Healthy or Hurtful? Holiday Foods Fido's Edition

Healthy or Hurtful? Holiday Foods Fido's Edition

Will you hurt me?

Are you toxic or are you beneficial?

The ultimate guide to feeding your fur baby traditional Thanksgiving food.


Is your dog your sidekick, your ultimate ride or die, the one thing you love unconditionally? Keeping my dogs safe is my #1 priority. I will do anything for them. When I look into those eyes staring back at me, you know the ones I am talking about, the instant guilt look, it makes me turn to mush; this is when all rules go out the window. I know you were expecting to read what those rules are but let's get real, my dogs have none. I allow both of them to be on the furniture, sleep in my bed, and beg from the table, sometimes even jumping halfway into my lap. My two Chihuahua mixes and are very spoiled who get fed the treats all day. Whether it be the food off my plate or dog treats, this is the way I get them to do anything. There is a lot of personality in my house. 

They know to stand beneath me as I cook because items fall from the counter left and right. The food they do eat from the mess that is my cooking style is all safe and healthy. I bet you are wondering at this point, what is your strategy if you accidentally drop toxic food?  First, the 5-second rule does not apply in my house because I have 3-second dogs. The strategy is to have 2-second extremities. It is really scientific over here in my messy cooking style zero rules of a house.

With the holidays just around the corner, and we prepare to cook that special meal we have been waiting all year for, we have to be mindful of what we can and cannot share with the four-legged members of our family. Starting around this time of the year, I hear the word dressing and instantly smell that heavenly smell. In my opinion, dressing is the most satisfying part of the meal and definitely makes for the best leftovers. 

I could talk about dressing for hours on end but that is not what this is about, this topic is for another day. Back to the regularly scheduled program. Without further ado, here are the foods that are toxic to your fur babies: 



Garlic: This spice contains the compound organosulfur. This impacts your dog’s red blood cells by overwhelming the antioxidant properties. It changes the shape of their blood cells leading to potential rupture. If these cells break, less oxygen is transported to your pet’s tissues, organs, and muscles. This leads to decreased energy, anemia, organ failure, and in some cases death. The symptoms of ingestion are lethargy, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, weakness, abdominal pain, pale gums, and red urine. 

Nutmeg: This spice has a particle in it called myrisficinstonic. Consumption of this specific enzyme causes vomiting, nervous system damage, seizures, upset stomach, and in some cases death. 

Cocoa Powder/ Chocolate: This spice contains the compound theobromine, which speeds up your dog's heart rate and impacts the nervous system. Even consuming a small amount of this spice can lead to heart problems like a heart attack. Symptoms of ingestion are hyperactivity, fast heart rate, diarrhea, seizures, tremors, and increased urination. 

Chives: This spice contains n-propyl disulfide known to cause the rupture of red blood cells. This can lead to anemia, organ failure, and possible death. The symptoms of ingestion are diarrhea, vomiting, pale gums, abdominal pain, and weakness. 

Salt: Too much salt in your dog’s diet can lead to sodium ion poisoning. The symptoms of ingestion are excessive thirst, frequent urination, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, fevers, and seizures. 

Paprika: Although not toxic this is made with capsaicin, which leads to many gastrointestinal problems. The symptoms of ingestion are upset stomach, diarrhea, skin and eye irritation, nasal irritation, and upset stomach.

Pepper: Just like paprika pepper is not toxic itself. This spice affects the way medication is absorbed which may lead to overdose. Too much can create stomach problems and irritations. The symptoms of ingestion are gastrointestinal issues, skin and eye irritation, and diarrhea. 

Mace: In large amounts, this spice can create serious central nervous and gastrointestinal problems. The symptoms of ingestion are abdominal pain, vomiting, central nervous system issues, and drowsiness. 



Food and Beverage 

Caffeine: This can cause poisoning within 30 minutes. It raises blood pressure and causes cardiac arrhythmias. Caffeine can also lead to loss of muscle control, tremors, and seizures. Symptoms of ingestion are gastrointestinal problems, vomiting, and diarrhea. 

Dairy: This can cause diarrhea and other digestive issues. It can also trigger food allergies, which causes them to itch. Dairy may cause dogs to develop pancreatitis as well. 

Onions: This food contains a compound called thiosulphate, which can cause anemia. 

Grapes/Raisins/Currants: Even small amounts can result in kidney failure, digestion issues, and sudden renal failure. These can occur within 24 hours. Symptoms of ingestion are vomiting, diarrhea, low energy, loss of appetite, weakness, signs of abdominal pain, excessive thirst, lack of urine production, and tremors. 

Avocado: The leaves, fruit, seeds, and bark of this food contain persin. This can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and myocardial damage. The high-fat content can lead to gastrointestinal upset and pancreatitis. 

Xylitol: This is an artificial sweetener that when absorbed into the bloodstream causes hypoglycemia. This is life threatening and it also can cause liver failure. 


Macadamia Nuts: This nut is highly toxic. Even in small quantities, these cause neurological damage. Symptoms of ingestion are vomiting, weakness, back legs collapsing, inability to walk, lethargy, fever, tremors, ataxia, hyperthermia, and depression.

Yeast: This can activate in your dog’s stomach causing a distended stomach that can escalate very quickly to an often-fatal condition called GDV bloat. 

Ham: This type of cut of pork and other pork products can cause pancreatitis, upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Now that you have made it through this list of spices, foods, and beverages I bet you are wondering well what do I do with this information, I don’t just have a big bowl of onions or garlic or grapes on my table. Not to fret, I got you. 

The following dishes will most likely have all or some of these ingredients. 

Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, Sweets, Marshmallows, Turkey Skin, Turkey bones, Seasoned turkey, casseroles, and yeast dough. 

If your dog ingests any of the food, spices, or beverages listed above it is always better to air on the side of caution. Contact your local vet or after-care hours immediately. Nobody knows your baby's normal behaviors as you do. If you sense something is off, go with your gut. A $500 vet bill is definitely better than the alternative. 

Now onto the good news. 

If you are anything like me the one for you one for me feeding type is a favorite. This list will fit your fancy and your dog will be getting amazing nutritional benefits from the following list. All of the following need to be unseasoned and plain. 



Carrots: These are high in fiber and vitamin A. Vitamin a is beneficial for the maintenance of the immune system and for good vision.

Green Beans: This vegetable is a great low-calorie snack for your baby. They are packed full of essential vitamins and nutrients. These are protein, iron, calcium, and vitamins B6, A, C, and K. Like carrots they are great for the immune system and the eyes. Vitamin C is needed to form cartilage, muscle, and collagen in bones. Vitamin K is needed for blood clotting and bone metabolism. Lastly, vitamin B6 is important for normal brain development keeping the nervous system and immune system healthy. These are a powerhouse of a snack. 

 Sweet Potatoes: Never feed your dog raw sweet potatoes.  It is best to feed your dog sans skin, as this is hard for them to digest. This root vegetable aids in digestion due to its high fiber content. The antioxidants support a healthy gut. Beta-carotene has been shown to support eye health. The high antioxidants help defend their body’s against free radicals. Free radicals increase the risk of chronic diseases. The high potassium content helps regulate their body’s fluid balance and blood pressure. 

Pumpkin: Never feed your dog raw pumpkin or canned pumpkin pie filling. Pumpkins are high in fiber and water content, which aids in digestion. Pumpkins are a nutrient powerhouse. It has a high concentration of Vitamin a (beta-carotene), which is great for eye health.  It is also loaded with potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure, improves muscle health, and assists in metabolism. They also contain smaller amounts of healthy nutrients including Vitamin C, Iron, Phosphorus, Magnesium, and Folate. Vitamin C boosts the immune system. It moisturizes skin and coats.  


Peas: They are high in vitamins A, K, and a variety of B vitamins. They are a good source of fiber, iron, zinc, potassium, and magnesium. These are beneficial for vision, skin, digestion, immune system, nerves, and heart. 

Raw Apples: If your dog will eat them they are great. I have one dog, her nickname is food monster, and she will eat anything. My other dog is the pickiest dog I have ever encountered. Make sure you cut out the seeds and thoroughly wash them because of all the pesticides on apples. They are an excellent source of vitamins A, C as well as fiber, and antioxidants. . They are low in fat, which makes them a great snack. An entire apple has about 19 grams of sugar therefore a little goes a long way. 




Cinnamon: Only feed small amounts, 1 tsp is the max you can give a large dog.  Feed your dog accordingly. In small amounts this spice fights against heart disease, it’s anti-inflammatory, regulates blood sugar, and has anti-cancer properties.  


Turmeric: This spice relieves arthritis, has anti-inflammatory properties, improves gut health, and boosts brain function. 

Peppermint: Soothes a dog’s upset stomach, relieves intestinal gas, treats diarrhea, alleviates gastrointestinal problems. 


Thyme: Creates a healthier digestive tract.


Basil: Contains antioxidants, has anti-inflammatory properties and helps alleviate arthritis. Only feed in small amounts, 2-3 leaves is a safe amount for large dogs. 

Rosemary: It is high in iron and calcium and also has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. Only feed in small amounts, large amounts over 5 grams can cause an upset stomach.

Ginger: Contains anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It also can provide a boost to the digestive system and ease nausea. Remember fresh ginger is quite strong, so better options might be dried or ground. 


Now that you know beneficial foods for your fur babies you are thinking what do I do with this list? Putting unseasoned and bland food on my table is almost not worth putting your stretchy pants on for. Now taking these beneficial ingredients and turning them into a holiday treat for the four-legged family members is quick and easy.


Click on the links below for recipes so easy you can make right along with the rest of the meal. 

Turkey Meatballs

Sweet Potato Muffins

Pup-kin Pie

Remember to always check with your veterinarian before introducing new foods to your four-legged family member. A good rule of thumb is low and slow. That means small quantities over a long period of time. 

Happy Feasting for Fido.

Woof Tails    

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