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5 Extremely Toxic Holiday Foods for Dogs

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Tis the time of year for family parties, lavish feasts, and PRESANTS! Holiday season surely is a time for over indulgence, indigestion, and feeling full beyond belief. With all the glorious foods you may be inspired to share a morsel or two with Fido and Fifi. Find out the 5 extremely toxic holiday foods for dogs that will be passed around your tables.

I was at my vets office today. They always have little pamphlets out about pet safety, seasonal parasite, or general information. This time the title read, “Tips to Keep Your pet Safe This Thanksgiving”. Thanksgiving and Christmas are my favorite holidays for the sole reason there is soooooo much good food. I love to eat, and guess what, so do my Goldies! It’s hard not give into those sweet sweet puppy eyes begging for a scrap of this or that, but just like my human children, I have to pull up my big-girl panties and say, “NO!”

As much as I would LOVE to share everything on the Holiday menue with my furkids I know that most it could make them sick and some of it could end up costing me a fortune. It seems silly to think a little sliver of turkey or some stuffing could hurt Fido, but it really could. In 2009 alone over 17,000 calls to ASPCA Animal Poison Control regarding people food and pets were placed. It does happen and can cost upwards of $8,000 to treat.  No one wants to spend Thanksgiving or Christmas in an emergency room worried about their furbbies.

What Food Should You Avoid?

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A dogs digestive system is actually very sensitive and giving you pet human food can give them quite the tummy ache. Turkey, ham, and gravy van lead to diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain, but they can also lead to something worse. The high fat content in these food can led to pancreatits. Simply put, pancreatitis is an inflammation of the dogs pancreas, but it is so much more than that. The pancreas is responsible for releasing enzymes that aid digestion and that only become active in their small intestine. When inflamed, these normally helpful enzymes become active right after they are released which can cause damage to the pancreas itself and surrounding organs and tissues. In severe cases enzymes can actually start to digest the pancreas itself. This can cause severe pain and can be fatal. Unfortunately, the symptoms of pancreatitis are the same as a sick tummy diarrhea, loss of appetite, vomiting, bloating, weakness, lethargy, fever, and hunched back. Closely monitor any dog exhibiting any one of these symptoms if they are infrequent, but if they are repeatedly exhibited or more than one symptom is presenting itself, seek immediate medical care.

Avoid feeding your dogs raw meat. I know feeding raw has become quite the fad recently and dogs technically can digest it, but so can we. For the same reasons that you shutter at the thought of pulling that raw chicken breast out of the fridge and taking a huge bite your dog should not eat it either. Just like you and me dogs are susceptible to salmonella and other bacteria found on raw meat, therefore, if you are considering feeding a raw diet, cook it first, just to be on the safe side.

Toxic Holiday Foods Dogs Should NEVER Eat


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We love onions! You can find them everywhere and in almost every dish we eat for our holiday dinners in one form or another. From our Turkey to the stuffing onions are found chopped, diced,  and powdered, but no matter the form they are one of the most toxic holiday foods for dogs. Onions contain disulfides and thiosulphates which can damage to your pets red blood cells leading to anemia. Symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea, breathlessness., lethargy, pale or “muddy” gums, rapid breathing, and an elevated heart rate.

Grapes and Raisins

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Due to their prevalence raisins and grapes pose a real threat to your pooch during the holiday season. Raisins have been a long-time staple of the holiday season, especially in baked goods. Cookies, fruit cakes, pies, bread, and just like onions, everything else! Grapes have started to show up in fruit salad and yummy Jell-O molds with more regularity. In either form, fresh or dried, grapes are deadly to your furry friends.

Although the exact chemical has yet to be identified the smallest portion of grapes can cause your pets to suddenly go into kidney failure and lose the ability to produce urine. If your dog ingests even one grape or raisin you need to seek immediate medical attention. Symptoms of grape poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy, weakness, abdominal pain, dehydration, passing only small amounts of urine or a complete cessation of urine, foul breath, oral ulcers, tremors, seizures, and coma.

Sugar Free Candies

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Candy dishes are out in masses which is why xylitol is one of our toxic holiday foods. More and more our sugar free candies and gum are being sweetened with the natural sweetener xylitol. Xylitol is an extremely toxic food to our four legged furbabies even in small doses. Just 50 milligrams of xylitol can stimulate the dogs pancreas to rapidly release insulin resulting in hypoglycemia ( a dangerous drop in blood sugar) . If left untreated this can result in liver damage and death. Therefore, I strongly recommend not bringing candies or foods containing xylitol into the home, eliminating the risk all together.


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Tis the season for festive wrapped chocolate filled candy dishes. Who can say no to those shinny bits of chocolatey goodness, certainly not your dog. If it is anywhere within their reach your pooch will most definitely take part, like every part. Chocolate contains theobromine which in large doses can cause muscle tremors, seizures, an irregular heartbeat, internal bleeding, or a heart attack. Dark chocolate, cocoa, and baking chocolate have the highest concentrations of theobromine. As little as an ounce of dark chocolate can cause severe health complications.

Raw Yeasted Bread Dough

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There is nothing better than freshly baked bread just make sure that your pup doesn’t get into it before it goes in the oven. Raw yeasted bread dough poisoning can become a very serious condition very quickly. Raw bread dough has activated yeast which thrives in your pooch’s digestive tract expanding in their stomach putting pressure on surrounding organs causing difficulty breathing and abdominal pain. Because the dough is very sticky and glutenous, your pup might begin to vomit but bring nothing up.  The yeast will then begin to ferment flooding your pooch’s system with alcohol. Alcohol poisoning is just as bad for Fido as it is for you; it can cause inebriation, loss of coordination, and can also depress the nervous system.

If that isn’t bad enough, yeasted dough has one more trick up it’s sleeve. Possibly the scariest complication from yeasted dough is Gastric Dilation and Volvulus, GDC. Because the yeast mimics bloat in the dog it therefore can lead to the stomach becoming misaligned and twisting. Symptoms of yeast dough poisoning include a distended stomach, unproductive vomiting, difficulty breathing, disorientation, excessive salivation with drooling, high heart rate, depression, weakness, low body temperature, seizures, and coma. Dogs with suspected yeast dough poisoning need to seek medical treatment immediately.

Wait, NO, That’s Poison?!

We all try to be as safe as possible, but accidental poisonings still occur. Most importantly, if you suspect Fido ate any one of these toxic holiday foods call the ASPCA Poison Control at 888-426-4435.

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In short, the safest way for your dog to enjoy the holidays with you and your family is not partaking in the holiday meal, but by just spending quality time with them. So, make sure everyone knows NOT to feed Fifi from the table no matter how cute she begs. No one wants to spend the holidays in an emergency room waiting for word of their loved one. Dogs will benefit more from your love and affection than from slipping them treats under the tablecloth. Trust me, they will not hold it against you or feel your being stingy. Above all, your dog will love you no matter what and be able to love you for the rest of their lives. So, let’s keep everyone as happy and healthy this holiday season as we can.

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