How to Keep Your Dog Safe Around the Holiday Table

Finding the perfect holiday foods for your dog - A dog outdoors with its owner enjoying a meal.

Does your always-hungry hound scarf up every crumb as soon as it hits the floor? Then you may want to ban these popular foods from your holiday celebrations. As delicious as they are to eat, most holiday foods can cause tummy distress or even serious health issues for your dog.

Not to mention the pounds you and your pet can gain from overindulging this holiday season. Better keep your running shoes and that great hands-free leash handy in order to stave off any post-holiday plumpness and enjoy the health benefits of running with your dog!

Holiday Foods That Are Toxic for Dogs

According to Leticia Fanucchi, assistant professor of veterinary clinical sciences at Oklahoma State University, here are some of the popular holiday foods that you definitely should not share with your dog.


You've all heard that chocolate is toxic for dogs, but do you know why? Its toxicity is due to a compound called theobromine which is similar to caffeine. Even small amounts of theobromine can cause agitation, tremors, convulsions, and heart problems in your pet. 

Since tree nuts are also potentially lethal for a dog, a popular holiday candy that combines the two is especially dangerous to have around your beloved pet. It might be better to save these holiday favorites for a treat while shopping rather than risk your dog having access to them.

Keeping dogs safe from holiday foods - A brown dog waiting patiently beside a dining table during the holidays.


Even a small amount of alcohol can have the same effect on your dog as a large quantity would on an over-imbibing guest. Your dog will feel sick and miserable and should receive veterinary care right away because of the possibility of ethanol toxicity. This can lead to metabolic acidosis, which can cause your beloved pet's death.

Yeasted Doughs

These holiday foods are actually toxic to your dog. Eating raw or cooked dough containing yeast can also cause ethanol toxicity (and potentially lethal metabolic acidosis) in your pet. So avoid the temptation to share a dinner roll with her. The symptoms of metabolic acidosis aren't usually noticeable until it's almost too late, so it's definitely not worth the risk! Even if she doesn't develop ethanol toxicity, dough fermenting in her gut puts her at high risk of often deadly bloat. Either way, that dough can be deadly!


Xylitol is a natural, sugar-free sweetener derived from birch tree sap or fruit and vegetable fibers. It's commonly found in sugar-free gum, mints, candies, peanut butter, and even toothpaste. It may be a boon to humans trying to lose weight. However, for dogs (and cats) it's a fast-acting and potentially lethal poison. Ingesting even a tiny amount can cause your pet to need emergency vet care. It can put your pet in serious danger of dying in as little as half an hour!

Dairy Products

Like some people, many dogs have a hard time digesting dairy products and can suffer an upset stomach, diarrhea, and vomiting after ingesting them. Make sure not to share any of your holiday foods containing dairy products with your beloved dog.


This favorite holiday spice can be toxic for dogs and is yet a third reason why your best friend should stay well away from the holiday eggnog!

Grapes and Raisins 

Even a small quantity of grapes or raisins can cause severe kidney failure in your best bud. Raisins show up in many holiday baked goods, including mince pies, cookies, and fruitcakes.


Members of the allium family (garlic, onions, leeks, shallots, and chives) all cause damage to a dog's red blood cells. Initial symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea, followed in two to four days by severe hemolytic anemia that may require a blood transfusion. It doesn't matter whether the alliums are raw or cooked. So be especially careful of salads and stuffing or gravy, which all typically contain these aromatic ingredients.

Owner giving his golden retriever a bone for Christmas.


Speaking of gravy... It's typically high in both salt and fat. Too much fat can cause dangerous pancreatitis in dogs. Avoid the temptation to let your pet lick your gravy-covered plate clean — no matter how much she begs!

Poultry or Ham Bones

Unfortunately, even the best-behaved pets find it hard to resist the irresistible smell of roasted bones and the shreds of meat clinging to them. Whether you've roasted a turkey, ham, or goose, keep the bones (or the trash can containing them) well out of your pet's reach. All of these bones splinter easily and can tear up your dog's throat or intestines when they do.

Safely Share These Holiday Foods With Your Dog

In order to safely share the holiday festivities with your best friend, why not visit the pet store or do some online shopping ahead of time? Special treats like hooves, horns, and other dog-safe goodies can make the holidays special for them without putting their health at risk.

Just be aware that some treats sold for dogs (rawhides and rib bones come to mind) are not safe for them to eat and others have unappetizing odors that dogs seem to love. Those smelly treats are probably best enjoyed well away from the dinner table!

Holiday Treats to Share With Your Dog:

  • Turkey (skinless white meat only)
  • Potatoes
  • Peas (without the butter or cream sauce, of course)
  • Carrots (halved lengthwise and cut into chunks to prevent choking)
  • Plain sweet potatoes
  • Cooked, unseasoned winter squash
  • Green beans (NOT the infamous casserole!)
  • Apples, cored and sliced
  • Pears, cored
  • Pumpkin, cooked or canned (without any sugar or spices — not pumpkin pie mix)

Golden retriever at home during the holidays.

Here's What to Do if Your Dog Eats the Wrong Thing

It's a good idea to be prepared ahead of time with the name and phone number of your own vet plus that of the nearest emergency animal hospital. Remember how quickly xylitol can kill? You don't want to waste precious time searching for a phone number!

Keep a card handy with your pet's name, breed or mix, age, weight, and any medical issues he may have. In an emergency situation involving a beloved pet, it's sometimes hard to remember these essential details and it's information that will help your vet provide appropriate treatment.

If your pet has eaten something he shouldn't have, call a vet right away. Follow whatever instructions they give you to the letter. After all, your pup's life might depend on it! They may want you to bring him in right away, so be prepared to have someone else take over your hosting duties and leave immediately.

When it comes to your beloved dog, nothing is too good for her — except for certain holiday foods. That's why we've created the best hands-free leashes on the market. We know the importance of you and your four-legged running partner maintaining a consistent training routine, especially in the face of so many calorie-laden holiday temptations!

Our love for dogs is also why our Dog Blog is full of helpful and informative articles like this one. If you'd like to learn more, send us a woof!

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