Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday. It can be full of friends and family, fun times, and the wonderful aromas of food floating through the air enticing you…. and your dog. There are a few things during the holiday that your pet needs to avoid in order to stay healthy and stay out of trouble.


Grapes, raisins, and currants:

These are commonly found in stuffing, side dishes, baked goods, desserts, and snacks.  Ingestion can result in severe acute kidney failure. It can take a few days for signs of illness to appear and damage to the kidneys may have already occurred.


Onions, leeks, chives, and garlic:

These common kitchen foods are from the same family. Ingestions can result in damage to the red blood cells.  Cats are especially sensitive, and can develop a severe anemia (low red blood cell count) from even small amounts. It is typically seen more with chronic ingestion (when they are eating it regularly).



Xylitol is a natural, sugar-free sweetener used as a substitute for sugar. It is found in multiple products such as gums, mints, mouth washes, chewable vitamins, baked goods, chocolate, etc. Ingestion can result in an insulin spike, causing a life-threatening hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). In higher doses it can even cause liver failure.


Fatty foods:

High fat food such as butter, grease, gravy/dressing, turkey skin, bacon/ham, etc. can cause upset stomach, diarrhea, and can even result in severe pancreatitis. Certain breeds are can be sensitive to pancreatitis including miniature schnauzers, Shetland sheepdogs, and Yorkshire terriers.

Bones and turkey legs:

It sounds like a delicious and fun treat for your pet, but can be quite dangerous. Chunks of bone may become lodged somewhere in the digestive tract (from esophagus to colon). Bones can break into shards and sharp pieces can puncture the walls of the digestive tract.

turkey leg

Unbaked bread dough:

After ingesting unbaked dough, the warm environment of the stomach makes the yeast rise and release carbon dioxide, causing a distended abdomen. In many large breeds, a gas filled stomach can twist, which is called gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV). A twisted stomach does not receive adequate blood supply, which if not corrected quickly, can result in tissue death and death of the patient.

Also, the yeast and sugar in the unbaked dough are metabolized to alcohol, resulting in secondary alcohol poisoning in your dog.

bread dough


Alcohol poisoning can result from ingesting alcoholic drinks as well as ingesting unbaked bread dough and rum-soaked fruitcake. Accidental ingestion can cause slowed respiration, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and coma.



Corn-on-the-cob, bones, or other large items can cause gastrointestinal obstruction. The string that ties the turkey legs together can cause a condition known as a linear foreign body. The string can get caught at one end and the intestines will “accordion”, obstructing the gastrointestinal tract and causing complications. Ingestion of turkey skin, moldy food, fatty grizzle, etc. causes what we call “garbage gut”. Garbage gut can cause gastroenteritis (vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain) or more severely, pancreatitis (severe inflammation of the pancreas).


Recommendation for avoiding incidents:

  • Keep your dog out of the kitchen and dining room to avoid “counter surfing”.
  • Make sure your guests know the house rules to not feed your pets. Your friends and family may not be aware of the common kitchen foods that are poisonous.
  • Take out the trash. Pets can be pretty sneaky and will have a party in the garbage can if allowed.

If you think your pet ingested something potentially dangerous, contact us at 218-751-2753. After normal business hours or on holidays, follow the prompts to have a veterinarian paged and they will call you back.