On November 28th this year, millions of Americans will be sitting around a dining table with a bountiful spread of delicious food in front of them ready to celebrate one of the most loved holidays in our culture. And under that table or sequestered in a back bedroom of those same houses will be millions of pets waiting to sneak as much of that festive food as they can stomach. That, my friends, is what we refer to as Thanksgiving. Want to know how to make your pet’s Thanksgiving enjoyable, too? Here’s how.

This holiday that focuses so much on being thankful for the loved ones in our lives should also include our pets. Most pet families would agree they love their pets as much as (if not more) than a lot of their extended families. And while knowing what uncle Gary can comfortably tolerate at the table is easier to understand than what Spot can. That doesn’t mean our pets should be required to sit out the holiday. So we’re going to cover what is and isn’t safe for our pets to consume on the big day. 

Turkey and Other Meats 

Turkey is the star of the holiday, but it is far from the only meat served. Ham, bacon, chicken and even fish can make appearances in the meal. With all meats, it is safest to steer clear entirely. Cooked meat is often seasoned heavily and may contain bones.

Bones should also be avoided. All cooked bones have a tendency to splinter and are highly dangerous for pets. Check all pieces of meat for bones before offering any to your pet who will gobble it up without a second thought. 

On the other hand, raw and undercooked meats can cause food poisoning and other tummy troubles in some pets.

Ham and bacon should be limited as they are high in fat.  The same is true for any trimmings. High-fat foods can cause uncomfortable bloat in pets and other digestive problems that may have you watching the football game from the vet’s office. 

Baked Goods

a pet's thanksgivingBaked goods are a strong supporting cast member at every table. Here are a few considerations. 

Xylitol is toxic to dogs. It is also a very common artificial sweetener used in baked goods and hides in several common pantry items. Be sure to check all pre-bought goods for the presence of xylitol, and if you cannot be sure, just play it safe and avoid it altogether.

Yeast dough can also cause both cats and dogs harm. If you are preparing homemade yeast dough, be sure to keep it away from pets, until baked. The yeast will eat sugars in their digestive tract and release gases. This can cause bloat and even alcohol poisoning in pets.

It’s important to limit sugar intake for pets. Sugary treats are not nearly as toxic as xylitol or yeast for pets, but they can cause long-lasting negative effects. The effects of sugar on our pets are very similar to us humans, with common concerns being: diabetes, obesity, tooth decay, and metabolic changes. 

Other Harmful Foods

Here is a quick list of some of the other foods that should not be on your pet’s Thanksgiving plate: 

  • Onions and/or garlic 
  • Chocolate
  • Raisins
  • Nutmeg 
  • Mushrooms

Your Pet’s Thanksgiving Meal: A Pet Safe Plate 

So what can our pets have on Thanksgiving? A lot actually. You can purchase pet-specific foods for your pet if you want to be safe. Grab a festive flavor of their favorite canned food or treats made especially for pets. 

If you want to serve them some human food on the big day, here are some things that may be safe; if you are sure they do not contain any of the problem ingredients. 

  • Turkey breast (shredded and unseasoned) 
  • Sweet potatoes (mashed and unseasoned) 
  • Carrots and/or green beans (unseasoned) 
  • Cranberries, apples, and pumpkin (watch out for nutmeg)

a pet's thanksgiving

It may seem overwhelming at first when trying to treat your pet in the fun of the holiday, but it doesn’t have to be. A little preparation can go a long way. 

Let’s paint the scene: You’re trying to remember what ingredients are in what while your pup is staring at you with those oversized eyes, and there have 7 pots cooking on a 4-burner stove. This isn’t practical. Have something prepared for them ahead of time so that you can grab it when you feel those adorable, puppy eyes on you!

Better yet, if you are going to let your pet partake in the holiday feasting, know what you are going to give them beforehand and share that information with guests to avoid an unintentional blunder. That way, you will be able to relax and enjoy the magic of Thanksgiving. At least until your cousin turns the conversation to politics.