Thanksgiving Foods Your Dog Can and Can’t Eat

Which Foods Are Dangerous for Dogs?

By Ginger Vaughan
October 30, 2020
Dog Eating Bread

Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate and spend time with friends and family. For many people, this also includes the family dog, but what traditional holiday foods are safe for Fido to snack on and which are a big no-no? Here are pooch-approved foods—what you can (and can’t) feed dogs from the family feast.

(Got cats? Find out which Thanksgiving foods are safe for cats—and which aren’t!)

Foods That Dogs Can Eat

What morsels can you slip your pup as a treat to celebrate the season? Dog-friendly human foods include: 

  • Bread: Plain baked bread—that is, without any nuts, raisins, or spices—is fine as an occasional snack in small amounts, but don’t overdo it. Dogs don’t derive any nutritional benefit from bread and, like in humans, too much can pack on the pounds. Avoid bread with artificial sweeteners or lots of salt, and never feed your dog raw (unbaked) bread dough. (See “raw yeast dough” under “Foods That Dogs Can’t Eat” below).
  • Carrots and celery: While you’re preparing the stuffing, slip your furry friend some spare carrots and celery, which are low in calories and full of nutrients and vitamins. Cut into bite-size pieces to make them easier to digest. 
  • Cheese: Unless your pooch is lactose-intolerant (which is very rare), cheese is good choice for an occasional treat, but avoid high- or full-fat varieties. Low- or non-fat cottage cheese is a great option. 
  • Corn: A common ingredient in many dog foods, corn is perfectly healthy for your dog, but don’t ever give them the cob, which can cause choking or intestinal blockages if swallowed. 
  • Ham: While there’s no harm in giving your dog a few cubes, a little goes a long way. The high fat and salt content means ham should be a rare treat rather than a regular meal. 
  • Rice: As long as your dog isn’t allergic, feel free to feed rice and other grains—like quinoa—to your dog.
  • Sweet potatoes: Rich in vitamin A—which promotes healthy skin, coat, nerves, and muscles—sweet potatoes are healthy for dogs. Serve them plain. 
  • Turkey: Good news! The star of most Thanksgiving dinners is perfectly safe for dogs, in general—if it is plain, unseasoned, properly cooked, and given in a small amount. White meat is best, as it contains less fat and calories and more protein. Before preparing your pooch a plate, be sure to remove any fat or skin and never, ever give them the bones, which can splinter and cause tears or blockages in the digestive tract. Avoid giving your dog any seasoned or processed turkey, which may contain harmful ingredients.

Note: For those dogs with food allergies or other health conditions, please check with your vet first. Remember: Any new food might potentially cause digestive issues—introduce it to your dog in small amounts.


Foods That Dogs Can’t Eat

It’s natural to want to share with our furry friends, but there are a lot of holiday drinks, dishes, and desserts that are definitely not dog-friendly. Stay away from: 

  • Alcohol: Alcohol and animals don’t mix. Even small amounts of booze can result in ethanol poisoning with symptoms that can include lethargy, seizures, heart attack, lung failure, and death. 
  • Apple Pie: While plain, uncooked, cored and seeded apples are fantastic treats for dogs, slicing your beloved pup a piece of apple pie is a terrible idea. High-fat crust combined with common apple pie spices like cinnamon and nutmeg can result in a number of issues including stomach upset/pain, liver disease, high blood pressure, and seizures. 
  • Chocolate: You’ve probably heard this before, but it bears repeating: Do not feed your dog chocolate. It’s highly toxic (especially the darker varieties) and can stop a pooch’s metabolic process resulting in diarrhea, vomiting, seizures, and death. 
  • Coffee, tea, or any caffeinated drink: You might live for your morning caffeine boost, but, in dogs, it overstimulates the nervous system causing elevated heart rate, vomiting, and seizures. 
  • Garlic, leeks, or onions: These members of the Allium family are highly toxic to dogs and can cause elevated heart rate, anemia, and general weakness. Watch any dog that might have eaten a stray piece of garlic or onion closely as symptoms may not appear until a few days after ingestion. 
  • Grapes and raisins: Grapes and their dehydrated cousins are highly toxic to dogs. Even small amounts can make a dog desperately ill leading to rapid kidney failure and death. 
  • Ice cream: As a general rule, dogs do not tolerate high- or full-fat dairy products well. To avoid the gastrointestinal distress, but still reward with a cold treat, skip the ice cream (or frozen yogurt) and feed them frozen fruits like blueberries, strawberries, and bananas. 
  • Raw potatoes: While many packaged dog foods contain potatoes, uncooked potatoes contain solanine, which is toxic to dogs. 
  • Raw yeast dough: The raw yeast in uncooked dough can ferment producing alcohol and possible ethanol poisoning. 


Like with humans, balancing a dog’s diet can be a tricky thing. Unless under the advice and supervision of a veterinarian, traditional human foods should be kept to a minimum, but every doggy loves the occasional treat!

Got a kitty? See which foods are safe (and not safe) for cats.

Reader Comments

Leave a Comment

Dogs and Garlic

The idea that dogs should not eat garlic is relatively recent and, in my fairly extensive experience, quite false. Garlic is a common ingredient in show ring "bait," and, believe me, if breeders had any indication that it was harmful, they would avoid it like the plague. It may be that ingesting extremely high levels of garlic is harmful to dogs, but that would hold true for almost anything.

these are incorrect. you are going to kill someone's pet

You can not feed a dog bread. Anything with yeast can not be fed to a dog. Apple pie on the other hand (provided there is no fake sugars xyztol or other aspartame etc)

You are giving out incorrect information that could end someone in a serious debt in vet bills and possibly even death. Please update this with the guide of a veterinarian.

dogs and bread

The Editors's picture

Thank you for your concern for the animals. We indeed want to keep them safe! According to dog experts, certain plain, low-salt baked breads that do not have artificial sweeteners can be eaten as an occasional treat in small amounts (or given to help administer a pill) to those dogs without allergies or certain other medical conditions. It is not recommended as a regular treat, however, as it can cause weight gain over the long term. You are correct, though, that one absolutely should not feed dogs raw bread dough with yeast, or even partially cooked bread dough, because of the yeast expansion and fermentation that can take place in the stomach. That’s why we have an entry about that under “Foods That Dogs Can’t Eat.” When bread is baked at temperatures over 140F, however, the high heat kills the yeast. So, in completely baked bread, we don’t have to worry about the potentially dangerous effects of our pets (or us) ingesting active yeast. We’ve expanded the text a bit to make things clearer. Thank you for your feedback!

Dogs and Turkey

In my experience (40+ yrs of dog ownership), giving a dog cooked turkey generally is a really, really, bad idea. Particularly in larger dogs, it can cause very bad cases of gas ... trust me, you do NOT want to be in the same county! As with humans, the amount of skin and fats that dogs consume should be limited. A little bit, fine. Just bear in mind that dogs are carnivores, and while many of them will also eats fruits and vegetables, historically dairy and fats have not been part of their diet. Hence the issue with pancreatitis - which also happens in humans.
Raw turkey necks, raw bones with some meat, are all safe for dogs, and frequently form part of a dog's raw food diet. Spoil your pup, yes indeed. Just do it safely, understanding how our food can adversely affect our pets.

Thanksgiving food for dogs and cats

I was just reading Thanksgiving foods for dogs and cats. While I noticed bananas on the cat list it was not on the dog list. My dog loved bananas and would jump around every time I started peeling one, so I would give her a few small bites. She passed away at over 16 so I don't think it was from the bananas. Are they bad for dogs???


bananas and dogs

The Editors's picture

As you have found, most dogs can handle bananas when given in small doses, and the fruit offers some nutritional benefits such as potassium and fiber. Bananas are high in sugar, however, so it is not recommended that they are given to dogs in large amounts. Never let dogs eat the peel: Although not toxic, it is hard to digest and can cause blockages.

Dog can eat

Dogs absolutely need the skin and fat off the turkey. It is very good for them. Matter of fact, it's even healthy for you and I to eat. I make my own dog food, and I never add corn to his food. They cannot digest it any more than you or I can. They can eat veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, green beans, peas, pumpkin (puree only or whole roasted), I do give my dog sweet potatoes that I have par boiled before putting into his food, but I seldom give him white potatoes. I do agree, never ever give them bones from turkeys or chickens, however, it is perfectly ok to give them raw chicken thighs with the bone in. But, never give them thigh bones that have been cooked.

Thanksgiving food that’s safe for dogs

Please correct the sentence in “Ham” that states “ a lot goes a long way”. I’m sure it should say “a little goes a long way”. Thanks for correcting and helping to keep our best friends safe.