What Can My Dog Eat at Thanksgiving?
The Thanksgiving season means delicious food to share with family and friends. And while sharing the joy of Thanksgiving with your dog can be fun, too—after all, they’re part of the family!—it’s crucial to know which foods are safe for them and which ones should be kept for humans only. Many Thanksgiving foods could be harmful or even dangerous for dogs, and Thanksgiving is a prime time for food mishaps, digestive ailments, and vet visits.
Our pets can be curious and opportunistic, especially with all the tempting scents coming from the kitchen on Thanksgiving. To avoid any digestive distress or potential health risks for your dog, check out the lists below of the best food for dogs at Thanksgiving.
Safe Thanksgiving Foods for Dogs
- Turkey is a Thanksgiving staple, and it can be shared with your dog in small, boneless, well-cooked, and unseasoned portions. Avoid giving dogs turkey skin or bones, as they can be challenging for dogs to digest and may cause choking or intestinal blockages.
- Plain, unseasoned mashed potatoes are generally safe for dogs in moderation. However, be cautious not to include butter, milk, or any other toppings that can be harmful to dogs.
- Sweet potatoes are a nutritious and dog-friendly option. Just make sure they are cooked, plain, and not prepared with sugar or spices.
- Fresh or lightly steamed green beans can be a healthy treat for your dog. Avoid using butter or seasonings.
- Carrots are an excellent crunchy and low-calorie snack for dogs. Serve them raw or lightly steamed, but avoid adding any butter or salt.
- Fresh cranberries are safe for dogs in small quantities, but cranberry sauce, which is often loaded with sugar, should be avoided.
- Pumpkin puree is a high-fiber, low-calorie treat. But be sure to give your dog plain, cooked pumpkin! Avoid feeding your dog spiced pumpkin pie filling—the additional spices and added ingredients like sugar and condensed milk can cause an upset stomach.
Foods to Avoid Giving Your Dog on Thanksgiving
Pet parents naturally care about their four-legged friends, and Thanksgiving brings all the questions about what dogs can eat. Hopefully the section above gave you some ideas for how to share the love this Thanksgiving, but keep in mind that the following ingredients are best kept away from your dog.
- Bones: Never give your dog turkey, chicken, pork, beef, or fish bones, as they can splinter, lodge in a dog’s throat, and pose a choking hazard or cause serious internal injuries.
- Onions and Garlic: These ingredients are common in many Thanksgiving dishes and can be toxic foods to dogs, leading to gastrointestinal upset, abdominal pain, anemia, or more severe health issues.
- Fatty Foods: Rich and greasy foods like turkey skin, gravy, and buttery dishes can lead to pancreatitis in dogs. Keep these high-fat foods away from your furry friends.
- Stuffing often contains ingredients like onions, garlic, and spices, which are unsafe for dogs. The high-fat content can also be harmful.
- Chocolate and Dessert. Chocolate is well-known as toxic to dogs, and many desserts are laden with it. Never feed your dog chocolate or sugary treats, and be sure to keep them out of reach.
- Alcoholic beverages should never be given to dogs! They can lead to alcohol poisoning, which can be life-threatening. And although you may be thinking, “Of course I’d never put alcohol in my dog’s bowl,” keep in mind that some Thanksgiving foods contain traces of alcohol (like rum or brandy).
- Nuts like walnuts and macadamia nuts are not safe for dogs and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and other health issues.
- Grapes and Raisins: These seemingly innocent fruits are potentially deadly and may cause kidney failure in dogs. Be sure to keep them off your Thanksgiving table!
- Dairy products often show up in many a Thanksgiving side dish; onion stuffing, creamed peas, or cooked potatoes are often full of butter and milk. When dogs eat lactose, you may find they have gastrointestinal upset.
It’s crucial to educate your family members and guests about what food is safe for your dog. Remind them not to feed the dog table scraps—no matter how much he begs, staring up at you with those soulful pup eyes. While it can be tempting to share the joy of Thanksgiving with your favorite furry friend, their health and safety should always come first.
If you want to treat your dog during the holiday, consider offering them a dog-friendly treat or a small portion of plain, unseasoned turkey as part of their regular meal. Remember that moderation is key, and any significant deviation from their usual diet can introduce potentially toxic ingredients and lead to digestive upset—or even a veterinarian visit. Check out a few Thanksgiving recipes for dogs at the bottom of this article!
By being mindful of which food is safe for your dog and which should be avoided, you can ensure that your furry friend enjoys a happy and healthy Thanksgiving alongside the rest of your family. Sharing the love, not the leftovers, is the best way to include your beloved pet in the holiday festivities.
Tips for a Better Thanksgiving with Your Dog
Aside from keeping harmful foods out of your dog’s reach, here are other ways to make sure your dog stays safe amidst the hustle and bustle, out-of-normal routine of the Thanksgiving holiday. It may make for a better time for your guests, too!
- Secure the trash: Dogs are notorious for digging into the trash, especially when it’s filled with tantalizing leftovers. Make sure your trash cans are closed or out of reach to prevent your pup from feasting on potentially harmful scraps.
- Provide a safe space: With guests and commotion, dogs can become overwhelmed. Offer your pet a quiet, comfortable place to retreat to if they need a break from the festivities.
- Watch for decorations: Keep an eye on your dog around holiday decorations, like candles and table centerpieces, to prevent accidents or burns.
- Be cautious with guests: Inform your guests about your dog’s boundaries, especially if your pet is anxious or territorial. Ask them to approach and interact with your dog gently.
- Update ID tags: With doors opening and closing frequently, there’s a risk of your dog slipping out. Ensure their identification tags and microchip information are up to date in case they wander off.
- Brush up on your dog’s manners: an event with lots of people can be stressful for dogs, but it can also be difficult for guests who aren’t used to dogs. It’s even worse if the dog often jumps up, snatches things off tables, or roots around in people’s things. If your dog needs a refresher on obedience training, work on some skills before the holiday arrives. Check out our dog training videos with cues for your dog to learn!
Thanksgiving Recipes for Dogs
So many yummy smells come from the kitchen, many of which are off-limits. At least turkey isn’t, right? Let your dog have some turkey and pumpkin treats of his own! Try a few of these pets-safe recipes and see which one your dog likes the best.
- 6 ounces of white turkey, cooked
- 1/2 cup chopped carrots
- 1/2 cup oatmeal
Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Blitz all three ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Roll the mixture into little balls, then bake on a cookie sheet for 15 minutes.
Turkey and Veggie Loaf
- 1 cup plain, cooked turkey, chopped up
- 1 cup oats
- 1 cup mixed veggies like green beans, peas, or carrots. You can also grate apple or celery into this.
- 1 egg, beaten
- Enough chicken or turkey stock to moisten and combine
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Shape into a loaf and put into a greased loaf pan or other baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick stuck into the middle comes out clean.
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup canned pumpkin
- 3 tbsp. creamy peanut butter
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mix all ingredients into a dough, then form into a ball. Roll out the dough on a floured surface; use a fall-inspired or puppy-themed cookie cutter to cut out the dough into shapes. Place the “cookies” onto a baking sheet. For softer cookies, bake 15-20 minutes. If you want cookies with a little extra crunch, bake for about 30 minutes.
About Southeastern Guide Dogs
Would you like to learn more about the life-changing dogs that we breed, train, and match with the people who need them?
Find doggone great stories, photos, and videos about guide and service dogs at Southeastern Guide Dogs.
Learn more about our mission—or even tour our campus! Discover how our guide dogs, service dogs, and Skilled Companion Dogs bring all good things to life for adults and children facing significant challenges.