Tips & Info

Thanksgiving For The Pets

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Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends to gather around the table for holiday cheer and feasts, but, it also is a time for distress, and hazards, for our pets. Our pets may be thankful for some of the great food we might (and I definitely will) give them off of our dinner plate, but unthankful for some of it that may make them sick, or worse. The decorations and people gathering is a joyous time for us, but pets may not be so much. Follow these Thanksgiving for the pets tips to keep your pets healthy and safe during this thankful (and any other) holiday.


Overindulging in the family feast can be unhealthy for humans, but even worse for pets. Fatty foods are hard for animals to digest. Poultry bones can damage your pet’s digestive tract. And holiday sweets can contain ingredients that are poisonous to pets. Check out the food Do’s and Don’ts to give your pet this holiday (or any day).


  • Apples
    An apple a day helps keep the vet away! Apples are fantastic, affordable, healthy, and low calorie treat for dogs. They are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and dietary fiber, and they also help keep a dog’s teeth clean along with freshening the breath. Please be sure to remove the seeds and core as they are choking hazards.
  • Carrots
    Pets can also enjoy this healthy vegetable with no worries to you or for them (in small quantities). Make sure the carrots are just plain and not seasoned.
  • Corn
    Plain loose corn is perfectly safe to give your pets (just leave off any seasonings). Just give your pet a small portion, and make sure it is OFF the cob (a possible choking hazard).
  • Cranberries
    Cranberries can improve your dog’s bladder health, reduce tartar and plaque buildup, fight bacteria, and help prevent cancer, among other benefits. You can feed raw, cooked or dried cranberries to your dog in moderation.
  • Green Beans
    Plain green beans are actually quite good for your pets when they aren’t seasoned with other ingredients such as garlic and salt. If your pet enjoys the greens, feel free to give them a small amount.
  • Mashed Potatoes
    So long as your mashed potatoes are not heavily seasoned with garlic or salt, they pose no serious risks to your pet (when fed in moderation)
  • Pumpkin
    Plain cooked or canned pumpkin is a great way to offer something something that is sweet and also safe and healthy to eat for the pets. Just make sure it is not prepared with any ingredients or artificial sweeteners. Canned pumpkin has proven to benefit dogs’ and cats’ digestive tracts.
  • Rolls/Bread
    Small amount of cooked bread is perfectly safe for your pet, but make sure it is in moderation. Uncooked dough is VERY TOXIC so make sure it is cooked thoroughly.
  • Sweet Potatoes/Yams
    A sweet treat for pups to have are sweet potatoes. They are an excellent source of dietary fiber, which helps the digestive system function more effectively. Sweet potatoes are also low in fat and rich in vitamins A, B6, C, calcium, potassium, and iron.
  • Turkey
    Here is nothing wrong in giving a portion of the main Thanksgiving meal to your cat or dog — as long as the fatty pieces have been removed. AND make sure to remove any and all bones first.


  • Alcohol
    Alcohol (beer, wine or stronger stuff) can be extremely hazardous to your pet. Do not ever allow them to drink any of this and definitely make sure not to leave any unattended.
  • Baked Sweets
    Some baked goods are sweetened with xylitol (sugar substitute). It can cause your dog’s blood sugar to drop and can also cause liver failure. Early symptoms include vomiting, lethargy, and coordination problems. Eventually, your dog may have seizures.
  • Chocolate
    Pets have as much as a sweet tooth as you do! BUT chocolate can cause serious health problems such as gastrointestinal upset and large quantities may even lead to seizures, coma or death.
  • Cooked Bones
    Raw bones are generally not bad for dogs (as they do not generally splinter), but cooked bones on the other hand may splinter and damage your pet’s stomach and intestines. Many pets enjoy chewing raw chicken or turkey necks and raw chicken wings that are free of salmonella and other bacteria.
  • Garlic and Onions
    Even though it is possibly OK in SMALL amounts, it is best to avoid giving your pets any of these. Garlic and onions contain ingredients that can cause hemolytic anemia if eaten in large portions.
  • Grapes or Raisins
    Make sure your pet don’t get any of these — as little as 9 ounces of grapes/raisins can cause severe gastrointestinal distress. Whether plain or in stuffing or some other food, avoid them at all costs!
  • Gravy
    Plain gravy is not a problem for pets. But when you start adding ingredients such as onions, sage, garlic, or other stuff as most people do, then it becomes a problem for the pet to have.
  • Mushrooms
    Mushrooms can be toxic to dogs, able to cause liver and kidney damage as well as other problems. Be careful as to what you feed your pet, as mushrooms may be cooked into a variety of dishes such as casseroles, stuffing, and vegetable plates.
  • Nuts
    While a few nuts may be OK for dogs (non-salted peanuts, almonds and cashews), definitely stay away from Thanksgiving nuts such as Walnuts and Macadamia nuts. These can possibly cause gastric intestinal upset or even an obstruction in your dog’s body. English walnuts can contain tremorgenic mycotoxins which can cause seizures or neurological symptoms.
  • Onions
    Onions are bad for pets as they have an ingredient called thiosulphate which is toxic to cats and dogs. If swallowed, onions may cause a condition called hemolytic anemia, which is characterized by damage to the red blood cells. Onion toxicity can cause the red blood cells circulating through your pet’s body to burst.
  • Stuffing
    While we like to get stuffed with stuffing, avoid feeding it to your pets as it usually contains such ingredients as onions, scallions or garlic. These ingredients (as explained on this list) are extremely toxic to dogs and cats and can cause a life-threatening anemia.
  • Salt
    Salt can cause vomiting, dehydration, and tremors in your pet consumes this in excess. Make sure your pet doesn’t get into raw salt and watch out for them eating particularly salted foods.
  • Raw Eggs
    Raw eggs can cause skin and coat problems to your pet and may even lead to food poisoning. With all the cooking that is being done, be aware of any left over or spilled raw eggs.
  • Turkey Skin
    While I (and many others) think the turkey skin is one of the best parts of the turkey, pets should avoid this at all cost. All that fat and seasoning of the skin in bad for pets and may cause pancreatic, and the seasonings can irritate your dog’s stomach also.


Aside from food, many people have family and friends over for Thanksgiving, which may disrupt your pets daily routine and space. Please plan ahead of your Thanksgiving festivities to keep your pets safe and make the experience less stressful for everyone.

  • Safe Space
    Thanksgiving can bring in a whole lot of people into a small space and this may excite, or distress, a pet (even one that is usually comfortable around a group of people or strangers). It is best to have a Safe Space set out for your pet in another room with a crate, some food, favorite toy, etc. This will help reduce the emotional stress placed upon your pet and also protect both your pet and your guests from possible injury. Just make sure to check on them every once in a while.
  • Watch The Exists
    Even if you’re pet is calm and collected around a group of people, be sure to keep an eye on them, especially when people are coming and going from the house. ALso make sure all fences are shut and secure, in case a pet does escape from inside, or when they are outside for a potty or play break.
  • ID Tags & Collars
    At all times (not just during holiday parties), make sure your pet have proper IDs and current contact information on them at all times. You should especially have an up-to-date microchip with registered information.
    No matter how tempting it may be for your guests (or maybe even you), don’t have your guests feed the pets from their plate. This is unsanitary, may cause the animals to misbehave or beg other guests for food, but most importantly, the animal may get something that is disagreeable with them but in the worse case, harmful to them. Plan a time after the guests have left, and you knowing what you are giving them, to give your pets their very own Thanksgiving Dinner!
  • Throw Away Trash
    A turkey carcass sitting out on the carving table, or left in a trash container that is open or easily opened, could be deadly to your family pet. Dispose of turkey carcasses and bones – and anything used to wrap or tie the meat, such as strings, bags and packaging – in a covered, tightly secured trash bag placed in a closed trash container outdoors (or behind a closed, locked door).
  • Festive Decorations
    Special holiday displays or candles are attractive to pets as well as people. Never leave a pet alone in an area with a lit candle; it could result in a fire. And pine cones, needles and other decorations can cause intestinal blockages or even perforate an animal’s intestine if eaten.

If you follow these tips and suggestions, your pet should have a fun, safe, and most importantly to them, a delicious, holiday!

If you are traveling this holiday, please check out our Article (and In-Fur-Graphic) on Pet Travel 101.

Thanksgiving Pet Tips ‘In-Fur-Graphic’

In-Fur-graphic: Pet Thanksgiving Food & Tips

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