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Thanksgiving Foods Dogs Can and Cannot Eat

Updated on November 24, 2014

For Thanksgiving Day Keep Certain Foods Away

Thanksgiving foods not to feed dogs
Thanksgiving foods not to feed dogs | Source

What Foods Are Ok and No Way to Feed Dogs for Thanksgiving Day?

Thanksgiving: a smorgasbord of foods are served on the table offering a feast for the senses. Voluptuous smells, enticing sights, and scrumptious flavors abound on the kitchen table. If you think you are hungry enough, don't be surprised if your four-legged friend is licking its chops in desire. Equipped with an average of 220 million olfactory receptors (humans have a mere 5 million) it comes as no wonder why dogs may be so interested in those tasty foods being served. Add to that the sight of perhaps the biggest bird ever seen in their life, and you have the recipe for a hungry dog!

As much as it may feel like doing a disservice to your dog by tossing some Thanksgiving leftovers, truth is, there are some foods you may be thankful you did not feed this Thanksgiving. Just think that veterinary hospitals see a boost in profits near the holidays often because dogs were voluntarily, or accidentally, fed foods they were not supposed to eat. Veterinarian Eric Barchas for a good reason refers to the day after Thanksgiving as "National Day of Canine Pancreatitis."

List of Thanksgiving Foods Dogs Cannot Eat

After smelling that turkey graciously roasting in the oven for over three hours, it is not unusual to see your dog exhibit a classic example of Pavlovian drool. While your dog may be eyeballing those tasty turkey leftovers being tossed in the trash, you may want to think twice before giving in to those pleading eyes.

Stuff the Turkey not the Dog

The problem with turkey is its fatty content which may make some dogs prone to a serious condition known as ''pancreatitis''. Pancreatitis, is the inflammation of the pancreas which leads to loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. While a little bit of white meat from the turkey may do not harm, feeding too much may predispose dogs to this condition, explains veterinarian Christina Frick, owner of Frick Veterinary Services in Larned, KS. It is a good idea to limit feeding turkey therefore, and if a little must be fed, at least avoid feeding dark turkey meat, skin and bones.

Ham and Bacon Galore

Other problem foods are ham and bacon for the same reasons. Both these foods can be quite greasy. Ham and bacon indeed are one the main causes of pancreatitis in dogs year round. Avoid therefore any foods that are generally greasy regardless of how hungry your dog may appear to be.

Mashed Potatoes

Potatoes aren't a major problem per se but mashed potatoes often contain a great amount of butter, milk and sour cream that can trigger a bout of pancreatitis in a sensitive dog. Many times, garlic and onion along with spices are added as well.

Raw Bread Dough

Leaving a loaf of bread to rise on the kitchen counter is counter-productive if you own a beloved canine companion. Should the dog ingest the raw bread dough, the internal bodily heat will cause the dough to rise in the dog's stomach, predisposing the dog to vomiting, intense abdominal pain and a serious, potentially deadly condition known as ''bloat'' explains veterinarian Bill Craig.


Raisins can be found in a variety of Thanksgiving dishes ranging from oatmeal cookies, to turkey stuffing and old-fashioned puddings. As innocent as raisins may appear to be, they are likely to cause kidney failure in dogs. Problems in particular seem to occur when fed in large quantities over time.

Onion and Garlic

These popular members of the allium family along with leeks, chives and scallions, predispose dogs and cats to a form of anemia, known as ''Heinz anemia''. These ingredients are often rubbed on turkey, or added to turkey stuffing, string beans and mashed potatoes. While in small quantities they may do no harm, it's the larger quantities to create problems, according to PetMD.

Walnuts and Macadamia Nuts

No party seems complete without a nice variety of crunchy nuts perhaps served with a cocktail. Make sure not to drop them on the floor when Rover is on premises though. The risks here are for serious symptoms such as weakness, tremors and depression , not to mention the potential for pancreatitis derived from their fatty content, further adds Dr. Bill Craig.


Most dog owners know their pampered pooches should avoid at all costs getting a chocolate fix, but that tray of brownies or plate of baker's chocolate left unattended for just a second or two on the counter, may ruin the best holidays with a trip to the animal ER. The risky ingredient in chocolate is '' theobromine'' known for causing hyperactivity, seizures, and even death, when eaten in a sufficient amount to cause trouble. Not sure if your dog ate chocolate a toxic amount? You can have a rough idea by using this free helpful Chocolate Toxicity Calculator offered by WebMD.


Most grandmas want to make everybody happy at family gatherings and often this means leaving candy out for the kids. Candy can be a potential choking hazard for dogs, but from a toxicity level, problems may occur with candies containing the sugar substitute ''xylitol''. Diabetics often use this product to bake sweets, but it can be found in chewing gums, sugar-free cupcakes and general sugar-free candy.

Other Problem Foods

And obviously, dogs should be also kept away from alcoholic drinks, bones, fatty foods and ultimately, the garbage bin, full of left-over goodies. So this Thanksgiving day, stuff the turkey, and if you want, stuff your guests, but please do not stuff Rover with potentially harmful foods.

So this Thanksgiving day, keep these foods away from your pampered pooch. You may stuff the turkey and stuff your guests, but avoid stuffing poor Rover with harmful leftovers, and you will be much thankful you did.

So What Thanksgiving Foods can Dogs Eat?

If your dog is prone to digestive upset and has a sensitive stomach or if your dog has certain food allergies, you may want to play it safe and skip giving any left overs. Even dogs who don't have sensitive stomachs may get the occasional stomach upset when new foods are added to their regular diets. Said so, if you still wish to give your dog something, here are a few Thanksgiving foods that should be safer. As always, giving just a little, and the simpler the better, goes a long way and always keep an eye on your dog for signs of an upset stomach.

  • A little bit of turkey may do no harm; however, as veterinarian Christina Frick mentioned, make sure it's white meat only and avoid the brown. Of course, no bones or skins.
  • Simple bread shouldn't be a problem, but again, consider how rich the bread is. If your bread is full of butter, garlic, spices, better avoid it.
  • Green beans in their simplest form are a healthy addition to dog food, but if you give them a fancy twist for Thanksgiving by adding butter, spices and topping them with canned onions,they're no longer be healthy. Much better to use the low-sodium ones.
  • Mashed potatoes are for the most part OK, as long as they're free of too many condiments like cheese, sour cream, onions, or gravy.
  • With mac and cheese you may want to skip the version loaded with cheese and condiments. Plain pasta with little salt is more acceptable.
  • If you are making pumpkin pie, a little bit of plain pumpkin is also OK as long as it's not the type with spices added.
  • According to Pet MD cranberry sauce won't do harm, as long as you give a tiny bit as this is very high in sugar.
  • According to the Pet Poison Helpline, sweet potatoes are safe for dogs. Sweet potatoes are a healthy vegetable that some dog owners feed regularly to their dog's homemade diet. Of course, again avoid if loaded with butter, brown sugar glaze, marshmallow and other seasonings.

And of course, keep your dog out of the trash can. Countless dog owners work extra hard to keep their dogs away from all the food and forget about the trash can. The dog sneaks there when no one is looking and soon your dog will be part of the "National Pancreatitis day."

Disclaimer: this article is not to be used as a substitute for professional veterinary advice. If your dog is sick, please see your vet immediately.

Alexadry© all rights reserved, do not copy.

Are you planning to feed your pooch some Thanksgiving leftovers?

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    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      4 years ago

      Every time new foods are added there are chances for digestive upset. The quantity fed can also make quite a difference.

    • Charity Squid profile image

      Charity Squid 

      7 years ago

      I fed my dog some white turkey meat. I think a little to much, cause the next day he had the runs. He also ate really fast. Thanks for the info. Nice hub!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 

      7 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Very useful and timely hub. I was familiar with most of the no-nos on the list, but I wouldn't think about turkey being dangerous. Thanks for writing this. Voted up!

    • Ann Marie Dwyer profile image

      Red Dwyer 

      7 years ago from Crandall, TX

      Good list for all dog lovers. Great hub, Red.


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