thanksgiving foods that could kill your dog

The smell of Thanksgiving dinner around 11 AM on Thanksgiving day is unbelievably tempting. With a sense of smell 1,000 – 10,000 times greater than ours, imagine how the smell of Thanksgiving foods must tempt our dogs. This leaves many wondering, is it safe to feed our dogs Thanksgiving food? If your dog begs for table scraps, be very cautious before indulging his or her desires. Some common foods found around the Thanksgiving table could kill your dog. Here are a few of the key culprits all dog owners should be aware of.

We understand every dog can tolerate different amounts of any particular food. Some dogs may have absolutely no issue eating some foods on the list. A variety of factors like breed and size can influence this. Use caution if you consider feeding your dog any human food. Designated dog food is always safest.

1. Turkey Skin

Turkey skin bad for dogs

For those who avoid eating the turkey skin at Thanksgiving, it may be tempting to throw some to your dog. Turkey skin itself isn’t toxic to dogs, however it can have adverse effects. The high fat content of the skin can be hard on a dog’s stomach, leading to stomach pain and possible pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas, giving your dog severe abdominal pain and vomiting. If you really want to give your dog a turkey treat, skinless, boneless meat is a better option.

2. Onions and Garlic

If a dog ingests more than 0.5% of its body weight in garlic and/or onions, it could be fatal. The culprit in these foods is called N-propyl disulfide. Without getting too nerdy, it causes a dog’s red blood cells to rupture and be cleared from the system faster than normal. This leads to anemia, which in severe cases can lead to organ damage and even organ failure. It doesn’t matter if it’s cooked, powder, or raw, virtually all forms of onions and garlic are harmful.

3. Nuts

Nuts hurt dogs

The majority of nuts are NOT safe for dogs. Here are a few of the nuts dogs can eat, and more importantly, a few of the nuts your dog should never eat.

Dangerous Nuts for Dogs

  • Walnuts can contain a toxin called tremorgenic mycotoxin, which can cause seizures and neurological issues in dogs. At best, they’ll give your dog a stomach ache and potentially cause an intestinal blockage.
  • Almonds are a nut that most dogs love to eat, but they are difficult for a dog to digest, leading to upset stomachs.
  • Pecans contain a toxin called juglone. It can cause stomach aches in dogs, or even an intestinal obstruction.
  • Pistachios are very fatty and difficult for dogs to digest, leading to an upset stomach. If your dog eats too many pistachios over a period of time, he or she could develop pancreatitis.
  • Macadamia Nuts are also very rich in fat, causing upset stomachs in dogs. The exact cause is unknown, but vets believe there is some sort of property in macadamia nuts that is toxic to dogs.

Nuts Most Dogs Can Handle

  • Peanut allergies are rare in dogs. The best peanuts for dogs are unsalted with shells removed.
  • Cashews are okay in moderation. Their high fat content will cause your dog pain if he or she eats too many.
  • Hazelnuts are okay for most dogs, but they may pose a choking risk to smaller dogs.

4. Chocolate

chocolate can kill dogs

No surprise here. Chocolate is a food that can kill your dog. Theobromine is a property in chocolate that humans have no issue digesting. Dogs, however, cannot digest theobromine well. In less severe cases, a dog will experience an upset stomach, diarrhea, and vomiting. In large amounts, a dog may experience seizures, irregular heartbeat, muscle tremors, internal bleeding, or even a heart attack.

Larger dogs can typically handle more chocolate consumption than smaller dogs. Different types of chocolate have different levels of theobromine. Cocoa, dark chocolate, and cooking chocolate have the highest levels, and are the most dangerous for dogs.

Case in point, NEVER feed your dog chocolate.

5. Unbaked Dough

Most households will do at least some baking this Thanksgiving. Unbaked dough can be very harmful, or even fatal to dogs. As it expands in the warm, moist stomach of a dog, it causes bloating.

Not only that, but if unbaked dough ferments, it produces alcohol and carbon dioxide. The alcohol can be quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, leading to alcohol poisoning.

6. Batter

The baking soda or baking powder found in baking batters can be deadly for your four-legged friend. Both these products are leavening agents, meaning they produce a gas that causes the batter to rise. If a dog ingests large amounts of these, it can lead to muscle spasms, or even congestive heart failure.

7. Nutmeg

Slightly less well-known, nutmeg can wreak havoc on your dog’s body. Unfortunately, dogs are often attracted to the scent of this spice. Nutmeg contains a toxin called myristicin, which adversely affects a dog’s health. Tremors, convulsions, seizures, and even death can result if a dog ingests nutmeg. Less serious side effects include dehydration, body pain, and nausea.

8. Alcohol

dog alcohol poisoning

We mentioned alcohol poisoning when discussing unbaked dough, but here’s an in-depth look at why dogs should never be offered alcohol (even if they’re of age).

A dog’s size plays into the equation. It takes far less alcohol to affect a 30 pound dog than it does a 180 pound human. On top of the fact that dogs are typically smaller than humans, their livers are simply not as effective at filtering alcohol. Also, when dog’s consume alcohol, it puts them at risk for ethanol poisoning.

9. Turkey Bones

After the bird is carved, don’t toss the bones to your dog. Unlike a large bone that a dog would chew on, these small bones can lead to severe indigestion, vomiting, or even bowel obstruction. These bones can also splinter, potentially damaging the stomach or intestines.

10. Grapes and Raisins

Around Thanksgiving, grapes and raisins are often thrown into a variety of salads and desserts. Make sure to scoot these dishes closer to the center of the table. Grapes and raisins are toxic to your dog. Grape ingestion in dogs can lead to irreversible kidney damage or even fatal kidney failure.


Who knew your kitchen could be such a minefield for your dog? Be sure that you and your family knows these Thanksgiving foods that could kill your dog. We want you and your family (furry friends included) to have a blessed, happy Thanksgiving.

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