Tips for a Safe Thanksgiving for Your Dog and Cat

Dog laying down among fall color leaves
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Thanksgiving is the #1 day of the entire year for emergency vet visits. Here are a few tips to remember this Thanksgiving to ensure your pets have a happy and safe holiday.

Thanksgiving is a time for family, friends, and of course, lots and lots of food. While you’re looking forward to enjoying turkey, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie, it’s important to remember your furry friends’ needs too. Thanksgiving is the #1 day of the entire year for emergency vet visits. Here are a few tips to remember this Thanksgiving to ensure your pets have a happy and safe holiday.

Make a Plan for Your Pet Before Thanksgiving 

If you are hosting or attending Thanksgiving events, it’s a great idea to think of obstacles regarding your pets and prepare for anticipated scenarios. 

A few ideas for making your plan:

  • Take your dog for a walk, play fetch, or partake in other physical activities before Thanksgiving events to encourage a calmer, more relaxed dog
  • Feed your dog before Thanksgiving events, so they are full and less likely to seek out food scraps
  • Keep your pet in another room or their crate during peak times, such as when everyone is arriving or sitting down for dinner, to keep pets away from unsafe foods and kids who may not know how or aren’t old enough to be gentle to a dog. 
  • Don’t leave dogs in the backyard all night. It can get quite cold in certain regions in November, so leaving pets outside for extended periods is not recommended. 
  • Let your guests know in advance that you have pets so they can take necessary precautions, such as keeping their food out of reach, keeping the front door closed, etc.
  • Consider a calming aid such as CBD oil if you have a pet who is anxious around strangers.

Keep Pets Out of the Kitchen 

The kitchen can be hazardous, with all the hustle and bustle of preparing a Thanksgiving feast. Dogs can get under your feet and eat unsafe foods dropped on the floor or sneak something from the trash while nobody is looking. Cats can counter-surf while you are trying to cook and eat something unsafe or even step on hot surfaces. 

Don’t Feed Pets Table Scraps from the Thanksgiving Feast

We all know how tempting it is to share your food when a pup gives you those big, pleading eyes while you are eating – but resist the urge! Thanksgiving table scraps are often high in fat, sugar, and salt, which can be dangerous for pets. 

Here are a few Thanksgiving foods the ASPCA recommends avoiding giving to your dog or cat:

  • Turkey bones and skin: while plain, uncooked turkey can be an excellent protein choice, Thanksgiving turkey should be avoided. The cooked turkey bones can pose a threat of splintering and causing internal damage or even causing blockages if swallowed whole. The string that is used to tress the turkey can be swallowed and require surgical removal. Turkey skin is very high in fat and could stress the pancreas.
  • Cranberry sauce: while plain cranberries can be good for a dog, cranberry sauce can contain the sweetener xylitol, which is toxic to pets.
  • Alcohol: Giving alcohol to animals is never a good idea. Alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and even coma or death in severe cases.
  • Fatty or greasy foods such as gravy, bacon, butter, meat drippings, etc. are not toxic; however, they can cause vomiting, diarrhea, gas, abdominal pain, and in worse cases, pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) or other GI issues.
  • Chocolate or baked goods such as pie can pose health risks for pets – as little as 0.5 oz of certain chocolate can cause poisoning. Chocolate contains the toxin theobromine and caffeine, which can cause your dog’s heart to race too quickly.

Some safe Thanksgiving foods for dogs include:dogs-in-pumpkin-patch-turkey-raw-dog-food

  • Plain carrots or green beans
  • Cooked, plain sweet potato
  • Apples – no core or seeds
  • Plain or canned pumpkin (not pie filling)
  • Turkey’s gizzards – neck (uncooked), heart, liver

Remember to give these foods in moderation or stick to their regular raw dog food.


Following these simple tips can help ensure that your pets have a happy and safe holiday. 


Happy Thanksgiving!

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