Thanksgiving Safety Tips for Pets

Thanksgiving Safety Tips for Pets


Thanksgiving is a time for family, friends, and feasting. It’s only natural to want to share the joy of a delicious meal with your four-legged family member. However, before you host a large gathering, it’s important to plan to keep your pets comfortable.  

In this post, we’ll explore how to safely enjoy Thanksgiving with your pets and what dogs can and can’t eat during the holiday. 

Tips to Safely Enjoying Thanksgiving with Your Pets 

  • Plan ahead: If you want to share a Thanksgiving treat with your dog, set aside a portion of safe foods before adding seasonings and spices to your dishes. 
  • Maintain routine: Keep your dog’s mealtime and exercise routine as normal as possible. This helps reduce stress and can keep them from begging at the table.
  • Create a safe space: Some dogs and cats may become anxious or excited during holiday festivities. Create a quiet, safe space where your pet can retreat if they need a break. 
  • Keep centerpieces with decorative plants out of reach: in addition to common toxic houseplants like tomatoes and aloe vera, holiday seasonal plants like lilies and amaryllis can be harmful to pets.
  • Provide additional stimulation for your dog: consider getting them a new chew toy or preparing an enrichment bowl to help keep them occupied and away from the dinner table. Here’s a great recipe for a frozen Thanksgiving-themed enrichment bowl you can bring out during dinner time to help keep your dog away from the table. 
    • Ingredients: Plain pumpkin puree, peanut butter, carrots, plain cooked turkey, plain sweet potato puree 
      • Line the bowl with a combination of peanut butter, sweet potato and pumpkin purees 
      • Embed the turkey pieces and carrots all over the bowl 
      • Freeze for at least 3 hours prior to dinner
  • Limit Table Scraps: Discourage guests from feeding your dog from the table, as it can lead to unhealthy habits and stomach upset. The same applies to cats if yours are especially curious.  
  • Watch for Signs of Distress: Keep an eye on your animals for signs of distress, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy. If you notice any of these symptoms, consult your vet.  

What Thanksgiving Foods Dogs Can Eat 

During dinner, it’s tempting to slide a plate of Thanksgiving goodies under the table for your dog. To ensure your pet’s safety, you must be aware of what foods are safe and what can be harmful to them.

  • Turkey (in moderation): Dogs can enjoy small portions of lean, well-cooked turkey meat. Make sure it’s boneless, skinless, and free from any marinades, spices, or seasonings. 
  • Sweet potatoes: Plain, cooked sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamins and fiber for dogs. Just make sure they aren’t seasoned with butter, salt, or spices. 
  • Green beans: Unseasoned, plain, and cooked green beans can be a healthy addition to your dog’s Thanksgiving meal. 
  • Plain pumpkin: Canned or cooked plain pumpkin is a great source of fiber and can aid in digestion for your pup. 
  • Plain white rice: Plain, cooked white rice can help soothe an upset stomach and is generally safe for dogs.

What Thanksgiving Foods Dogs Can’t Eat 

These are the foods to avoid giving your dog during Thanksgiving. Before the official dinner sit down, make sure your guests know not to give your pets any of these food items. 

  • Turkey bones: Never give your dog turkey bones, as they can splinter and cause choking or internal injuries. 
  • Stuffing: Traditional stuffing often contains ingredients like onions, garlic, and herbs that can be toxic to dogs. It’s best to avoid this altogether. 
  • Bread dough: Be careful if you’re making homemade bread for Thanksgiving because if your dog eats raw dough, the yeast will continue its process in your pet’s stomach. This could potentially be life-threatening. 
  • Gravy: Gravy is typically high in fat, salt, and seasonings, which can upset your dog’s stomach and potentially lead to pancreatitis. 
  • Onions and garlic: These ingredients are toxic to dogs and should be avoided in all forms. 
  • Nuts: Macadamia nuts and walnuts can be toxic to dogs. Avoid any dishes with nuts. 
  • Raisins and grapes: These fruits are known to be toxic to dogs and should never be included in their Thanksgiving meal. 
  • Desserts: Desserts and baked goods often contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener, which can be deadly if consumed by pets.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to show gratitude for our furry family members, but it’s essential to do so safely. By following these tips for a safe Thanksgiving celebration and being mindful of what your dog can and can’t eat, you can ensure that your dog enjoys the holiday without any unwanted trips to the vet. 


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Angelika Demers, CVT

Clinical Supervisor

Angelika started her animal health career in 2014 when she attended the University of Maine Augusta, Bangor campus, for Veterinary Technology. She graduated in early 2018 and became a Certified Veterinary Technician later that year. Her internship, and first veterinary field job, was at the MSPCA Angell in Boston, where she discovered her interest in emergency medicine. Throughout the years, she has continued to advance her knowledge in the field of emergency medicine, but also in cultivating relationships with patients and clients alike to offer the best quality care. Outside of work she likes hanging out with her cat, Mew, spending time outdoors, watching game shows, and photography.