5 Holiday Foods You Can Share With Your Dog (And 5 You Really Shouldn't)

It's not a family meal without the pup, right?

beethoven eating turkey

Universal Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Sharing is caring in the South during the holidays, when bags, boxes, and casseroles loaded with delicious foods fill fridges, counters, and tables. But if you’re looking forward to sharing the season’s bounty with your dog, you might want to think twice.

"The day after Thanksgiving is a busy day for us," says Elizabeth Pirkle Rasor, a senior veterinarian with Shandon-Wood Animal Hospital in Columbia, South Carolina. "Our dogs are family, so it’s easy to forget that foods we love can be life threatening for them."

Not sure what treats are OK? Read on for holiday favorites that, given in small quantities, will help make your dog’s holiday just a little brighter. And, just to be safe, get to know the list of unsafe treats as well. It might surprise you.

Five Foods You Can Share With Your Dog


Set amid all those glorious holiday sides, plain turkey might seem a little boring. To your dog, though, it’s anything but. "Just be sure there’s no skin and it’s not floating in gravy," says Dr. Rasor. "Those fatty additions can be tough for a dog to digest and might even lead to pancreatitis."


Even picky eaters seem to love salad, which adds filling fiber and a dose of vitamins. Just be sure it’s free of grapes and raisins which are toxic to dogs.

"We’re not sure why, but grapes and raisins cause kidney failure in dogs," says Dr. Rasor. "Don’t risk it—for some dogs, even two or three can be a problem."

Scraps from the veggie tray are another healthy option, as long as you steer clear of the onion dip. 

Whipped cream

Want to share a sweet treat with Fluffy? "A marshmallow or a bit of whipped cream won’t cause problems with most dogs," says Dr. Joseph Bartges, a professor of internal medicine, interventional radiology, and nutrition at The University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, and a board-certified veterinary internist and nutritionist.

Pumpkin pie

Pumpkin is great for dogs, so a smidge—and we mean a smidge—of pumpkin pie is another dessert that your dog should be able to tolerate.


Served without butter or gravy, rice is actually a healthy addition to your dog’s diet. Plain cooked pasta—which you might have on hand for mac and cheese—is another easy treat.

And Five Foods To Skip


"In large enough quantities, onions, chives, and garlic are toxic to dogs,” says Dr. Barges. “Since dressings often contains these items, it's best to avoid them."

Cooked bones

Cooked poultry bones are a double hazard: Not only can they splinter and cause internal bleeding, but they’re a choking hazard as well. So what can you do if your lab prances into the dining room with a drumstick in her mouth? "Stay calm," says Juliana DeWillems, owner of the Washington, D.C.-area JW Dog Training and Behavior Consulting. "Since yelling may cause your dog to swallow faster, grab her favorite treat and offer a trade. It’s not ideal, but may save her life. Then put her in a safe place."

Diet foods

"Be wary of offering sugar-free or reduced-calorie foods, as some may contain xylitol, which is toxic to dogs," says Dr. Barges. Though common culprits include gum, mints, and low-calorie peanut butter, this sugar substitute often shows up in diet versions of gelatin, cookies, jelly, and flavored yogurt.


Filled with salt, sugar, and a big cooked bone, ham is a triple threat for dogs. 

Mac and cheese

On its own, a bit of cheese makes a terrific special treat for your dog. But mac and cheese, which bathes pasta in cheese enriched with butter, milk, and other delights, is too much for most dogs. "I’ve seen dogs come in with bloat caused by a plate of mac and cheese," says Dr. Rasor. "Better to offer a bit of pasta and shredded cheese without the other ingredients."

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