Does your pup get joyful and triumphant over holiday table scraps?
It happened. Your entire batch of green bean casserole just fell onto the kitchen floor. As you scurry to scoop up the mess, your dogs come running in full charge, and like something out of a horror film, they gobble up the mess just as quickly as you dropped it. And now, your panic over wasted food turns quickly into panic over ingested food. For many of us, this scene is all too familiar, yet it happens more often than we’d like to admit. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared!
So let’s rewind. Before this potential scenario occurs — because it could by either dropped food, scrappy table manners, or your 8-year-old nephew hand feeding under the table … ugghh — here are 28 foods and spices both safe or toxic for your dog to eat over the holidays.
Pieces of unseasoned, cooked, boneless turkey are a great treat for your pup. We recommend unseasoned to reduce the risk for potential, accidental ingestion of seasonings your pup should avoid — like garlic and/or onion powder.
Carrots are a great snack for your dog! They’re a high source of fiber, potassium, vitamin A, and more. Cold or frozen carrots are even great for teething pups. If your dog prefers soft food, try steaming some carrots for a healthy snack, or even incorporate into their regular food.
When we think “Thanksgiving”, we see cranberries. They’re a great treat for dogs in moderation! They’re both high in nutrients and antioxidants and can boost your dog’s immune system as well as decrease inflammation. You’ll want to avoid cranberry sauce or juice as this is loaded with sugar.*
Green beans and nutrients, let us count the ways! The list would be long… Raw or steamed green beans are a great treat or whole food addition for dogs and are packed with essential vitamins and nutrients. There’s also a great deal of veterinarian evidence to support green beans as a healthy way for dogs to lose weight.
Along with being rich in vitamins and nutrients, sweet potatoes are a great source of energy (carbohydrates) for pups. According to renowned Dr. Rachel Barrack, licensed veterinarian and certified veterinary acupuncturist out of NYC, “the health benefits are the same for canines as they are for people.”
Natural canned or pureed pumpkin is a fantastic source of fiber for your pooch. We don’t believe we’ve ever met a dog who doesn’t like pumpkin! It’s also known to ease an upset tummy. Give their wet or dry food an extra boost of nutrition by mixing this in.
FYI: Raw pumpkin is toxic!
Not all dogs prefer a sweet taste, but if yours does, raw apple slices are a great treat! Don’t worry too much about apple seeds, though it’s likely best to just cut the seeds out as they contain small amounts of cyanide that can build up in their body over time. Also, thoroughly wash your apples as they’ve likely been sprayed with pesticides and contain a layer of wax to give it that shiny look. Bleh…
While there’s no nutritional reason dogs can’t eat beets, keep in mind that it would take a lot of beets to provide them adequate nutrients. However, if you’re going to serve your dog a couple beets, it’s best to chop them up and cook them first to reduce potential choking hazard. Beets contain a natural dye so be mindful where you serve. Some dogs may be allergic, so it’s best to consult with your vet beforehand, or in the event of accidental ingestion.
Small amounts of sprinkled cinnamon is non-toxic to dogs (not to be confused with nutmeg, which can be toxic), but don’t give them holiday treats meant for humans. To include them in on the holiday festivities, sprinkle a little bit of cinnamon on an apple and/or sweet potato treat. “…Keep in mind, it takes a larger amount of ingested cinnamon powder to cause problems in our pets (greater than 1tsp for most pets).” —Pet Poison Helpline
Accidental mint or peppermint leaf ingestion if not toxic to dogs. In fact, it may even help freshen their breath! But don’t confuse this minty leaf with minty holiday treats meant for humans, as they 99.9% likely contain a lot of chocolate, which is not safe.
Parsley is packed with chlorophyll and is another great breath freshener for your pup. It has a powerhouse amount of vitamin K, and a great amount of vitamin A and C, as well as iron. Sprinkle some parsley on your dog’s regular food for a little boost.
Turmeric is a yellow-orange spice that is a wonderful addition to a dog’s treat or regular food. It’s likely you’ll even find it listed as an ingredient in their kibble for color enhancement. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, provides anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, anticancer, and antioxidant benefits (for both dogs and humans!).
According to Steve Marsden, DVM, ND MSOM Lac DipICH AHG of VCA Hospitals, “the most well-known medical use of ginger is as an antiemetic (prevention of nausea and vomiting) … One potential use for ginger in small animals is in the relief or prevention of gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV or bloat) in dogs. Ginger has been used for many years in pets in the treatment of vomiting and cardiovascular disorders.”
Grapes and raisins look harmless but can cause illness and kidney damage in dogs.
Onions can damage the healthy red blood cells in your pup, leading to life-threatening anemia.
The ingredients in stuffing, such as onions, grapes, raisins (as well as potential seasonings like garlic or onion powder), are toxic to dogs. But don’t panic! If these are ingested, it’s best to call your vet and take your dog to your local emergency clinic as soon as possible.
Typical mashed potatoes contain milk, sour cream and/or butter which are too heavy on a dog’s digestive system and can also trigger food allergies.
Gravy contains too much sodium, which can make your dog seriously dehydrated. Alternative: low-sodium store-bought or homemade broth over their food.
The reason behind the doggie toxicity of this yummy nut is still unknown. Consumption of macadamia nuts can cause diarrhea, vomiting, or muscle weakness. Most toxicity cases have been known to be mild, but more serious cases can potentially be lethal and should require veterinary attention, especially if your dog is showing symptoms of continuous shaking
Let’s err on the side of caution. Sweets are meant for human consumption and are likely to contain the artificial sweetener, xylitol, which can cause your dog’s blood sugar to drop and trigger liver failure. Because liver failure can occur within a few days of consumption, it’s best to call your vet right away if consumed. Additionally, marshmallows, a frequent holiday ingredient, may contain xylitol. Always check ingredients for xylitol first and reach out to your vet if unsure.
No bacon or bacon grease for small or large pups! Sorry…but not sorry! Because of the excess amount of salt and fat in bacon and bacon grease, the pancreas gland can become inflamed. When this gland becomes inflamed, the pancreas can cease to function efficiently. Commence pancreatitis…
Chocolate, including cocoa powder, is likely the most well-known of do-nots for doggie consumption. Theobromine is a bitter alkaloid found in the cocoa plant. It can cause dogs to vomit and have diarrhea. It can also unfortunately cause heart problems, tremors, seizures and death. Keep your chocolate goodies away on a high shelf, inside a cupboard, or in the fridge, and contact your vet or local emergency clinic if ingested (and bring the wrappers if possible!).
Seems like a natural way of sharing food, but both cooked or uncooked, meat fat and/or bones can cause pancreatitis in pooches. Bird bones, especially, can splinter, cut, or block their digestive tracts. So, don’t do it! And don’t let Grandpa do it under the table either!
Best to err on the side of caution as most wild mushrooms are toxic to dogs. Should mushrooms be consumed by your doggo, give your vet a call as soon as you can, and provide photos is possible so any mushrooms can be identified
Did you know alcohol affects a dog the same as it does a human, but it takes far less for the effects to become harmful? As tempting as it may be to share a brewsky with your dog-bro, just don’t. Alternative: try a dog-friendly brew made without alcohol, like our local Kansas City Beer Paws!
Both onion and garlic powder are more potent than the fresh root veggie. Please check the labels on your Thanksgiving ingredients and hide (up high) that large container of fried onion.
Easily confused with cinnamon, nutmeg is indeed toxic to dogs. When sprinkling nutmeg on your nog or holiday treat, keep your shaker away from furry companions. Nutmeg contains a toxin called myristicin. Small amounts of nutmeg can cause stomach upset, but ingesting large amounts can cause an array of awful symptoms including (but not limited to) disorientation, dry mouth, abdominal pain, and even seizures.
Too much sodium can make your dog seriously dehydrated and can also cause sodium ion poisoning – yikes! Dog kibble contains safe amounts of sodium so there’s no need to add more. Symptoms of over-consumption are excessive thirst or urination, vomiting, and more. If you’re wanting to add a boost of flavor to your dog’s food, instead of more salt, try a no-sodium (homemade or store-bought) veggie broth.
Signs your dog has ingested something (or too much of something) they shouldn’t have:
- Decreased appetite
- Excessive thirst or urination
- Uncontrollable shaking
- Coordination Problems
Our best advice is to be cognizant of your kitchen surroundings when preparing for all the upcoming holiday meals. Toxic ingestions increase during this time of year and we want your companion animals safe. Keep items stored high in cupboards and pushed away from the edge of kitchen countertops when cooking.
If you feel your dog has ingested something (or too much of something) they shouldn’t have, call your vet or local emergency clinic as soon as possible. Consult with your vet before ever feeding your dog something new.
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Shayne has a few years experience in digital marketing, content creation and animal care, with her previous role as New Media Intern at The Humane League. In her free-time she loves to cycle (with her dog on her back) and practice yoga. A social cause she cares about is climate change, the welfare of factory farmed animals, and racial equality. Her favorite food is vegan mac & cheese.