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10 Thanksgiving Foods Dangerous for Your Dog

dog eating thanksgiving turkeyThanksgiving is a time for families to get together, give thanks, eat wonderful food and then pass out in front of the TV watching football. It’s also a great time for clever dogs to sneak off with the trimmings.

While tossing your dog a carrot or two, or even a piece of cooked turkey here and there, won’t be too harmful (here’s a list of more safe foods), some other Thanksgiving goodies are bad for him.

You should not give your dog the following 10 foods on Thanksgiving – or any other day, for that matter.

1. Bones

It seems counterintuitive, but bones are bad for dogs. Carmela Stamper, DVM, a veterinarian in the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, said, “Bones are unsafe, no matter what their size. Giving your dog a bone may make your pet a candidate for a trip to your veterinarian’s office later, possible emergency surgery or even death. Make sure you throw out bones from your own meals in a way that your dog can’t get to them.”

2. Raw or undercooked turkey

Turkey Day’s main dish is dangerous for one reason: salmonella bacteria. Even though you may believe your dog’s stomach is iron-clad, it’s not.

3. Turkey skin

Seems harmless enough, right? It’s just the skin. But fatty foods like turkey skin and gravy are difficult for dogs to digest. Your dog’s pancreas can even become inflamed, resulting in pancreatitis, a very serious disease. Turkey skin isn’t good for you, either, so it’s best to throw it away and make more room for the mashed potatoes and gravy.

4. Dough and cake batter

It may sound like an urban legend, but the combination of raw dough and your dog’s body heat can actually cause the dough to rise inside his stomach. This will make your dog vomit while suffering severe abdominal pain and bloating. Not to mention that the batter used in cakes and pies has raw eggs, which could contain salmonella bacteria. If you’re making a cake or pie, make sure your dog is not in the kitchen, and clean up any scraps or droppings that hit the floor right away.

5. Beer

Some dogs love beer, but this doesn’t mean you should share a cold one with your dog. It can really do a number on your dog’s stomach. Depending on how much he consumes, the hops can cause your dog to have a fever, rapid heartbeat, seizures and liver damage. It can even be lethal.

6. Macadamia nuts

These nuts in particular are very bad for your dog. In fact, they could cause a reaction called macadamia nut toxicosis. The symptoms range from lethargy and vomiting to your dog being unable to stand up.

7. Mushrooms

Fungi are good for you, but bad for your dog. Should your dog ingest mushrooms, you can expect a slew of unwelcome symptoms that could become quite severe, including vomiting, seizures, coma and possibly death.

8. Onions and garlic

These two culprits are always on the list of foods your dog should not eat, and for very good reason: they can make your dog very sick. Both onions and garlic contain sulfides, which are toxic to dogs and can cause the destruction of red blood cells, leading to anemia.

9. Sage

This multi-purpose herb is used in countless recipes and for cleansing a new home, but for dogs, sage is bad. It contains essential oils and resins that can upset a dog’s stomach and do a number on his central nervous system.

10. Nutmeg

Nutmeg is a sneaky spice. Found in sweet potatoes, yams, pumpkin pie and most desserts, nutmeg has mild hallucinogenic properties that, when ingested by your dog, can cause seizures, tremors and central nervous system problems. Note that both pumpkin and sweet potatoes are good for your dog; just make sure no nutmeg is on them before you share them.

Chocolate is also very, very bad for dogs. It’s not on the list because it should be a given for every pet parent: Never feed your dog chocolate.

The best way to keep your dog safe is to have plenty of his food on hand, as well as treats. Ask your guests not to feed your dog human food. Also make sure your dog gets lots of exercise. A tired dog is a good dog.

PHOTO: JodiJacobson

Sonya Simpkins

Sonya Simpkins is a contributing writer for i Love Dogs, Inc. In her spare time, she loves to take her dogs for long hikes and treks to the beach, out to eat and on long road trips across the county. She then turns those adventures into useful advice for other dog parents who also love to take their dogs with them wherever they go.

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October 26, 2011 By : Category : DOG NEWS Nutrition and Exercise Tags:
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27 Comments Print

The Dog Park   


Pretty dopey article. Dogs can't digest fats? So wolves just throw away the skin and fat when they eat a sheep?

Oh, and the toxic levels for chocolate is like 1lb per 20lbs of dog. So my 80lbs pitbull would be fine with a little piece (not that I give it to her, but enough of this urban legend). The danger is supposedly that dogs like it so much, they won't stop eating it. But who had 4lbs of pure chocolate lying around for a dog to devour anyway?

I have a friend who did have to take her dog to the vet for giving it a grape or two, so never do that one.

BTW, most dogs are lactose intolerant, so milk and cheese way worse than fats.


This article is very ignorant.


I agree with the raw feeders. Raw turkey is fine for dogs, just try to get the kind that isn't sodium enhanced and remove the excess blobs of fat. Some of you are really dumb though, feeding your dogs onions, KFC, cooked bones and chocolate.


Everyone says do not feed your dog chocolate but I had a Chihuahua that ate an entire chocolate bar that was left on a table and she never got sick, got diarrhea, or a tummy ache. Also I feed my dogs chicken skin and bones. They haven't had a problem with them in 8 years. They also eat onions and do not get sick. I believe it takes a lot of common sense what to feed and what not to feed them. Dogs are funny in that they know what is bad for them and generally will not eat it, at least mine won't.


Well I guess someone should turn me in for animal cruelty. I feed my dog chicken and turkey skin often : turkey skin only on turkey holidays, chicken skin whenever we get KFC. I also feed her bones : the large ham bones and large knuckle bones from hip joints and occasionally large rib bones. oh...and let's not forget the chocolate, usually M&M candies or a bite or two from a candy bar. oh...wait... my vet said she can have 1 oz of chocolate per pound of dog occasionally... she might get one or two ounces of chocolate once or twice a week, if that often. I have a very healthy dog, a little overweight from the table scraps, but full of energy and no health problems. Just like children, each dog is different. Talk to your pediatrician, I mean Vet before listening to any advice from a columnist.


Raw turkey meat, bone and fat are not a problem for dogs and salmonella is a non issue for dogs.  My dogs have been raw fed for many years and my mentors have been raw feeding for decades.  Some of the other items you mentioned are not good for dogs and fat should not be fed alone to a kibble fed dog but stating that raw meat, bone and organ is bad for dogs is irresponsible and misleading.  Thousand of dogs are raw fed and excellent examples of the health and vitality that comes only from species appropriate feeding.  


Funny. I feed a prey model raw diet and have been doing so for many years. My vet will vouch for all of my dogs health. I feed turkey on a once a week basic.


@ReneeDailyHillthe concern is that chocolate has a stimulant in it (Theobromine) that can give dogs arrhythmia or even cardiac arrest. Cardiologists even tell elderly heart patients to avoid it. So you probably wouldn't notice until she was paws up from an MI. But the toxic dose is supposedly 1lb of chocolate per 20lbs of dog.


@ReneeDailyHill I love my dogs way too much to risk giving them something that veterinarians say DO NOT FEED...this, to me, is common sense.  Your dogs haven't gotten sick YET, but if they do you will regret it, especially if you have a large vet bill to pay for that could have been avoided. 


@liztilt  An article I just read on about.com...veterinary medicine, written by a veterinarian states that dogs can get salmonella. It is an interesting article with lots of info on salmonella in dogs, cats, people, etc.


@LisaMiller3 @ReneeDailyHill  I love my dogs just as much as you love yours and I didn't feed my chihuahua the chocolate, she got it off the table while we were gone. The bones I feed my dogs are the leg bones and thigh bones. They don't get them too often but I do feed them to them because they beg for some every time I bake chicken. It's common sense to me to follow most vet's advice but you know they call it a "practice" for a reason; they are practicing on your pets just the same as the doctors "practice" on you with your own health!


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