience vomiting and diarrhea. Pancreatitis is a possibility due to the fat, as well. This is definitely one food you want to keep away from your dog!

9. Holiday Breads

Christmas table setting with a freshly baked sliced festive cake with chocolate and chopped nuts, red teapot, gingerbread cookies
Image Credit: kuvona, Shutterstock

Surely, giving bread to your dog is safe, right? Not so fast! Holiday breads are a bit different from regular breads (although regular white and wheat breads aren’t something you should give your dog often). Holiday breads, such as fruitcakes, usually contain ingredients that are toxic to canines.

These ingredients can include chocolate, nuts, and raisins, all of which can be deadly for dogs. Holiday breads might also have artificial sweeteners, which could mean xylitol is in the bread. You should absolutely avoid giving holiday bread to your favorite pup.

10. Mashed Potatoes & Gravy

homemade mashed potatoes with gravy sauce
Image Credit: gowithstock, Shutterstock

Mashed potatoes and gravy may be absolutely delicious, but this food can cause your dog to have some serious issues. You can probably guess why mashed potatoes and gravy are so bad, too; this dish is loaded with dairy, fat, and sodium! That means this food can cause a host of health issues, ranging from vomiting and diarrhea to pancreatitis.

Stick with a dog treat or dog food that has a bit of gravy to satisfy your dog.

11. Nuts

variety of nuts
Image Credit: ExplorerBob, Pixabay

Not all nuts are toxic for canines, but nuts, in general, are quite unhealthy for dogs. However, some nuts—like macadamia nuts, which show up often in holiday sweets—should be completely off-limits to your canine companion.

Nuts aren’t the healthiest for dogs due to their high fat content and the amount of sodium they contain. They also pose a choking hazard for some pups. But macadamia nuts also come with a risk of mold contamination, which can be deadly.

Avoid giving your dog nuts and stick to regular dog treats instead!

12. Onions, Garlic, and Chives

Garlic bulbs and onions in the wooden box
Image Credit: Miss Pop, Shutterstock

Now, here are foods you’re probably aware your dog shouldn’t have—onions, garlic, chives, or anything else in the Allium family. Anything considered an Allium has something known as N-propyl disulfide, which can wreak havoc with a canine’s red blood cells. The result? Life-threatening anemia.

If your pup eats foods with onions, garlic, or chives, they could end up experiencing diarrhea, vomiting, excessive panting, weakness, and loss of appetite. If they eat too much, it can be fatal. Dogs who eat foods from the Allium family may in the worst case, end up needing blood transfusions.

Never give your dog these foods, and don’t give them other foods that contain these ingredients. If you aren’t sure if a food has garlic, chives, or onions, don’t give it to your dog.

13. Pumpkin Pie

pumpkin pie a Thanksgiving or holiday treat
Image Credit: MSPhotographic, Shutterstock

Pumpkin pie is a holiday staple that contains plenty of ingredients found on this list, such as dairy and spices, that can cause digestive upset in canines. Other ingredients such as nutmeg are also common in this dessert, and to be avoided in dogs.

14. Raisins

Raisins in a wooden spoon
Image Credit: StepanPopov, Shutterstock

Raisins might just be one of the most damaging foods to dogs on this list. Why is that? Because raisins (and grapes!) can lead to acute kidney failure and death, and that can come on quickly.

This also isn’t a food where if your dog eats just a small amount, they’ll automatically be fine. While they could be okay, canines have had fatal reactions to as little as a single raisin or grape. There’s simply no way to tell, so you need to avoid giving your pup anything that might contain raisins (or grapes).

If you think your pet has eaten a raisin or grape, you should get your dog to the vet immediately.

15. Stuffing

Homemade Thanksgiving Stuffing Made with Bread and Herbs
Image Credit: Brent Hofacker, Shutterstock

If you celebrate Thanksgiving, chances are there’s stuffing on the table. Stuffing might seem like a fairly safe bet when it comes to giving it to your dog, but it really isn’t. This is because stuffing contains a lot of items on this list, including onions, spices, and butter, which can be harmful to your pup.

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The holidays may be delightful, but they’re also full of foods that can be harmful or even dangerous to our dogs. So, how can you keep your pet from consuming any holiday foods that may make them ill? The best thing to do is to not give them any bits of food from your plate and request that no one else does either. You should also keep foods off counters and other surfaces your dog can reach. If your pup does consume something they shouldn’t at your next holiday gathering, watch them for signs they may not be feeling well, and call your vet to see if you need to bring them in.

Featured Image Credit: LightField Studios, Shutterstock

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