We know this Thanksgiving will look different for many families. As you prepare Thanksgiving dinner at home (or put out the takeout food from a local restaurant or catering company), your dog and cat may be eager to join the Thanksgiving feast. But don’t give in to the puppy eyes and begging without first knowing which foods are safe for them to eat.
Many foods that we enjoy at Thanksgiving can cause mild to severe problems for our furry, four-legged family members. As with treats, feed these special snacks in small amounts rather than heaping helpings. Here is a list of common Thanksgiving foods that are safe for pets (in moderation!), and a list of foods that should never be given to your furry pal.
SAFE for pets in small amounts:
- Turkey meat (no skin, no bones)
- Uncooked green beans (no seasoning)
- Carrot pieces (no seasoning)
- Plain cooked potatoes and sweet potatoes (no butter or seasoning)
- Baked bread and rolls (no butter)
- Small apple slices (no seeds, no cores)
- 100% canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling, check ingredients to ensure there are no added spices and no xylitol)
- Meat Bones
Chewing and swallowing any meat bones can cause gastrointestinal upset, small intestinal obstructions, and/or damage to the teeth and gums.
- Turkey Skin and Gravy
These are high in fat and can cause gastrointestinal upset and/or pancreatitis.
- Salads or Stuffing with Onions, Scallions, or Garlic
Garlic and onions, as well as leeks and chives, can be toxic to pets. These foods cause stomach upset and destruction of the red blood cells in the body if a toxic amount is eaten.
- Ham and Sausage
Pork products are higher in fat than poultry and have an increased risk of causing gastrointestinal upset and/or pancreatitis.
- Butter and Oil
Eating the increased fat contents in butter or oil can cause gastrointestinal upset and/or pancreatitis. Leave this off the bread or potatoes if they are shared!
- Corn on the Cob
Although corn is non-toxic, corn on the cob is very hazardous. Pieces of cob can cause a gastrointestinal obstruction which requires an endoscopy or even surgery to remove the cob from the stomach and intestines.
Nuts are too fatty (and in most cases, too salty) for pets. They are high in calories and can cause pancreatitis. Additionally, macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs and can cause them to vomit, experience tremors, become lethargic, weak, or unable to walk. And although rare, cats who eat almonds can develop cyanide poisoning.
Common fall spices used in baked goods, foods, and beverages can be dangerous to our pets. Nutmeg can cause hallucinations, disorientation, increased heart rate, high blood pressure, abdominal pain, and seizures. Cloves and allspice can cause vomiting, numbness, and walking “drunk”, as well as liver toxicity in cats. In large amounts, cinnamon can cause vomiting, diarrhea, low blood sugar, irritation to your pet’s mouth, changes in heart rate, and liver issues.
- Pumpkin Pie Filling
- Chocolate Desserts
Chocolate (especially dark chocolate and Baker’s chocolate) can cause gastrointestinal upset, as well as cardiac and neurological side effects in dogs. This toxicity is based on the type of chocolate, the amount of chocolate ingested, and your dog’s weight.
- Grapes, Raisins, and Currants
Some breads, salads, and desserts contain grapes, raisins, or currants that can cause kidney damage when eaten.
- Yeast Dough
Unbaked yeast dough used for homemade bread and rolls can cause stomach bloating and alcohol poisoning in pets. The alcohol is produced from fermenting yeast as the dough rises in your pet’s warm stomach. This can cause a bloated abdomen, vomiting, unproductive retching, and drunkenness. In severe cases, your pet’s stomach can twist which requires emergency surgery.
Alcohol is always toxic to pets. Even a small amount of alcohol can be very dangerous as alcohol causes drops in blood sugar, blood pressure, and body temperature. Alcohol poisoning can also lead to seizures and respiratory failure.
If your pet eats any of these hazardous foods this Thanksgiving, call your family veterinarian, your local animal emergency hospital, or ASPCA Poison Control Center if your pet ate a toxic food. The ASPCA veterinarian will need to know the type and amount of toxin that was eaten, the approximate weight of your pet, and the approximate time the food was eaten.
We hope you and your pets have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving holiday!
Written by Nikki Scherrer, DVM.