Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and for those of us with four-legged family members, it's a chance for us to show just how much we love them. But as tempting as it may be to let your dog indulge in all the delicious Thanksgiving food, we need to make sure the festive treats we share get two paws up for safety. Some human food staples like onions, garlic, yeast, and chocolate are surprisingly toxic for dogs. In fact, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) asserts that they deal with an average of 103 chocolate-related poisoning incidents per day throughout the year.
It's better to be informed to avoid an unfortunate trip to the vet. When it comes to your dog's health, caution is key. Remember the basic rules of pet health and safety — keep your pup away from the kitchen while you're prepping and feed them a balanced diet. If you’re looking to prepare a Thanksgiving dinner for dogs, this is the guide for you. We'll explore some dog-safe Thanksgiving food options, those you should steer clear of, and the signs that something might be wrong.
8 Thanksgiving Food Dogs Can Eat
We've put together this list of some tasty Thanksgiving dog food options. Just remember, your dog’s Thanksgiving meal should be all about moderation, with no seasoning or butter. Too much of even the safest foods can lead to overindulgence and digestive issues. With that in mind, here are some examples of foods your pup can enjoy this year.
- Turkey. If you're wondering, "Can dogs eat Thanksgiving turkey?" the answer is a resounding yes! Turkey is the perfect centerpiece for your dog’s Thanksgiving meal. Boneless and skinless white meat turkey is not only a crowd-pleaser for humans but also a dog-safe Thanksgiving food option. As a lean protein source with a low-fat content, it's great for muscle development, repair, and overall health in canines. Just make sure it's free from any seasoning and is fully cooked.
- Sweet potatoes. When it comes to Thanksgiving food dogs can eat, sweet potatoes are a great option. They're an excellent source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Steamed or boiled sweet potatoes can boost digestive health and provide dogs with essential nutrients. However, while preparing your dog’s Thanksgiving food, be cautious about excluding dairy or spices before serving your pup.
- Carrots. Whether you're whipping up a full-blown Thanksgiving dinner for dogs or just some snacks, carrots are a nutritious addition. When steamed or served raw, they pack a punch of beta-carotene, promoting good vision and contributing to a robust immune system. They're a nutritious, crunchy treat that many dogs adore!
- Green beans. If you're looking for a low-calorie snack to add to your dog’s Thanksgiving meal, green beans are ideal. Packed with essential vitamins and minerals, these veggies can be a delightful, dog-safe Thanksgiving food when served plain — either cooked or raw.
- Pumpkin. Many pet parents overlook pumpkins when thinking of Thanksgiving food dogs can eat. Although it’s very beneficial for a dog's digestive system, you should still ensure you're offering plain pumpkin and not the sugary pie mix. It’s full of fiber and beta-carotene, in addition to being seasonal, festive, and healthy!
- Apples. In the vast menu of dog Thanksgiving food, apples are a crunchy, sweet treat that many dogs just can't resist. They're a rich source of vitamins A and C. However, always ensure the seeds and core are removed, as these parts can be harmful to dogs.
- Cranberries. Cranberries can sometimes be hit or miss — some pups love the strong flavors while others are less enthusiastic. So, if you're including them in your Thanksgiving dinner for dogs, it might be best to try a small portion first. If you happen to have a cranberry-loving pup, just make sure they're consumed in moderation. And remember to avoid commercial cranberry sauce because it usually contains too much sugar for dogs.
- Rice or plain pasta. If you're wondering what seasonings can dogs eat, it's best to keep things plain. While us humans may not get that excited about plain grains like rice or pasta, your pup will enjoy them. Both serve as an excellent source of energy and can be a good filler in your pup’s Thanksgiving meal. They're also perfect for soaking up all the yummy juices from the other Thanksgiving foods. Just make sure there are no other unhealthy additives mixed in.
Unsafe Thanksgiving Food for Dogs to Avoid
When preparing Thanksgiving dinner for dogs, certain traditional dishes and ingredients should be excluded. Fatty treats like turkey skin and gravy might seem like a fitting reward for your pet, but such foods can trigger digestive issues or even pancreatitis. Always lean towards caution when picking and choosing from the Thanksgiving spread. Below are some of the Thanksgiving foods that are toxic or harmful to dogs and the reasons they should be kept far from your furry friend's plate:
- Sugary desserts. Cookies, pies, chocolate, and many other sweets often contain xylitol — a sugar substitute that can lead to rapid insulin release in dogs, resulting in low blood sugar. Even a small amount of xylitol can be fatal to a dog.
- Mashed potatoes. While potatoes themselves aren't harmful, the butter, milk, and seasoning typically added to mashed potatoes can upset your pup's stomach. Dairy products, in particular, can cause diarrhea in lactose-intolerant dogs.
- Grapes and raisins. Both of these can cause rapid kidney failure in dogs. Even small amounts can be toxic, so it's crucial to ensure your pup doesn't ingest any, whether in a dish or as a stray snack.
- Onions and garlic. Found in many dishes, these alliums can destroy a dog's red blood cells, leading to anemia. This applies to all forms: powdered, raw, cooked, or dehydrated.
- Alcohol. Any foods cooked with alcohol or alcoholic beverages left within reach can be harmful to dogs. Alcohol can cause a range of issues from vomiting to coordination problems. It could even lead to a coma or death in severe cases.
- Bones. While it might seem natural to give dogs bones, cooked bones can splinter and cause blockages or tears in the digestive system.
- Nuts. Macadamia nuts specifically can cause weakness, tremors, and fever in dogs. While the exact substance causing the toxicity is still unknown, it's best to keep all nuts away from dogs to be safe.
- Stuffing. Can dogs eat stuffing? Unfortunately not, as stuffing often contains onions, garlic, and other spices that are harmful to dogs. Even without these ingredients, the rich nature of stuffing can be hard on a dog's digestive system.
Signs of Food-Related Issues in Dogs
Even if you've done your best to keep your pup away from toxic foods, sometimes accidents do happen. If you notice any of the following signs, consider it an emergency and talk to your vet right away:
- Lack of appetite
- Abdominal pain or tenderness
- Weakness or lethargy
- Swelling or hives
- Difficulty breathing
- Panting or vocalization
If your dog displays any unusual behavior after their Thanksgiving meal, don't wait. Immediate veterinary attention can make all the difference.
Get Your Pup Groomed Before the Holidays
As the holiday season kicks off, it's not just their diet you should be thinking about. A well-groomed dog is a happy dog. With all the festivities and potential photo ops to come, you'll want your pup looking and feeling their best. Give Barkbus a call and we'll make sure your dog shines this Thanksgiving. Schedule an appointment today and get your pet holiday-ready!