10 Holiday Foods That Are Dangerous For Your Pet

It’s natural to want to spoil your pets on Thanksgiving and other holidays. But sharing your meal can have unexpected consequences. Read on to learn which traditional holiday foods are dangerous for pets.

Big beige dog with turkey.

Avoid a Thanksgiving emergency

Imagine the scene… the table set with dazzling splendor for a beautiful holiday meal. There’s delicious turkey with all the trimmings, the whole family is gathered, your pup’s head is resting on your lap and your cat is perched over your shoulder. It’s a picture straight from a pet friendly holiday card! But you don’t want your nice day to end with a trip to the emergency room – or worse. So avoid these holiday dishes.

Holiday foods dangerous for pets

poultry bones

The cooking process dehydrates the poultry bones and makes them brittle. If your pet eats them, they can splinter and puncture their stomach or intestines. To avoid accidents and eliminate the temptation to counter-surf, dispose of the carcass once the turkey is butchered and clear the table when you’re done eating.

Turkey skin

Many holiday dishes, like turkey skin and gravy, are high in fat and difficult for pets to digest. This type of food can cause a very painful condition called pancreatitis, which also causes vomiting, diarrhea, and weakness. No particular pleasure is worth taking that risk. So if you don’t want to eat it, throw the turkey skin in the trash can.

Yellow lab dog in front of table with people clinking glasses.


We all know that alcohol poisoning is a human reality. But did you know that alcohol is even more toxic to pets than it is to humans? Combine their smaller size and lack of tolerance, and sharing your adult drink could land you in the emergency vet. Signs that your pet is in trouble include reeling and diminished reflexes, followed by a slowed breathing rate, cardiac arrest and death. The best way to keep your pets safe is for you and your guests to keep your drinks out of the reach of prying noses.

READ MORE ⇒ What You Should Know About Emergency Vets (Before You Need One)


Garlic and onions contain thiosulfate, which causes red blood cells to burst in cats and dogs and can lead to hemolytic anemia. Onions pose the highest risk of toxicity — consuming a very small amount can have serious effects. Symptoms to look out for include shortness of breath, lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea. Garlic contains significantly less thiosulfate, and whether the pet could ingest enough to cause harm is debatable. In small doses, the health benefits of garlic seem to outweigh the potential risks.

Different types of nuts

Macadamia nuts and pistachios are very high in fat and can cause the pancreatitis described above. Additionally, macadamias reportedly contain an unknown toxin that can lead to neurological symptoms. Pets have trouble digesting almonds, walnuts, and pecans, and these nuts are large enough to cause intestinal obstruction in smaller animals. There are definitely other snacks that your pet would prefer.

Cat smelling a peach pie on wooden table with fresh fruit, kettle, fork and knife.


Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, both of which are toxic to cats and dogs. Different forms of chocolate contain more or less of these substances, with dry cocoa powder containing the most and white chocolate containing the least. Dogs and cats have excellent noses, making it easy for them to sniff out your hiding spots. Be sure to store your chocolate in a place that is protected from pets.

READ MORE ⇒ Tips for a considerate guest with pets

grapes and raisins

In 1989, a computerized toxicity database helped veterinarians identify grapes and raisins as the cause of sudden kidney failure in dogs. Although the actual toxin has not yet been identified, it is clear that raisins contain a more concentrated amount – ingestion of even small amounts has been fatal to both cats and dogs. Vomiting and hyperactive behavior are the first signs of poisoning. Diarrhea can occur and after 24 hours the pet can become anorexic, lethargic and depressed. Ultimately, the kidneys can fail. Therefore, it is important to keep desserts, dressings or fruit baskets that contain raisins or grapes away from your cat and dog.

Doughs with yeast

It may sound unlikely, but your pet’s stomach is the perfect environment for bread to rise. Raw dough eaten by your pet can expand in their stomach and cause vomiting, severe abdominal pain, and bloating. When preparing buns or desserts, make sure your pet doesn’t try the treats before they’re done.


This popular spice, commonly used to flavor pumpkin pie, sweet potatoes and my favorite holiday drink, Tom and Jerry’s, should never be fed to your pets. Nutmeg, which has mild hallucinogenic properties, can cause seizures, tremors, and central nervous system problems. Shock and even death have been reported in severe cases. Plain squash and sweet potatoes are good for your pets, so set aside some to share with them before adding other ingredients.


Because pets do not have appreciable levels of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk), milk and other dairy products can give them diarrhea or other digestive disorders that can lead to dehydration. Be sure to limit the amount of dairy your pets eat as part of other foods you might give them.

Buster and Ty with their Thanksgiving turkey

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Healthier holiday treats for pets

If you just can’t resist your dog or cat’s doggy eyes, stuff in some turkey, some plain sweet potatoes, some green beans and a dollop of mashed potatoes KONG. yes they do KONGs for cats! A small amount of food will keep him busy for a long time. And you can enjoy your meal guilt-free.

If your dog or cat eats any of the holiday foods that are hazardous to pets, contact the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Pet Poison Control at 1-888-426-4435 or your local veterinary clinic.

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