13 Holiday Foods That are Bad for Dogs


It’s only natural to want to include our furry family members in our holiday dinners and give them a taste of our favorite dishes. But there are many ingredients commonly used in holiday dinners that won’t do dogs any favors. Since holiday recipes can vary widely, it’s best not to feed dogs any prepared dishes, and take extra care to steer clear of these particular ingredients and holiday foods that are bad for dogs:

1. Alcohol
This has the same effect on dogs’ livers and brains as on humans’, but it doesn’t take as much to cause serious damage and can even lead to respiratory distress, tremors, coma, and death. Sorry—no rum cake for Fido!

2. Caffeine
Desserts and other holiday dishes may call for coffee, tea, or chocolate as an ingredient, but they all contain caffeine, which can actually be fatal to canines.

3. Candy
While the sugar in candy isn’t great for dogs, the sweetener xylitol, which is often used nowadays, can actually lead to liver failure, so keep sweets of all kinds away from your pup.

4. Chocolate
In addition to caffeine, chocolate contains theobromine, which can be extremely poisonous when ingested by dogs and may even result in seizures and death, so be sure not leave any chocolates within Fido’s reach.

5. Dairy “products”
Milk, cream, cheese, and butter are bad both for humans and for dogs. They can cause diarrhea and other digestive disturbances as well as allergic reactions in dogs, so leave the dairy-laden foods off their plate this holiday season.

6. Eggnog
Loaded with fat, sugar, milk, raw eggs, and alcohol, this beverage is a quintuple whammy, none of which is good for Fido’s health—or yours, for that matter. Keep Fido safe–don’t let him touch the stuff.

7. Garlic, onions, and chives
This group of ingredients can be found in just about anything from mashed potatoes to stuffing. But in fresh, cooked, powdered, or any other form, it can lead to damaged blood cells and anemia—don’t risk it.

8. Ham and bacon
If anybody in your household tries to sneak a scrap of ham or bacon to your dog, stop them in their tracks. Dishes that contain pork can cause pancreatitis, a potentially life-threatening disease, in dogs.

9. Nutmeg
In significant amounts, this spice can be toxic, causing hallucinations, stomach pain, and possibly even seizures. Other spices can be dangerous, too, so it’s best not to feed dogs treats from your holiday dinner.

10. Nuts
These have a very high fat content and may contain other toxins that can result in stomach upset or other serious health complications. Macadamia nuts, in particular, when fed to your furry family member even in small amounts, can be especially toxic and result in vomiting, tremors, paralysis, rapid heartbeat, and other complications.

11. Raisins and grapes
Consuming these fruits, even in small quantities, may cause rapid kidney failure in some dogs, and fruitcakes are one holiday offering likely to contain them. If you were thinking that you could unload an unwanted fruitcake on your pup, think again. Maybe “regift” it to an unwitting human friend or relative instead.

12. Salt and sugar
Salt abounds in many holiday dishes, and when consumed by dogs can cause excessive thirst, urination, or worse. It’s especially detrimental to dogs with underlying kidney or cardiovascular conditions. Meanwhile, the sugar found in most holiday desserts can fuel cavities, obesity, and even diabetes. It’s also bad for dogs with arthritis.

13. Turkey Bones
If you’re visiting meat-eating family or friends this holiday season, be vigilant that no one sneaks any bones from cruelly killed turkeys to Fido, as cooked bones can perforate the intestines, sometimes even requiring surgery.

So what holiday foods ARE good for dogs? Cooked sweet potatoes (minus any additional ingredients), baked potatoes, pumpkin purée, cucumbers, carrots (steamed or raw), steamed green beans or greens, unsweetened cranberries, bananas, and apples are all good choices—and not just during the holidays. They are highly nutritious and will allow your dog to participate in the feast while remaining happy and healthy!

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