It’s that thankfully delicious time of year again! Happy Thanksgiving everyone! You, your family, friends and pets deserve this time off to share the love with one another as well as the food. However, there are a few items to keep in mind when it comes to sharing with your pets. Before you get super busy with the holiday festivities, take note of a few safety tips when celebrating Thanksgiving with your cat or dog.

1. Avoid Giving Pets Any Type of Bones

Don’t look into those sweet, large puppy eyes staring at you from under the table. It may seem like a savory, crunchy way to reward a dog for patience or doing a trick, but bones from poultry or ham are especially harmful to dogs. When cooked, these bones shatter easily and can cause little bones to get stuck or cut your pet’s throat. Make sure if your pet gets a bite of turkey it is boneless. Be sure to cook the the shared pieces; raw poultry from the store isn’t like fresh meat and can contain bacteria like salmonella.

2. The Main Dish: Turkey

Dogs can have minimal amounts, but many recommend since turkey can be fatty, to give them none at all. Give your dog boneless cuts of cooked meat. Cats, on the other hand, can tolerate turkey much better, but still leave out the fattier pieces. Sprinkle a few pieces of an unseasoned turkey breast, for your pet to reduce the amount of fattiness.

3. Leave the Fats Where They’re At

It sounds like a great idea to pour some gravy or turkey oils or fat over your pet’s food so they can get a taste. However, dogs and cats shouldn’t have this much fat, or in the case of gravy., too much salt. They’re both difficult to digest, even for some cats. Be sure to keep their curious noses away from trash that might smell the fatty foods.

4. Pie? Cake? No.

Sunny the Dog, Ready to Eat!Dogs shouldn’t eat any human baked goods, on Thanksgiving and in general. Many baked items, chocolates or candies are sweetened with xylitol and can cause hypoglycemia, meaning your dog’s blood sugar will drop. They can lead to seizures, vomiting or worse, liver failure. Raw bread dough containing yeast can convert its sugars into CO2 and alcohol, resulting in stomach bloat and possibly a drunken animal. Skip the sugar, there are many other pet ‘sweets’ you can purchase or create on your own!

5. Dear God, Don’t Give Them Pumpkin!

While it is actually okay to give your dog pumpkin (the canned variety, not pie filling), unless you want a small poo disaster, don’t give it to them! Pumpkin is a wonderful stool softener for dogs who have constipation or diarrhea, but in excess can be toxic to dogs (due to too much vitamin A), can cause diarrhea… or a mess near your dining table. At most, serve them about a tablespoon. Pumpkin pie filling is a definite no-no due to it’s sugar content, and raw pumpkin can be given if it is very fresh and seeds and rind are removed.

6. Spices in General

If you consider giving your pet anything, give it to them with the least amount of spices and fat as possible. Dogs, you haven’t noticed, just about don’t care about how flavorful an item is, they might just eat anything! Cats are picky as can be, but spices won’t make much of a difference to them. It is better and much safer to leave the food for them plain than to risk an unwanted tummy ache or vet visit.

7. Remember the Foods They Can’t Eat

Your guests may bring foods of all kinds that may relate to their traditions, so you should definitely ask what is in them. Take a look at the list below to compare to the ingredients in your guests’ dishes.

For Dogs NO:

  • Chocolate
  • Grapes/Raisins
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Avocados
  • Peppers, except green
  • Fat Trimmings
  • Alcohol
  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Pomegranates
  • Dough with Yeast
  • Caffeine
  • Corn Cobs (some dogs are allergic to corn)
  • Gum/Candy
  • Baked Goods

Some dogs can have milk items, but most dogs are lactose intolerant. Also, peanut butter is pretty much the only nut your dog should consume, because it is a legume, not a nut.

For Cats NO:

  • Chocolate
  • Grapes/Raisins
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Fat Trimmings
  • Alcohol
  • Cheese
  • Milk
  • Caffeine
  • Raw fish
  • Tuna (unless as cat food)
  • Green Potatoes
  • Green Tomatoes
  • Raw eggs
  • Dough with Yeast

Adult cats cannot have milk as they are lactose intolerant, however, kittens can have that little saucer of milk since they haven’t lost their lactase enzyme yet. Also, cats should have tuna only as it is made in cat food.

In conclusion, most of the items we eat are not going to be suitable for your pet, in addition to any possible allergies they have to certain foods. Plan out your pet’s feast just as you would for your family and friends. Make sure you tell your guests not to randomly feed your animal! You can definitely sprinkle small amounts of turkey (no fatty skin), various flavorful fruits and veggies that aren’t harmful and pet treats to make your pets’ Thanksgiving feast a memorable one.

DISCLAIMER: This guide is generalized and should not be taken as a vet’s formal opinion. Pet owners should always keep an eye on their pets after giving them any food different from their normal diet. In case you notice any changes such as vomiting, diarrhea, pain, lethargy or any other abnormal behavior, call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline: 888-426-4435 immediately.

View a more detailed list of foods your dog cannot eat.