If you have big plans for the holidays, be sure to put Thanksgiving pet safety at the top of your list! Our animal hospital in Holmdel regularly sees an influx of pets with tummy aches and other illnesses related to binging on food they really shouldn’t be having around this time of year. Whether you’re looking to share a few bites with your companion or have a pet with Houdini-like food-stealing skills, make sure you’re serving and storing all your Thanksgiving foods responsibly.
Shareable Thanksgiving Foods
- Turkey – Cooked, plain turkey meat without the skin or bones is perfectly safe for your dog or cat to enjoy. Don’t serve your pet any turkey meat with stuffing, which is usually made with onions and garlic. If you can, cook your stuffing and turkey separately just in case.
- Mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes – Plain potatoes are also safe for dogs and cats. This means no butter, chives, onions, or other seasonings. Candied yams aren’t the healthiest option but a bite or two should be harmless.
- Bread/Rolls – A piece of bread here and there is safe to give, as long as it doesn’t contain raisins or large quantities of butter.
- Carrots – Crunchy carrots are hard for cats to digest, but cooked plain carrots cut into bite-sized pieces are acceptable to share with your pet.
- Green beans – Fresh green beans that are cooked and cut into small pieces are safe as long as they aren’t mixed with butter, garlic, and/or onions.
- Cheese – A few small bites of cheese are safe, but don’t over-indulge—being a dairy product, it could upset your pet’s stomach.
- Broccoli – While we wouldn’t expect your pet to have a taste for broccoli, there’s always a first time for everything! If your pet likes broccoli, make sure it’s plain and cooked well.
- Brussels sprouts – Brussels sprouts are another food we wouldn’t expect pets to like, but if you do decide to give them a taste, make sure it’s cut into small pieces and cooked thoroughly.
- Mushrooms – You can share a few plain, cooked store-bought mushrooms with your pet if you want, but don’t let them snack on any wild mushrooms that may be growing in your yard. Wild mushrooms can be just as harmful to pets as they are to us!
- Cranberry sauce – If your pet sneaks a taste of cranberry sauce, don’t panic! While it contains a lot of sugar, ingesting a small amount won’t hurt.
- Corn – You can let your pet have cooked corn kernels, but don’t give them corn on the cob. If they swallow the cob, it could block their airway or even get lodged in their intestine.
- Apples – A bite of fresh apple is A-OK for your pet, as long as you don’t give them the core, which can be a choking hazard. And be sure to cut the apple into small pieces!
- Pumpkin – Plain, 100% pumpkin from the store is safe for dogs and cats in moderation, but avoid giving them pumpkin pie filling.
Thanksgiving Foods that Should Be Off-Limits
- Bones – If wild cats and dogs can chew on meat bones, why are they dangerous for pets? First, bones are easy to choke on. Second, they can splinter into sharp pieces while being chewed and injure your pet’s mouth, throat, and/or stomach. Third, they can obstruct the gastrointestinal tract, which can be life-threatening. Throw the bones away!
- Raw or undercooked meat – If you want to protect your pet from E. coli and Salmonella, don’t give them raw or undercooked meat. It’s not suitable for human consumption, and shouldn’t be suitable for pets, either.
- Ham – Ham is full of fat and sodium, making it rather unhealthy for pets. A few bites won’t cause any problems, but it’s best to opt for something healthier.
- Raw eggs – A little bit of cooked egg won’t harm your pet, but try to keep them away from raw eggs, which can affect the health of their skin and coat.
- Garlic, onions, shallots, chives, and scallions – Pets should never eat anything with garlic, onions, scallions, chives, or shallots, which all belong to the Allium family. Garlic contains thiosulfates, and onions (and onion powder) contain N-propyl disulfide, which can attack the red blood cells.
- Stuffing – Turkey stuffing often contains some of the ingredients listed immediately above—especially onions and garlic. Due to the high toxicity of these vegetables, they’re dangerous even when cooked and mixed in with other ingredients.
- Grapes and raisins – Grapes and raisins are NEVER safe for dogs and cats to eat. These fruits contain toxic compounds that can cause kidney failure.
- Chocolate – You should never, ever let your pet eat chocolate. Dogs and cats cannot metabolize the caffeine and theobromine contained in chocolate, and the darker the chocolate, the more poisonous it is. It can cause your pet to develop an irregular heartbeat, muscle tremors, and possibly seizures.
- Pumpkin pie filling – Don’t confuse plain canned pumpkin with pumpkin pie filling, which is full of sugar, eggs, nutmeg, and sweetened condensed milk.
- Yeast dough – Swallowing yeast dough can give your pet painful bloat, due to the gases released by the expanding yeast. What’s more, it contains ethanol, which can cause your pet to act drunk.
- Macadamia nuts – This decadent snack can cause a lot of trouble for your pet if they eat enough. Symptoms that might occur up to 12 hours after consumption include weakness, depression, vomiting, and muscle tremors.
- Milk/dairy – Pets and lactose simply don’t mix well. Because dogs and cats can’t digest it as effectively, it’s more likely to give them diarrhea.
- Sugar-free baked goods – If it’s sugar-free, there’s a chance it contains a sweetener called xylitol. Xylitol is especially dangerous because it can lower your pet’s blood sugar to the point that they develop hypoglycemia. This can eventually lead to liver failure, which can be fatal.
- Alcohol – This should be a no-brainer, but it’s all too easy to set a drink on the floor and forget about it. Alcohol of any kind can cause illness and drunkenness in pets—whether it’s wine, beer, whiskey, or a fancy cocktail, let your guests know that they need to set their drinks out of your pet’s reach!