Can I Give my Dog Holiday Food at Thanksgiving?

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Holiday Food Calories and the Exercise Your Dog Will Need to Burn it Off

Holiday season is once again upon us. In the U.S., we will be celebrating our Thanksgiving holiday in less than two weeks and will soon follow this up with Christmas/Hanukkah, and New Year celebrations. Most people will tend to overindulge and likely will pack on a few pounds. The same can be true for our dogs, so it is the perfect time to present (again) the calorie amounts and exercise equivalents of several popular holiday dishes.


If you are like me, you probably enjoy sharing some of the Thanksgiving and other holiday food with your dogs. Turkey, ham, sweet potatoes are all delicious treats that we and our dogs love. However, extra treating can lead to extra pounds on our bodies and our dog’s bodies.
thanksgiving table


It is perfectly fine to give your dog a holiday plate of food. Just don’t overdo it and make sure that other family members don’t also give the dog a holiday food plate as well. To make sure that your dog doesn’t take in too many extra calories, account for the extra calories by cutting back on their regular food and treats and/or adding a little more exercise to burn some more calories. Just how much exercise will you need to burn off those extra holiday calories? Well, in some cases, probably more than you will have time for.


Calories in Popular Holiday Food

We compiled a sampling of popular holiday foods along with their calorie amounts for a small one ounce serving. We then calculated how long an average 15 lb. dog would need to walk or run to burn off that extra food. The results are shown below.


Food Calories Per Oz Minutes Walking* (2.5 MPH) Minutes Running* (6 MPH)
Turkey, White 44 120 38
Turkey, Dark 52 155 45
Ham, Honey Baked 34 100 30
Green Beans 10 30 8
Mashed Potato 32 95 27
Sweet Potato, Candied 40 110 34
Cranberry Sauce 42 118 36
Chestnuts, Roasted 70 195 60
Apple Pie 74 205 63

* Number of minutes a 15 lb. dog would need to exercise to burn off 1 oz. of each food


The calorie values listed above are for one ounce portions of each of those holiday dishes. To put this all into perspective and into a common serving basis, a one-half cup serving would mean 4 times the values in the table.


What Should I do if My Dog Gets too Much Holiday Food Scraps?

If your family does over indulge your dog with holiday food, then besides some extra exercise that day, simply cut back on their regular food for their normal dinner. Remember not to exercise your dog right after they have eaten. We like to wait at least an hour.


Depending on how much holiday food you give them, it is also OK to cut back on their next few day’s meals as well. After all, a plump turkey is cool and festive. A plump dog is not.


Happy Thanksgiving from the folks and dogs at


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  1. Cocoa will get some turkey but will run it off 🙂
    Julie recently posted…Silly DogMy Profile

  2. I always give the huskies a holiday meal with us, just a bit of turkey, broccoli etc… we burn it off together LOL!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
    Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady recently posted…Sofa Wars – Huskies VS Cats Part #2My Profile

  3. Our main concern isn’t caloric in this regard. Eko and Penny practically invite themselves to the table as is, if they start getting plates of food I don’t think we’ll ever eat in peace again.

  4. We usually give the boys a holiday themed dog food and eat at my son’s house. We don’t need the leftovers around here! LOL!
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…BFTB NETWoof News November 16, 2015 #DogNewsMy Profile

  5. I look at Thanksgiving as a day like any other – sure, Blueberry can have a few things – but just little bits and she’s happy with that. I usually will boil some sweet potatoes and give her a few cubes in her regular meal, but I do that on a normal basis on occasion anyway. Overindulging means a trip to the vet if the dog gets really sick. Who wants to spend the evening at the ER vet just because they thought the dog needed that full course Thanksgiving meal? Dogs don’t know what day it is – so hopefully people will use their common sense and not overload their dogs with all that rich food.
    Blueberry’s human recently posted…A Spotted Monkey on my BackMy Profile

  6. I would be happy just splitting the turkey with my sisters, but that probably won’t happen. We always get a few small pieces of turkey, but that is about it.
    Emma recently posted…Easy DIY Holiday Treat Jars #NaturalBalanceMy Profile

  7. Some turkey, green beans and plain sweet potato sound perfect for Haley! The calories counts really come in handy when considering how much you should share with your dog. Great advice! 🙂
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  8. My dogs thank you for your permission to share,
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  9. Thanks for the guidance. This is fantastic information. I worry about the richness and extra fat in holiday food so instead of feeding scraps, we make our dogs their own meals. This year, they’ll have bone broth, green tripe, and I’m picking up some freeze dried Bravo Homestyle Complete.

    They’ll love it!
    Kimberly Gauthier recently posted…What You Need to Know About the Dog Flu VaccineMy Profile

    • I’m sure they will love it.
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  10. Great information, one more thing don’t give fatty foods as the pancreas won’t like it and make your pooch sick.
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