Thanksgiving Food Your Pet Can and Can’t Eat

As you’re preparing your Thanksgiving feast, you may wonder what treats you can safely share with your pet. As the number of accidental poisonings soar over Thanksgiving and the holidays, with pets getting into delicacies intended for their humans, it’s important to know which tasty treats are safe and which to steer clear of.

Turkey breast is safe (but skin and bones are not).

A small amount of unseasoned white meat such as turkey breast is a great treat for both dogs and cats, but ensure you steer clear of turkey skin and bones. Turkey skin is very high in fat, which can cause life-threatening pancreatitis in both dogs and cats. Any kind of meat or fish bones are a no-no, since they pose a choking hazard, or can splinter if ingested, causing a life-threatening intestinal puncture.

Smoked salmon is safe.

If you’re having salmon as a starter, it’s safe to give your pet a little bit. Cats in particular will likely love it!

Gravy isn’t safe.

Most gravy contains onion and/or garlic, which is toxic for both dogs and cats, even in small amounts. In fact, anything in the onion or garlic family (including scallions, leeks and other similar vegetables) is a no-go.

However, if you’ve made the gravy yourself and are 100% sure it doesn’t contain onion or garlic, and not too much salt, you can give them a little taste! Try topping your pet’s usual food with a small amount.

Plain pumpkin is safe (but pumpkin pie is not).

A little plain pumpkin makes for a nice healthy pet snack, as it’s full of nutrients and fiber. However, before giving it to your pet, make sure it doesn’t have any spices or seasoning, it’s been cooked and chopped into small pieces. You should also remove the skin, leaves, stem and seeds, as they can be a choking hazard. On the other hand, pumpkin pie isn’t safe – it’s too sweet!

Most vegetables are safe.

Most vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, green beans, and sweet potato, make a good treat for your pet, as long as they don’t have too much butter, salt or other seasonings.

Steer clear of mashed potato (as it usually has too much milk/cream) and if you’re giving sweet potato, make sure it doesn’t have marshmallows on it (particularly once that contain the sugar substitute xylitol).

Cranberry sauce is not safe (but plain cranberries are ok).

Cranberry sauce and juice are both no-nos due to the high sugar content. However, in moderation, plain cranberries are ok for pets, although some may not like the tartness.

Just be very careful if you’re giving dried cranberries not to give any raisins or currents – these are often mixed in together in packs of dry fruit and are toxic for your pet!

If your pet manages to get hold of something they shouldn’t, it’s important to seek veterinary help immediately.

Stuffing is not usually safe.

A lot of stuffing contains onion or garlic, or sometimes raisins or currents – which, as mentioned, are toxic for pets, even in small quantities. If you’ve checked the packaging and are 100% sure your stuffing is free of any of these ingredients, you can give your pet a little bit; they’ll likely love the taste!

Bread dough is not safe.

If ingested, raw yeast dough will expand and create carbon dioxide in your pet’s stomach, causing life-threatening bloat. When cooking, keep raw dough well out of the reach of any curious pets!

Desserts are not safe.

Most desserts are not safe to share with your pets, as they contain too much sugar, fat, and often the sugar substitute xylitol, which is toxic for both cats and dogs.

If you’d like to treat your pet to a little dessert, try a small amount of plain, unsweetened yoghurt or a small spoonful of frozen peanut butter.

Cheese is safe.

If you’re having a cheese platter, it’s safe to give your pet a very small amount of cheese. Make sure not to give them too much though, as the high fat content could cause pancreatitis, and it’s very easy to overdo things calorie-wise!

Most fruits are safe.

Most fruits are safe for your pet, with the exception of grapes, raisins and currents. Fruits make for a great, nutritious and low calorie treat for your pet; they work particularly well as training treats. Just ensure you remove any pits from stone fruits, as they’re a choking hazard, and don’t let them eat apple cores.

What to do if your pet eats something they shouldn’t

If your pet manages to get hold of something they shouldn’t, it’s important to seek veterinary help immediately. Try to keep hold of the packaging of whatever your pet ate, if possible, as it can be helpful to know exactly what ingredients and quantities your pet has consumed.

We’re available to Small Door members 24/7 over Thanksgiving via the app, and can provide advice on whether it’s safe to monitor your pet at home, or you should bring them to an emergency hospital.

The ASPCA also runs a pet poison hotline 24/7, staffed by pet toxicologists who can provide advice on any potential poisoning situation. Their service currently costs $75 per call, and they can be reached at (888) 426-4435.

Our medical experts

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