Thanksgiving food your pets can eat, too!

The dos and don’ts on feeding your dog or cat traditional Thanksgiving food

Dog by table

If you’re lucky, you just get to show up and enjoy the food on Thanksgiving Day — but if you’re like many, you’ve already drafted your first grocery list and planned the big meal. Most of us aren’t too shy about second helpings, but how much of it is safe for your furry family members?

A bite or two of turkey is safe, but avoid the skin and spices

Animal Humane Society Chief Veterinarian Dr. Graham Brayshaw says when it comes to turkey, a bite or two is safe for cats and dogs — just be sure it’s free of fatty turkey skins and seasoning. High fat content in turkey skin can cause pancreatitis, which is caused when the pancreas overworks to produce enzymes that break down food. When giving animals a bite of your bird, make sure there’s no seasoning on it as well. Spices wreak havoc on canine and feline stomachs!

Never give your pet cooked turkey bones

Cooked bones are dangerous. Bones can lead to choking and cause obstructions in gastrointestinal tracts. Make sure the trash is behind a closed door or cabinet so they don't sneak one when you're not looking.

Other holiday foods to avoid giving your pet

  • Desserts: Chocolate is unsafe for dogs and cats. The darker the chocolate, the worse it is. This also includes pumpkin pie and xylitol, an artificial sweetener sometimes used in baking.
  • Grapes and raisins: can cause kidney damage
  • Nuts: can cause vomiting, diarrhea and pancreatitis
  • Salty snacks: causes excessive thirst and sodium poisoning
  • Garlic, onions and chives: irritates stomachs in small amounts, toxic in large amounts

Watch for symptoms and be prepared to act

Dogs, rather than cats, tend to have more issues after Thanksgiving since they have more of a tendency to gorge on food, but cats can eat holiday plants, which can be poisonous. With both species, vomiting and diarrhea are early signs of trouble, but lethargy or pain means a trip to the vet immediately.

Include them in the festivities with their own special treat

If you don’t want your pet feeling left out, the best way to include them is to get them a special treat of their own, according to Brayshaw. You can pick up a turkey-based treat at your local pet store. Or jump to dessert and give them either raw pumpkin or make your dog a tasty pumpkin treat. Sweet potatoes are also great option cooked or plain without seasonings or toppings.

Including your pet during Thanksgiving festivities and other holidays makes them unforgettable because our furry best friends are important members of the family. Just make sure you do it in a safe, fun way so everyone can enjoy a day of thanks.

For caring, compassionate advice and resources to address all your animal concerns.

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