Stuffing, cranberry sauce, turkey – as Thanksgiving Day approaches, we’re all looking forward to a traditional feast surrounded by loved ones – furry, four-legged friends included! However, Thanksgiving is also a time where vets see an uptick in emergency visits due to pets ingesting unsafe human foods over the holiday, leaving owners feeling anything but thankful.
Although it can be hard to resist those puppy eyes begging for a seat at the holiday table, responsible pet owners should be aware of the harm certain holiday food favorites can cause to their pets.
From gourds and green beans, to stuffing and sweets, we’ve compiled a list of pet-friendly Turkey Day treats so you can go into the holiday season feeling confident about what your pets can, and can’t, gobble up this holiday season.
Carrots and Green Beans
Raw vegetables like carrots and green beans are safe for pets, so long as they’re cut up into small pieces so they won’t choke. Just be sure to sneak them a bite before the veggies get seasoned or added to casseroles, as those additives can be harmful to any pet’s digestive system.
When left in their natural state, sweet potatoes can add a healthy dose of antioxidants, vitamin A, and fiber to your pet’s diet. Just be sure to treat them to the pre-seasoned potatoes, sans herbs, marshmallows, or pie crust!
Treat, With Caution
Ah, the main event! Dogs and cats alike are fans of this Thanksgiving Day treat, and, so long as you’re sticking to small, unseasoned bites, all of your pets should be in the clear to enjoy this treat, guilt-free. Just be sure it’s boneless, skinless, and well-cooked, as raw or undercooked turkey can contain salmonella, and turkey skin is packed with hard-to-digest fats that can lead to pancreatitis.
And, while it may seem tempting to treat your pup to leftover carcass bones, you’re better off tossing them right in the trash. If ingested, they can cause choking and serious harm to their digestive tract.
Canned, raw pumpkin (not sweetened filling or the pie itself!) is a fiber-rich treat that vets often recommend as a remedy to help dogs with constipation. But if your pup is pretty regular, too much pumpkin can cause diarrhea, so you may want to stick to smaller portions or avoid it all together if you’re not feeling up for a post-dinner walk!
Don’t be surprised if you see cranberries listed as an ingredient in some dog food recipes — they’re chock-full of vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting nutrients and antioxidants. Your dog can enjoy a few cranberries raw, cooked or dried, but be sure to avoid treating them to cranberry sauce, which is packed with sugar and additives that can be harmful.
Stuffing is packed with seasonings, onions, garlic, and butter – all ingredients that can be toxic for pets and cause life-threatening anemia. Not to mention stuffing’s core ingredient, bread, can seriously upset your dog’s stomach and cause long-term damage, which brings us to our next item to keep far away from fido…
Yeast and dough
While an occasional bite of bread won’t do much harm to your pup, ingesting actual yeast from homemade dough can turn disastrous. When a dog eats yeast, it continues to rise and expand inside their stomach, which can lead to potential deadly cases of bloat. Additionally, as yeast ferments, it also produces ethanol, which can be absorbed into a dog’s bloodstream and result in alcohol poisoning.
A bite or two of pumpkin pie likely won’t cause much harm, but other common Thanksgiving Day desserts and treats may. It goes without saying that any chocolatey treat should remain off-limits, but be sure to keep paws off the store-bought desserts, too, which often contain hidden ingredients like Xylitol, an added sweetener that’s toxic for pets, you’re better off keeping your dog away from the dessert table and treating them to a pet-friendly treat (check out our list of top recommendations here!).
As we head into the holiday season, it’s important to keep in mind that, while a treat here and there won’t hurt, a sudden switch from your pets’ regular diet of kibble or fancy feast to a full Thanksgiving Day meal can cause more than just a painful tummy ache – it can wreak havoc on their digestive system and cause long-term, and even life-threatening, damage.
To keep your pet happy and healthy in the coming weeks, stick to treating them to small bites throughout the day, and be sure to wrap up leftovers and leave bags of trash out of your pets’ reach during cleanup to avoid them ingesting something harmful.
And finally, if you’re worried about something your pet might have ingested, contact your veterinarian (be sure to ask for their holiday hours and on-call staff in advance!) or call the Pet Poison Hotline or ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.