The 8 Foods Not To Feed To Dogs This Holiday Season

Written by Justin Sexton
Published: November 14, 2023
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The holiday season is right around the corner. People anticipate the upcoming Thanksgiving feasts and Christmas dinners. You can’t forget the food that comes along with New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day after partying the night before. One thing is for sure, most dogs are also looking forward to freshly cooked foods as they celebrate with their owners. Although those puppy eyes can be irresistible, human owners should remember that there can be consequences for feeding their dogs the wrong types of food this holiday season. Keep reading to see the healthier alternatives to feed dogs.


Holiday glazed sliced ham

Sliced Ham

©VeselovaElena/iStock via Getty Images

If you think that dogs can eat ham, well, the truth is, they can’t. Ham and similar pork products are fatty meats that can give dogs certain side effects. Some of those effects include diarrhea, vomiting, and even pancreatitis. The high-calorie count can cause them to gain some unhealthy weight. The excessive salts in store-bought ham can even be toxic to dogs. They can contain high nitrates and nitrites, which are ham preservatives. Excess nitrates and nitrites can cause excessive thirst and urination, lethargy, and vomiting, and can cause serious kidney damage if they overeat for a certain period of time.

Turkey Skin

Homemade Roasted Thanksgiving Day Turkey

Homemade Roasted Thanksgiving Day Turkey with all the Sides

©bhofack2/iStock via Getty Images

Turkey should be healthy right? Usually, dog food can have turkey with skin on it along with chicken, which can have their skin cooked like turkeys. Turkey can be found inside dog food formulas. So could they eat turkey? It’s both yes and no to a certain degree. This traditional Thanksgiving dish contains a certain amino acid called tryptophan that can upset dogs if consumed in large quantities. The turkey skin can also upset their stomachs and cause pancreatitis due to the high grease and seasoning content.


Homemade thanksgiving stuffing in a white bowl

Homemade Thanksgiving stuffing in a white bowl.

©bhofack2/iStock via Getty Images

This Thanksgiving dish is something that shouldn’t be fed to dogs. The stuffing can contain several seasonings that can upset dogs’ stomachs. Plus stuffing usually contains olives, chives, onions, and leeks that dogs shouldn’t consume. Onions and garlic are also foods that cats shouldn’t consume.

Leftover Bones

bones isolated on white background

bones isolated on a white background

©Palii Oleg/

Dogs are obsessed with bones. But why? Dogs chew on bones to release endorphins, aka, the “feel good hormones” and help relieve some stress. It can help them get in touch with their natural instinct and provide mental stimulation. Not only that, but it can alleviate the dog’s boredom and keep them from possible destructive behavior.

Now why are leftover bones bad? Cooked poultry bones have a greater risk of splinting inside their stomachs. It can create a possible risk of internal bleeding if it punctures an organ. The cooked bones can also be a potential choking hazard.


chocolate bars and pralines with sprinkle cocoa powder

Tiny pieces of chocolate.


Chocolate is a popular Christmas snack and one of the more popular holiday foods on other holidays like Halloween and Easter. It’s also one of the most known foods that dogs can not eat. How come? It contacts small traces of caffeine and this little thing called theobromine. Humans can easily digest theobromine; dogs can not. Dogs digest theobromine and caffeine much slower than humans. The build-up of those two things can cause a thing called chocolate toxicosis.

Chocolate toxicosis results from overconsumption of methylxanthine-containing chocolate products. Chocolate toxicosis can result in agitation, hypothermia, restlessness, and even seizures in severe cases.

Mashed Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes with Melted Butter

A bowl of delicious mashed potatoes with melted butter.

©Fudio/iStock via Getty Images

Mashed potatoes might be easy for dogs to chew through, but they’re not an ideal holiday food for dogs to eat. When the potatoes are cooked in a different way, they’re actually healthy for dogs to consume. However, the mashed potatoes can contain a high amount of milk and butter. Several dogs are lactose intolerant so the dairy content can cause excessive diarrhea. If a dog isn’t lactose intolerant, then it can upset their stomachs slightly.

It also has to be noted that casseroles aren’t a good holiday food to feed to dogs. It’s another food that’s high in dairy content with milk, shredded cheese, sour cheese, and similar dairy products that can make up a casserole.

Raw Dough

Raw pizza dough

©V. Matthiesen/

Whether it’s bread or cookie dough, you shouldn’t be feeding your pet raw dough. Raw dough can cause bloating and possible fatal symptoms. Cooking food on Christmas day and feeding the raw dough to the dog can also cause other symptoms like nausea and vomiting. Be aware of feeding dogs baked goods as they contain nuts, chocolate, and other things that can affect a dog’s health. For example, dogs can’t have walnuts as they can cause gastrointestinal issues. Macadamia nuts can cause symptoms such as weakness, vomiting, hyperthermia, and even ataxia.


Chihuahua eyeing its owner's beer

Chihuahua eyeing its owner’s beer.

©Claire Lucia/

Alcohol is extremely toxic to dogs as it can be for humans. It is a depressant, so it can slow down dogs’ heart rates, blood pressure, and blood sugar. If a dog consumes too much alcohol, the alcohol poisoning can get severe to the point where they go through respiratory issues and seizures. So it is not best to make a dog drink alcohol at any point during the holiday season.

So far we talked about several holiday foods not to feed your dog this holiday season, but what are some holiday foods that you can feed your dogs? Here are some foods that you can feed to your dog, but in moderation.

  • Raw bones- This would be different from the cooked bones entry earlier in the list. They can technically eat raw meat and bones, but that doesn’t mean that they should. The FDA suggests that one shouldn’t feed dogs raw meat and bones. They can contain bacteria and pathogens that can affect not just dogs’ stomachs, but also human stomachs.
  • Pumpkins- Pumpkin pie is a popular food choice for Thanksgiving. The dogs can enjoy plain pumpkin puree. It’s better for their digestion than eating the pumpkin with the pumpkin flesh. The puree also has a higher concentration of nutrients and fiber. But one slice wouldn’t hurt a man’s best friend.
  • Potatoes- Plain and sweet potatoes are both good for dogs! When it comes to russet potatoes, they can have plain slices, chopped or diced potatoes as long as there isn’t too much seasonings or salt on them. Sweet potatoes are a healthier alternative than white potatoes. Just remember to make sure there isn’t too much sugar or marshmallows in the sweet potato pie slice for the dog.
  • Carrots- The dogs can love the crunchy texture of carrots and enjoy some of the benefits that humans get from carrots. The carrots can clean plaque off of dogs’ teeth. Some dog foods are made with carrots as one of their recipes so it might not be foreign to all dogs.
  • Apples- Apples are healthy snacks that dogs can have in small bites. Cut them into small pieces, remove the seeds, and the dogs can enjoy them. They’re filled with different vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, phosphorus, and calcium, making them a healthy snack alternative.
  • Berries- Berries are another healthy fruit alternative that’s very good for dogs. As long as they don’t contain grapes, the berries are fine. Some berries that dogs can eat are cranberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries. They strengthen the immune system by providing many different antioxidants. Just be mindful of the sugar levels in the berries so they don’t get too much sugar in their system.
  • Green Beans- This is a healthy vegetable that’s best served lightly steamed and served chopped in small slices. Green beans are packed with vitamins such as A, B6, C, and K. The green beans can be a great light snack for dogs whenever they present owners with those signature puppy eyes.

The photo featured at the top of this post is ©

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About the Author

Justin is an A-Z Animals Writer that loves to cover places, unique natural disasters, and travel. He has eight years of experience as a writer in the medical and media fields. He wrote for the likes of VCU Health, theMSQshop, PayDay LA, and Comic Book Resources under the penname Jay Guevara. Although he's a full time writer, Justin graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2019 with a Bachelors in Health, Physical Education, and Exercise Science with a background in Community Engagement. After spending over two decades in Richmond, Virginia, Justin now resides in the suburbs of Rancho Cucamonga, California. He's a dedicated gymrat. He's also a two-time poetry author who's influenced by rappers Joe Budden and IDK along with Dante Alighieri.

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