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11 Holiday Foods that are Toxic for your Dog

Celebrating the Holidays is fun and exciting! Your German Shepherd is a beloved part of your family. While you may be tempted to give them some extra treats to celebrate, be careful about what you feed to them. Some holiday foods can be toxic to dogs. The last thing you want is your pet to become ill or worse because of the delicious item you gave to them.

Be mindful of your guests with such food items too. They may mean well when they see your dog and want to give them something off their plate. While they would never harm them intentionally, it has happened. Perhaps you don't have a dog yet, but the plan is to introduce a German Shepard puppy to the family as one of the gifts! They are curious dogs and can get into food that is left out.


Hosting holiday events often means more alcohol in the home than usual. Make sure it is kept where your dog can't get into it. You may be tempted to go to bed when guests leave and clean up in the morning. Your dog may be roaming around the yard or in the house, though, and find leftover drinks. Alcohol can be toxic to dogs and harm the liver. It can make it hard for them to breathe and cause tremors. In large amounts, it can put them into a coma or result in death.

If your German Shepherd is still a puppy, a small amount of alcohol can create plenty of damage for them. It is toxic to dogs of all sizes, but the smaller the size, the less alcohol it takes for them to be harmed. Some alcohol is harsher such as hard liquor versus beer or wine. Sometimes, alcohol is also found in foods. It is going to create havoc for their central nervous system.


Various recipes created over the holidays can contain caffeine. It is toxic to dogs, but they tend to love the flavor and taste. If they can reach something on the table, they may consume all of it before you know they did. Drinking too much caffeine can be fatal to dogs. The central nervous system of dogs is more sensitive than that of humans.

This is why caffeine is so toxic to dogs. Watch out for them getting into the trash around the holidays too. They may do so because they can smell food in the garbage. If they get into tea or coffee grounds, it can be a considerable level of caffeine getting into their bloodstream.

Candy and Other Sweets

Sugar is never a good ingredient to give to dogs because of how their body processes it. Many candy products and sweets contain Xylitol, and that ingredient is toxic to dogs. Make sure any such sweets aren't accessible.

Chocolate and Cocoa

Many fabulous desserts and treats over the holidays contain chocolate or cocoa. While they are great for humans to enjoy, dogs can become seriously ill from them. This is due to the chemical, Theobromine. This chemical is toxic to dogs, and it can cause them to suffer from seizures. If they consume enough of it, they may die.

Chocolate and cocoa also contain caffeine, so your dog gets a double hit of toxic elements when they consume them. The digestive system of a dog has a more challenging time, and it takes up to three times longer for them to digest the products than for a human. Your dog can be in a great deal of pain and discomfort during that digestion process, even with small amounts of chocolate or cocoa.

Cooking Ingredients

Making family recipes and delicious dishes is typical for the holidays. This may introduce various cooking ingredients into the home you may not typically use. They include chives, onions, and garlic. Your dog may be curious about such foods. If they are in the kitchen when you cook, make sure you don't accidentally drop any of these items on the floor. Don't give them any leftovers off food that contain these ingredients either.

Such cooking ingredients are toxic to dogs. The blood cells can become damaged, resulting in anemia. This can leave your dog low on energy, and they may not eat as they should. It can make it hard for them to heal after an injury too.

Dairy Products

While your dog may enjoy a treat you give them with dairy; their body won't respond to it well. Too much dairy can be toxic to dogs. Even a small amount can cause them discomfort. They may experience abdominal pain and diarrhea. If your dog has a dairy allergy, it can make it hard for them to breathe or result in death. Don't give your German Shepherd anything with milk, cream, cheese, or butter in it.

Most dogs are lactose intolerant. You may think you are sharing a wonderful holiday treat with them. In reality, you are harming them and creating plenty of pain for them. It takes time for the dairy to be flushed through the system, and they will struggle until it does. It won't take much dairy at all for them to feel those adverse effects.


One of the traditional items to celebrate the holiday is eggnog. While humans may enjoy it with or without alcohol, it can be toxic to dogs. Don't give it to them as a treat and make sure they can't access any of it someone left sitting somewhere. Eggnog contains sugar, milk, and raw eggs. None of these ingredients are suitable for your dog.

Grapes and Raisins

If fruitcake is part of your holiday traditions, be cautious as the ingredients may be toxic to dogs. The most significant risks are from grapes and raisins. They don't need much of either to have dire consequences. Such fruits can cause the kidneys to fail. When that happens, the body isn't able to flush out toxins. Never give your dog fruitcake as a treat.


It may be tempting to give your pet a piece of ham or bacon. They may be patiently watching you cook, and you are sampling the food too. Such food can be toxic to dogs, even in small amounts. It may cause your dog to develop pancreatitis. This is going to create bloating and discomfort. It can also be life-threatening to them.

Nutmeg and Nuts

Nutmeg and nuts may be part of your holiday baking recipes. They are toxic to dogs and dangerous, even in small amounts. Don't leave the container of nutmeg where your dog can get it or feed them food made with it. This food can cause your dog to have hallucinations and severe abdominal pain. It may cause seizures.

The fat content in nuts makes them off-limits for your German Shepherd. Consuming them can make it hard to digest food correctly. It can cause stomach pain and diarrhea. They can be toxic to dogs with a nut allergy, making it difficult for them to breathe.

The most serious one to avoid is the Macadamia nut, which is often used for cookies and other baked goods. This food can cause your dog to vomit, experience tremors, increase their heart rate, or result in death.

Sugar and Salt

Just about all recipes call for sugar or salt. Both of them are toxic to dogs. Consuming salt can make your dog very thirsty. It can cause them to urinate more often and cause a UTI. If you continually give your dog food with sugar or salt, it can cause their kidneys to fail. Salt can increase the risk of diabetes or heart disease. Sugar can increase the risk of diabetes and obesity.

When to Contact your Vet

The size of your German Shepherd, the type of food they consumed, and its amount all influence how much harm it can create. If your dog experiences any of the following, it is best to contact your vet. Share with them what the dog consumed, how much you think they consumed if you aren't sure, and how long ago. Share any symptoms they show which are out of the ordinary, including:

  • Bloating

  • Diarrhea

  • Disoriented

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Excessive thirst

  • Seizures

  • Tremors

  • Vomiting

Should you need an emergency visit to your local vet hospital, you may regret not having pet health insurance. It's not as expensive as you may think and it could save you a fortune. Read our article here on the 4 highest rated pet health insurance companies that you should consider.

Keep your Dog Safe Over the Holidays

Do your part to keep your dog safe over the holidays. Make sure they don't have access to any of these toxic foods. Clean up after gatherings to ensure they can't access food left out anywhere. Prevention starts with being well-informed. Knowing these 11 common holiday foods can be toxic for your dog helps you avoid giving them any.

Some households go even further, and they don't keep these food items in the home. They don't want to take the chance with their German Shepherd. If you do get a new puppy for Christmas, make sure you have food on hand to give it. (See our article here on Best 10 foods for German Shepherd Puppies) Ensure your guests and even children in the household know what your dog can have and what they can't! Consider some homemade dog treats for your dog to give them something special to enjoy over the holidays!

Welcome to the Pack!


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