Can I share Thanksgiving food with my pets?

November 13, 2023
Can I share Thanksgiving food with my pets?

Thanksgiving is the holiday of great food and lots of it. As you’re cleaning up the dishes in a festive mood, it can be tempting to share the holiday bounty with your pets. But these rich foods are not healthy – and can even be very dangerous for pets.

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While a few bites of turkey meat may not upset a pet’s stomach, and plain, canned pumpkin can even be good for dogs, many other Thanksgiving dishes should be avoided. The most common issue is that the food is too fatty and rich for pets, leading to upset stomachs, vomiting, diarrhea, and even pancreatitis. Some foods, however, are toxic, and may require emergency vet visits if ingested.

Be especially careful to not let your dog or cat eat these Thanksgiving foods:

  • Turkey bones and skin: Do not give pets bones to gnaw on. Ingested turkey bones can cause indigestion or blocked bowels, or they can splinter and cause internal damage to the stomach or intestines. Additionally, the skin (usually covered in oil and spices) is too fatty for pets to eat safely.
  • Stuffing: Stuffing (or dressing) often has garlic, scallions, leeks and/or onions in it. These ingredients are toxic to all dogs and cats and should always be avoided.
  • Dishes with grapes or raisins: Many holiday salads, sides and desserts contain grapes or raisins, both of which can cause kidney failure in dogs. Never feed a pet raisins or grapes.
  • Potato dishes: While plain, cooked potatoes (sweet or white) can be good for pets, prepared potato dishes often are not, as they usually contain milk and butter (which upsets many pets’ stomachs) and garlic or onions (which can be toxic to pets). Pets may also get gastrointestinal issues from the marshmallows, sugar and liquor found in sweet potato dishes.
  • Chocolate desserts: Chocolate can be toxic – even fatal – to dogs. Learn more about the dangers of chocolate to dogs here.

If you know or suspect your dog has eaten a potentially toxic food, please call a veterinarian immediately. The Animal Clinic of Woodruff can be reached at 864.576.9800, or after hours, reach Spartanburg area emergency vet contacts here. If a veterinarian or clinic is unreachable, call the Pet Poison Helpline at 855.764.7661 or the ASPCA Poison Control at 888.426.4435 (there are fees for either call). If your pet has eaten a large amount of a dangerous food, you’ll want to act very quickly for the best outcomes.

If you do want to give your pets a special holiday meal, consider making a Thanksgiving plate just for them. A healthy plate might include: a few pieces of unseasoned white-meat turkey; plain, roasted sweet or white potatoes; steamed green beans or peas; and some unsweetened, canned pumpkin.

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