It’s no secret that Thanksgiving is the holiday of overindulging in delicious foods but it’s not just humans that overeat on the holiday. If you’re hosting the Thanksgiving festivities this year, it can be all too tempting to treat your pet to some bites of food, while they linger around the kitchen to the sweet smell of turkey all day long.

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While the puppy-dog-eyes may have swayed you to treat your pet to some Thanksgiving foods, many holiday foods are actually toxic to your pets and can cause serious health problems.

Apart from the harm of toxic foods, dietary indiscretion can also result in underlying health issues. It is important to note that a great deal of holiday foods are very rich and high in fat content, which can cause your pets gastrointestinal upset. This can be presented in the form of gastroenteritis or pancreatitis and can be serious among many cats and dogs. Before the holiday, be aware of the list of foods you should be keeping your pets away from, and make sure guests are aware that they should not be feeding your dog these items.

Unsafe & Unhealthy Foods to Avoid

  1. Cooked Bones. Cooked bones can be the most tempting to share with your pet at the end of the meal due to the common misconception that all bones are okay to give to your dogs. However, the American Veterinary Medical Association recommends keeping them away from your pet due to the harm it could cause to their digestive tract. Cooked bones are hollow, meaning they easily splinter as your dog chews them. This causes sharp points on the bone that could result in life-threatening internal punctures of the dog’s throat, stomach, or intestines. Cooked bones can also be a choking hazard to your pet, as small pieces of the bone can easily get lodged into your dog’s throat.
  2. Alliums like Onions, Garlic, Shallots, Leeks & Scallions. This is an important pet
    danger to note as many Thanksgiving foods like stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy often contain alliums for taste. Large quantities of alliums can cause toxic anemia among dogs. The ASPCA warns against the dangers of alliums as they could lead to red blood cell damage. Red blood cells are a vital part of carrying oxygen throughout the body, meaning when they are destroyed the important organs cannot get enough oxygen. Some signs of anemia in pets include; increased heart rate, elevated respiratory rate, weakness, and discolored urine.
  3. Xylitol. Xylitol is a sugar substitute that is often used in products that claim to be sugar-free, most commonly present in sugar-free baking mixes. Although many people do not often bake with a sugar substitute, it has become more common with the recent popularity of the keto diet. It is important to avoid cooking or baking with xylitol as it is very toxic and even deadly to dogs. The FDA warns against feeding xylitol to your pets through outlining that it is quickly absorbed into your pet’s bloodstream, causing an overwhelming release of insulin from the pancreas. This may result in a drastic decrease in your pet’s blood sugar levels, causing life-threatening hypoglycemia within minutes. Xylitol can also cause irreparable liver damage. Some symptoms to look out for when it comes to xylitol poisoning include vomiting, decreased activity & weakness, staggering, and even seizures.
  4. Raisins or Grapes. Raisins are often a common ingredient incorporated in Thanksgiving dinner through stuffing, so it is very important to be aware of their dangers when it comes to your pet. While many foods that are dangerous to your pet have to be ingested in large amounts, that is not the case with raisins or grapes. Even in small amounts, raisins and grapes can cause decreased blood flow to the kidneys. This often results in kidney failure among pets, which can be life-threatening. Signs that your pet has ingested raisins or grapes often occur around 24 hours later and include lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea.
  5. Chocolate. If you’re making a chocolate dessert this Thanksgiving, be sure to keep it away from your pets as it is the most common toxic food for them. Chocolate is toxic to dogs because it contains substances known as methylxanthines. These are often known as caffeine or theobromine. Dogs ingest theobromine at a very slow rate, allowing the toxic chemicals to build up in their system with life-threatening results. However, it is important to note that the darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is to your pet. This means dark or semi-sweet chocolate may pose more of a threat than milk or white chocolate. Some signs that your pet has ingested chocolate include upset stomach,
    vomiting, or diarrhea. At a more severe rate, signs of chocolate toxicity include seizures, tremors, and an irregular heart rate.
  6. Foods with a High Fat Content. As mentioned above, toxic foods are not the only things you should be keeping away from your pets. You should also avoid feeding your pets anything out of the ordinary, especially any foods that are very rich and high in fat content. Some examples of rich, high-fat content foods can be anything with excessive seasoning and high sodium content, fatty meats, sugar, or butter. Because your pet is not used to digesting these types of foods, they can experience intense gastrointestinal upset, often associated with symptoms of diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Excessively rich and fatty foods can also trigger pancreatitis or gastroenteritis, inflammatory diseases of the pancreas, and gastrointestinal tract. Common signs of pancreatitis and gastroenteritis include vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.

What To Do If Your Pet Has Ingested Any Of These Toxic Foods

If you suspect your pet has eaten something they shouldn’t have, then seek please help immediately. In an emergency case of poisoning or toxicity, urgency is vital. You can always contact the team at West Delray Veterinary at 561-777-7173 and let them know what is going on with your pet. If your emergency occurs outside of our hours of operation, seeking out local emergency veterinary practice would be best.

If you suspect your pet has ingested a poisonous substance, contact the ASPCA Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435, for further guidance.

If you have any questions about keeping your pets safe for the holiday season, please feel free to contact the team at West Delray Veterinary at 561-777-7173 or visit our website at

Thank you and have a very Happy Thanksgiving and Holiday Season!!

-The Team at West Delray Veterinary


Kearl, M. (2021, November 2). Safe thanksgiving foods to share with your dog or avoid. American Kennel Club. Retrieved November 8, 2021, from

Commissioner, O. of the. (n.d.). Paws of xylitol; it’s dangerous for dogs. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved November 8, 2021, from

Schenker Michelle Schenker | Reviewed By: Dr. JoAnna Pendergrass, M. (2021, October 18). What can dogs not eat? lists of safe & toxic foods for your dog: Fruits, vegetables, nuts, human food, fish, meat, bones, Retrieved November 8, 2021, from