Thanksgiving Food for Pets: Healthy or Harmful?
It’s a special time of year and many pet parents will want to include their furry family members in the Thanksgiving celebrations. We often do this by sharing a meal together.
Besides the typical Thanksgiving meal, there's also a variety of fall foods that pet's can or can't enjoy with us.
But what Thanksgiving foods are safe for pets, and what should be avoided?
Thanksgiving Foods Safe for Pets
When it comes to sharing human foods with pets, it must be done in moderation. The only safe options for pets are usually lean meats, fresh vegetables, fruits, rice, and starches like potatoes or bread.
Here are common Thanksgiving foods that pets can have:
✔️ Turkey Breast
Yes, pets can eat plain turkey breast. Turkey breast without any salt or other seasonings is safe for your pet to eat, contains a high amount of protein, and can be a delicious treat.
However, the following turkey parts should be avoided:
- Turkey skin should be avoided because it is high in fat which can lead to pancreatitis.
- Turkey bones are also not safe, as they can cause intestinal obstruction or break into sharp pieces and puncture the esophagus, stomach, or intestines.
✔️ Potatoes and Yams
Yes, pets can eat plain boiled or baked potatoes and yams (sweet potatoes). Potatoes that aren't covered in butter and cream make a great treat for pets.
✔️ Fresh Vegetables
Yes, plain vegetables are safe for your pet to eat, and make excellent healthy treats. Be sure to cut them into small pieces to avoid the risk of choking.
Keep reading: Can Dogs Eat Peas? A Vet Weighs In
It is best to avoid sauces and seasonings, some of which may contain toxic ingredients.
✔️ Fresh Fruit
Yes, most fresh fruits are safe for your pet to eat. However, fruit should be cut into small pieces and pits removed to avoid choking hazards.
- Some exceptions are grapes, raisins, and currants, which can lead to fatal kidney failure even if consumed in very small amounts.
- Cherry pits and apple seeds also contain a small amount of amygdalin, which is converted to cyanide and can be toxic if large amounts are consumed.
Yes, plain baked bread is a safe option for your pet. This bread should not contain any seasonings, spices, salt, or chocolate.
Examples of bread you can give your pet on Thanksgiving are rolls and biscuits.
Safe or Unsafe? Fall Foods for Dogs Quiz
Safe or Unsafe? Fall Foods for Dogs Quiz
Turkey Skin and Bones
Thanksgiving Foods Harmful for Pets
It's tempting to want to share your delicious Thanksgiving foods with your pets and include them in festivities. However, most human foods we enjoy on this holiday are actually harmful to pets.
Here's the most common Thanksgiving foods you should avoid giving to pets:
No, pets should not eat Thanksgiving gravy because it's generally too high in fat and salt to be a safe option for your pet. It may also contain onion or garlic, which are toxic to dogs and cats.
No, pets should not eat Thanksgiving stuffing. Stuffing is likely to contain toxic ingredients, such as garlic, onion, raisins, or currants, so it is not a good option for your pet.
❌ Cranberry Sauce
No, pets should not have cranberry sauce. This is generally too high in sugar and not recommended. Most processed foods contain chemicals that are toxic or hard to digest for cats and dogs.
❌ Pumpkin Pie
No, pumpkin pie is not safe for pets to eat. While unseasoned canned or fresh pumpkin can be a tasty high-fiber treat for your pet, pumpkin pie filling is too high in sugar and should be avoided.
❌ Artificial Sweeteners
No, artificial sweeteners should not be given to pets. Desserts are too high in sugar and fat to be healthy for pets. Some may also contain the artificial sweetener xylitol, which is extremely toxic and can cause a dangerous drop in blood sugar.
No, it's not advised to give your pets nuts. While some types of nuts may be safe, others (like the macadamia nut) are actually toxic.
All nuts are high in fat and calorie dense, and due to their size and texture may also cause a risk of choking.
❌ Onions and Garlic
No, pets should not eat garlic, onions, chives, and leeks. These plants, belonging to the allium family, are toxic to both dogs and cats in any form (fresh, dried, powdered, etc.).
No, dogs are cats should not eat salty foods. Too much salt is unhealthy for anyone, including our furry family members. Ingestion of excessively salty food can cause increased thirst and urination, and in severe cases salt poisoning.
No, chocolate is one of the most toxic foods for pets and should be avoided completely. Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, both of which are toxic to dogs and cats.
On Thanksgiving in particular, higher concentrations of these substances are found in baking chocolate, semisweet chocolate, and dark chocolate. However, consumption of any chocolate should prompt a call to your veterinarian.
Depending on the amount and type of chocolate ingested, signs of toxicity can include gastrointestinal upset, progressing to a racing heart, tremors, and seizures in severe cases.
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What if Your Pet Eats Something They Shouldn’t?
If you have any concerns that your pet has eaten something they shouldn’t have, including the foods listed above, immediately contact a veterinarian.
The pet poison hotline is also available 24/7 at:
- Phone number: (855) 764-7661
- Website: petpoisonhelpline.com
Depending on what your pet ate, they may need to see a vet for prompt treatment.
While there are a variety of human foods that pets can eat, the majority of Thanksgiving-specific foods are unsafe for pets. This is due to the high amounts of salt, sugar, chocolate, and onions or garlic in prepared foods.
However, if you do planning on giving your pet some food off the Thanksgiving table, ensure it's plain meats, vegetables, fruits, and bread.