Thanksgiving is the time to show your pet extra gratitude and love. However, while we know that the key to their heart is through their stomach, you should not show that gratitude and love by sharing traditional Thanksgiving foods, because many will not leave your pet feeling warm and fuzzy inside. Many common Thanksgiving foods contain ingredients toxic to pets and can lead to a dangerous condition—or a costly trip to the emergency vet. Our Bayview Animal Hospital team shares Thanksgiving foods to avoid feeding to your pet and the pet-friendly substitutes that allow them to safely celebrate with the family.

Say “No” to these potential pet hazards

Resisting your pet’s sad, woeful eyes as they watch you enjoy your Thanksgiving feast may be almost impossible, but you must resist for their sake, and remind your guests to do the same. Do not share the following foods with your pet:

  • Turkey skin — Turkey skin and dark meat are high in fat, and can cause inflammation of the pancreas (i.e., pancreatitis). Severe pancreatitis can be life-threatening. 
  • Turkey bones —  Resist the urge to toss your pet a leftover turkey bone. When chewed, raw or cooked bones—especially poultry and turkey bones—can splinter and puncture or lacerate the esophagus or intestines, fracture teeth, or become a blockage that requires emergency surgical removal.
  • Garlic and onions — Turkey is often seasoned with garlic and onions, which are toxic to pets and can cause digestive issues, such as vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Sweet treats — Many desserts contain pet-toxic ingredients, such as chocolate or the the sugar substitute xylitol. Chocolate acts as a stimulant in dogs, while xylitol ingestion can cause a dangerously low blood sugar drop and liver failure.
  • Alcohol — The sweet smell of some alcoholic drinks attracts many curious pets. Alcohol toxicity signs in pets are similar to humans’, and include incoordination, lethargy, vomiting, slowed breathing, and collapse. Pets may also experience a significant drop in blood sugar (i.e., hypoglycemia), blood pressure, and temperature. If you suspect your pet has consumed alcohol or you notice any alcohol toxicity signs, seek veterinary attention quickly, as severe toxicity can lead to seizures or respiratory failure.
  • Toxic plants and decor — Decorating your home for Thanksgiving makes the day more festive, but certain decorations can be dangerous for your pet. Common fall plants and flowers, including autumn crocuses, chrysanthemums, amaryllis, and lilies, are toxic to pets. Acorns contain tannins, which are dangerous for pets, and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and gastrointestinal blockage, and kidney failure, in severe cases. 
  • Bread dough — Fluffy rolls are a Thanksgiving staple, but bread dough can pose a serious threat to your pet’s health. The yeast in unbaked dough that your pet eats can swell in their stomach, causing bloat. In addition, the fermenting yeast produces alcohol and can cause alcohol toxicity.

Say “Yes” to these safe pet alternatives

Your pet is an important family member, and you do not need to exclude them from your Thanksgiving celebrations. Many pet-safe alternatives are available, including:

  • Skinless white turkey meat  Skinless, unseasoned, boneless white turkey meat that’s been well cooked is safe for pets in small amounts. 
  • Dental chews — Rather than turkey bones, offer your pet a dental chew that they will enjoy—and that will also boost their oral health. Choose a dental chew that carries the VOHC seal of acceptance, because these products have been proven to reduce plaque or tartar by at least 10%.
  • Fruits and vegetables — Give your pet their own healthy dessert. Many fruits and vegetables, including blueberries, watermelons, peaches, strawberries, green beans, carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and pumpkin, are safe and nutritious for pets in small amounts. Ensure you wash all fruits and vegetables, and remove rinds, inedible skins, seeds, and pits before feeding them to your pet. 
  • Low-sodium chicken broth — Add flavor to your pet’s water with a small amount of low-sodium chicken broth. They will love the taste of their own non-toxic “cocktail.” 
  • Frozen xylitol-free peanut butter —Your pet will be thankful for this yummy, simple-to-make Thanksgiving treat. Fill a Kong with a mixture of nonfat Greek yogurt, xylitol-free peanut butter, and pumpkin puree. Serve immediately, or freeze overnight for a longer-lasting treat.

Help your pet celebrate Thanksgiving safely with these pet-approved, safe treats. However, If your pet does snag a food dish or drink that may be toxic, do not hesitate to contact the Bayview Animal Hospital team for help.