Top Dog Tips - Sharing Thanksgiving Dinner with DogsToday is the day! Thanksgiving is finally here. Keep the Thanksgiving safety tips that I shared last week in mind, and understand the dangers that your pet faces when your home is full of family, friends and food. A lot of pet parents want to enjoy their holiday meal by sharing it with their canine companion, but most of the Thanksgiving foods we eat are not healthy for our dogs.

It’s alright to give your Fido a little taste of the spread, but it shouldn’t make up his entire diet for the day. Any significant change to a dog’s diet could throw his digestive tract out of whack, so you don’t want to solely feed him Thanksgiving foods unless that’s what his diet always consists of.

A few snacks here and there throughout the day won’t hurt, as long as you make sure to increase your dog’s exercise ratio to burn the extra calories.

Sharing Thanksgiving Dinner with Dogs

Dog eating thanksgiving turkey dinner

Let’s start with the good…

We all know that the best part of Thanksgiving dinner is the juicy, delicious turkey. Your dog can enjoy turkey too, but not the same way that we do. First of all, turkey bones can be very dangerous if your dog ingests them. They can splinter and break apart, which could cause his throat to get scratched and they could also puncture the lining of his stomach.

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That’s not the only danger with turkey. Certain herbs and spices are toxic to dogs, so be sure to only feed him unseasoned turkey. Turkey skin contains a lot of fat as well, so you better leave that for your human guests. Stick with white meat too. Dark meat is much richer and has a higher fat content.

If you’re using pumpkin in your holiday cooking, you can certainly share some with your furry friend. Pure pumpkin is a great treat for dogs and it’s super healthy. It aids in digestive tract health. If you’re using canned pumpkin or homemade pumpkin puree, feed it to your pup before adding it to another dish or mixing it with any sweeteners.

Sharing Thanksgiving dinner with dogs doesn’t have to be stressful. There are plenty of treats you can give him to enjoy. Cranberries are another great example of such a treat, as they are full of antioxidants and are great for urinary tract health. Certain vegetables like green beans, carrots, and asparagus are full of nutrients as well, especially if they are served raw. You can cook them, just be sure not to add any salt or flavoring agents as those can dehydrate your pet.

Potatoes can be shared with your pooch as well, but make sure you know what is in them. If mashed potatoes have been mixed with butter or dairy products they’ll be higher in fat and could upset your dog’s belly. Save a few potatoes off to the side before you mash them and you’ll be all set. Sharing sweet potatoes with Fido is an even healthier alternative to white potatoes.

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bad food for dogs on thanksgiving

What about the bad?

I mentioned the less healthy versions of some of the foods above, but some Thanksgiving dishes can be harmful to your pet no matter how they are prepared. Nothing would ruin a Thanksgiving gathering faster than a trip to the emergency veterinary clinic, so be sure to steer clear of any foods that may be harmful to your dog.

Although white, skinless turkey meat is a great snack for your pet, undercooked turkey meat could make your dog very ill. Just like people, salmonella is a disease that dogs can contract from eating undercooked meat. Remember to keep your dog away from any food that has been seasoned with ingredients like sage, onion or garlic as well. Too much of these herbs and spices could be fatal to your dog.

The ingredients in gravy and stuffing can include a cornucopia of toxic foods for dogs. Common ingredients including mushrooms, onions, sage, pepper, chives, garlic, scallions and leeks can all have a negative effect on your dog’s health. It’s best to keep your dog away from stuffing and gravies all together. They are also high in fat.

Although cranberries are great for your pet, cranberry sauce is very high in sugar. Whether it is homemade or from a can, don’t feed your dog cranberry sauce. Bread dough and raw baking batters should also not be given to dogs. The yeast in these foods will expand after your dog ingests them, causing vomiting, bloating and a lot of discomfort.

Fruit salads can be dangerous if they contain grapes or raisins. A lot of Thanksgiving goodies contain nuts, which are usually fine for dogs, but walnuts and macadamia nuts can cause toxicosis resulting in neurological damage. Alcohol is never okay to give to your pet, but on Thanksgiving you’ll have many people in your home and someone may be apt to set their alcoholic drink down where your dog can reach it.

Sharing Thanksgiving Dinner with Dogs
Photo: Kristin “Shoe” Shoemaker

Make sure all your guests understand that your dog is not allowed to be given any food, unless the person asks you first. Tell people that they need to be mindful of your dog and they’ll need to put their plates and glasses up out of reach of your Fido. Remember that just because a food is okay to feed your dog, it doesn’t mean that he should be eating it in large quantities.

A few Thanksgiving snacks won’t hurt him, but sharing Thanksgiving dinner with dogs should be done sparingly. Keep your dog’s treats in their simplest form. Lean meats and some fruits and vegetables are the only thing that your dog should be given on Thanksgiving or any other day.

What are your thoughts on the matter?