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13 Dangerous Thanksgiving Foods For Dogs

Written by Khalil
Khalil is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Published on
Thursday 1 October 2020
Last updated on
Tuesday 9 May 2023
dangerous thanksgiving foods for dogs
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It’s that time of year again. Thanksgiving is just around the corner and so is the danger of dangerous Thanksgiving foods for dogs. Everybody is hitting the gym, trying to shave off a couple of pounds, preparing to eat themselves to death. It is a carnival of happiness, delight, and gratitude. We give thanks for our blessings and devour a sumptuous feast with family and friends.

However, it’s not just humans that overeat during the holidays. Some of us may also be a bit indulgent with our dogs. Many food items that people enjoy aren’t healthy for pets to consume. In fact, there are actually a lot of toxic Thanksgiving foods for dogs. During these holiday meals, our furry friends often beg for table scraps. It is, therefore, important to remember what dogs can and can’t eat on Thanksgiving. We must also share that with our kind-hearted, unsuspecting guests who might fall for those adorable, furry faces.

There is a whole host of Thanksgiving foods not to feed your dog. Some are toxic, others moderately harmful and a few harmless. Here are all the Thanksgiving foods that are dangerous for dogs:

1. Turkey Bones, Skin & Gravy

You may think that trimmings such as skin and bones might make for a good little snack for Snoopy, but the following will give you some pause for thought. Let’s make no bones about it-don’t throw your pooch a bone. Roasted or not, bones are a big no-no, as far as feeding your dog is concerned. Contrary to common perception, dogs are not supposed to like bones.

Bones can lodge in your dog’s digestive tract, causing intestinal blockage. Their symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and straining during bowel movements. The splinters can tear and lacerate the intestinal walls causing life-threatening infections. Both conditions require surgery. Unless you’re interested in an expensive trip to the vet, don’t give your dog any turkey bones.

Skin and gravy are not toxic to dogs. However, they are reservoirs of fatty content and don’t constitute the most nutritious of diets for your pooch. Dogs have a digestive tract sensitive to fats. These foods can cause stomach upset and, in larger quantities, pancreatitis. That is a serious and life-threatening condition. It can also progress to an abscess of the pancreas. Both conditions require immediate medical attention and the abscess requires surgery.

thanksgiving food bad for dogs
Do not give your dog turkey bones.

2. Stuffing

They say that it is the stuffing that makes the roast. Well, that stuffing or dressing can also make your dog sick. On its own, the dressing’s harmless, but it is usually loaded with seasoning for developing that flavor that makes us lick our fingers.

The seasoning often includes onion and garlic which are at the top of the list in dangerous Thanksgiving foods for dogs. They can cause a breakdown of red blood cells, resulting in anemia. Kidney failure is among its dire complications.

Even ingesting a small amount of these poisons can be deadly. Another popular seasoning is sage which, while delicious and harmless to us, is also toxic to dogs. It contains essential oils that are dangerous for your dog and can cause indigestion and upset your stomach.

3. Casseroles

You should avoid giving your pup any of those casseroles. It is not the food item itself that is harmful but the additives that are toxic. Casseroles are often seasoned with garlic and onions. These ingredients can cause anemia and kidney failure in dogs and may very well be lethal for them.

However, you can prepare dog-safe casseroles at home. Dogs, being omnivores, would love any veggie casserole. Similarly, a chicken casserole would also work just fine. However, even these should be reserved for an occasional treat for your pampered pooch. If you notice anything unusual about your dog after such a treat, do not hesitate to contact your vet.

4. Mashed Potatoes

Of the many Thanksgiving foods on this list, potatoes are among the few that are actually harmless to your dog since they are simple carbohydrates. These nutrients make up a big part of your dog’s everyday diet. They contain vitamin C, vitamin B6, iron, and magnesium.

These vitamins and minerals strengthen the immune and nervous system of dogs. However, the problem arises when these potatoes, mashed or crushed, are seasoned with things that are inedible and downright dangerous for your dog.

Mashed potatoes are often seasoned with garlic and onions which, as mentioned above, are toxic for dogs and can cause life-threatening kidney failure. They should also not be fed to diabetic dogs because they can cause a surge in blood sugar levels. Hence, mashed potatoes are a Thanksgiving food not to feed your dog.

5. Creamed Peas

You should avoid feeding your dog creamed peas. For one, cream is a rich source of fat. Excessive intake of fats is all it takes to turn slick Sam into chubby Carl. Secondly, cream is a milk product. Dogs don’t produce enough lactase enzyme to digest it. Most dogs are also lactose-intolerant. Hence, feeding them any cream will only lead to gas and an upset stomach.

Peas can normally be fed to dogs without any cause for worry. Fresh, frozen, or thawed peas are all equally good. However, you must be careful about pods as they can get stuck in your puppy’s throat and cause choking. Moreover, avoid canned peas too because they contain all sorts of harmful preservatives and seasoning.

6. Cookies, Pies & Sweets

Dogs do seem to have a sweet tooth so, it is your job as a pet owner to make sure that they don’t eat any that’d harm them. Cookies are packed with sugar and, in large quantities, can lead to significant weight gain for your dog. Hence, it is always better to make them at home with healthier ingredients. Dog biscuits are a much better alternative in our opinion. No Thanksgiving spread is complete without a pie made with granny’s secret recipe. Generally, it is also harmless for dogs. Pumpkin pies, in particular, even offer some health benefits such as relieving constipation or diarrhea.

Similarly, apple pies can also be eaten by your dessert-loving dog. However, do not feed it any mince pie as it has toxic ingredients such as garlic and onions. Moreover, pies aren’t a particularly healthy food. In essence, pies are some fruit drowning in sugar and fat and can lead to weight gain. You can do better than that.

Chocolate is among the most toxic Thanksgiving foods for dogs. Unsurprisingly, a large number of pet poisoning cases are caused by eating it in any shape or form. Chocolate contains theobromine. In higher doses, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, elevated blood pressure, and a higher heart rate than normal. It can even lead to seizures and death. The darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is for your dog. Baker’s and dark chocolate are among the most dangerous varieties. Keep all chocolate desserts out of your pup’s reach to avoid an emergency trip to the vet.

7. Raisins and grapes

Along with chocolates, raisins and grapes are among the most toxic food items on this list. When thinking about what foods not to give to dogs during Thanksgiving, grapes should be right up there. Even one or two grapes can kill a small pooch like a Chihuahua.

The minimum toxic dose for raisins is 2.8g per kg. For grapes, it is 19.6g per kg. This means that even a handful of grapes or raisins can kill an average-sized poodle. Hence, make sure that your dog doesn’t get to eat even a little bit of grapes and raisins. If they do, head for the nearest veterinary facility at the earliest.

8. Onions, Scallions & Garlic

As mentioned above, onions and garlic cannot be fed to dogs since onion and the onion family are toxic for canines. They lead to a popping of red blood cells causing anemia (a shortage of oxygen supply to body tissues due to lack of blood). Another complication is kidney failure which can be life-threatening. However, the symptoms take many days or weeks to appear.

Garlic poisoning is rarer than onion poisoning because it is often present in smaller amounts. Early treatment includes inducing vomiting (don’t try that yourself) which can prevent the development of complications. Hence, try to reach the nearest veterinarian facility as soon as possible.

9. Ham

Ham and other pork-based foods are another important entry on our list of dangerous Thanksgiving foods for dogs. They can cause gastrointestinal upset, vomiting, and diarrhea. Furthermore, ham has a high-fat content and can lead to obesity.

Pancreatitis is another dangerous complication. It can contribute a large chunk of your dog’s daily caloric requirement. Simply put, it would be ham-headed of you to feed your all-weather friend a slice of that ham.

10. Yeast Dough

As far as dogs are concerned, yeast doughs are a forbidden fruit. They are toxic and can lead to lethal complications. There are two major concerns; bloating and alcohol poisoning when it comes to yeast dough.

Anyone who has ever worked with yeast knows how quickly and how much it makes the dough rise. Your dog’s warm insides provide the perfect warm and moist environment for that. The dough continues to rise and release gas. That can lead to the distention of the stomach. In greater quantities, it can lead to gastric dilatation volvulus (bloating). In bloating, the stomach twists and that can lead to its rupture, difficulty in breathing, cardiovascular damage, a reduction in blood pressure, and death.

Another problem with ingesting yeast doughs is alcohol poisoning. The yeast produces ethanol (alcohol), as the dough rises which can quickly be absorbed in the bloodstream. Alcohol poisoning is marked by tremors, disorientation, weakness, loss of body temperature, and reduction in blood pressure and sugar levels.

yeast doughs bad for dogs
Dogs should not have yeast dough.

11. Fatty Foods

Thanksgiving foods are often rich in calories and fat. They are entirely suited for dogs. The digestive system of dogs is sensitive to fats. Having a fatty meal can cause stomach upset, diarrhea, and constipation.

Prolonged ingestion of fatty foods can cause pancreatitis which is an inflammation of the pancreas. It is a life-threatening condition and requires immediate veterinary assistance. Moreover, fatty foods can also lead to obesity. Hence, it is best to deny your dog those greasy turkey trimmings.

12. Foods Containing Spices

While dogs have an extraordinary sense of smell, the same cannot be said about their tasting capabilities. As a matter of fact, dogs cannot appreciate spice which is a result of the reaction to capsaicin.

Unlike human beings who have 9000, dogs only have 1,700 taste buds. And it is not just the chili that is harmful, the other ingredients that go along with spicy foods are also a cause of concern. Spicy food often contains onions and garlic which can be lethal for dogs even in small doses.

13. Nuts

Nuts are a staple holiday appetizer. While your guests wait for you to get the turkey out, they can chomp on some of those nuts in anticipation.

However, they can sour the holiday spirit if the household pet gets a hold of them. Most nuts, especially macadamia nuts and walnuts, are toxic for dogs. They can produce serious effects within 12 hours including vomiting, tremors, and inability to stand. These effects usually subside but can lead to death in some cases.

All of us deserve a good holiday season after a tiring and taxing year. On Thanksgiving, we remind ourselves that regardless of the difficulties, there is always something to be thankful for. We celebrate by breaking bread with our families, friends, and loved ones.

In this spirit of gratitude and thankfulness, let us not be oblivious to the dangerous Thanksgiving foods for dogs. We must remember that while our affection is mutual, our diets are not. There is no harm in indulging dogs in our festivities as long as they are not in harm’s way.

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