Thanksgiving is a holiday most famous for the abundance of food and a lot of tasty dishes made for the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. It's no wonder that you will be greeted with sad and wanting eyes from your dog when you sit down for the meal. While some foods are fine for dogs, let's talk about what not to feed your dogs on Thanksgiving and most dangerous foods.
While a recent study found that Christmas and Easter are the most dangerous for dogs where they're at highest risk of poisoning, veterinarians also warm owners not to discount Thanksgiving. Vets see a large spike of poisoning in dogs during the holidays, and Thanksgiving is one of those days. This is because different types of dangerous foods are freely available for your dog to steal off the table, and chocolate is the primary suspect.
Before we dig deeper into the traditional Thanksgiving food and how it might affect your dog, you should consider making some tasty Thanksgiving dog treats just for your pooch so you're not tempted to give your dogs table scraps. For full homemade dog food meals for Thanksgiving, there are plenty of recipes online and we've published a lot here too.
That said, if you still want to give your pup a taste of the real Thanksgiving dinner, some foods are totally fine for your dog (like turkey meat or apple cider), while at the same time there are many dangerous foods that you need to keep away from pets. Knowing what not to feed your dogs on Thanksgiving will let everyone enjoy the party in peace.
What Not to Feed Your Dogs on Thanksgiving
The first item on our menu is the main course and the center of attention at every Thanksgiving – turkey. You might feel like giving turkey to your dog should be fine, and if you do it carefully it can be, because plain turkey meat itself is good for dogs. It's no different than giving your pup any other type of meat without additives.
However, you need to avoid feeding your dog to turkey skin since it is almost always seasoned and that can be hazardous for your dog. Keeping your turkey basted in things like garlic, onion and sage can make it extremely toxic for your dog (as well as your cat, if you have a feline friend for your pooch).
Another thing to look out for is salmonella, which is a real threat if you feed your dog some undercooked meat, or raw meat. Beware of cooked bones as well, since they can break in your dog’s throat or mouth and choke him to death. Raw bones are fine for your dog, but cooked bones are dangerous, always remember that.
You can feed your dog with some small pieces of white turkey meat, since their stomach will not have issues with lean meat. However, avoid giving them drumsticks or any other red meat from your holiday turkey since fat foods can cause pancreatitis in dogs.
Where there is turkey, there are also gravy and stuffing. Both of these things can cause harm to your dogs and you should avoid feeding him with them.
Most of the ingredients that go into stuffing and gravy – like onions, sage, garlic, mushrooms, leeks, peppers, chives and scallions – are toxic for dogs. For example, onions contain thiosulphate, which can cause damage to red blood cells. Sage can upset your dog’s stomach and could even harm his nervous system.
3. Green Bean Casserole
Green beans are a very healthy vegetable for your dog and you should definitely include it in his Thanksgiving feast. They are a good source of vitamins and fibers while also being really low in calories, which makes them a perfect thing to give to your pooch.
However, if you made a green beans casserole, don’t give that to your dog! It has probably been seasoned or even includes mushroom soup or onions, which are not good for your dog.
4. Cranberry Sauce
Even though cranberries themselves are not harmful to your dog, and are even a very common ingredient in many dog foods, they can be bad for your pooch when fed in cranberry sauce. Cranberries are good because they can help your dog with urinary tract infections and are full of numerous healthy vitamins.
However, cranberry sauce is not healthy, because it is full of sugar or fructose from corn syrup. Just check the label and you will see for yourself. Even the homemade sauce is usually full of sugar, and it might even include other harmful ingredients, like nuts or raisins.
5. Bread or Cookie Dough
Eating raw bread or cookie dough (or cakes) is not good for humans either, but for dogs it can be especially harmful. This is one of the most important foods to note on this list of what not to feed your dogs on Thanksgiving. They often include raw eggs, which is a shortstop on the way to getting salmonella.
Also, if your pooch eats the dough, he will most likely have serious abdominal bloating that can be very painful and lead to vomiting. The reason lies in the well-known feature of any dough type that rises when it gets warm. If that happens inside the stomach of your dog, it's going to result in a trip to the vet.
6. Fruit Salads
You can feed your dog certain fruits, but there are some fruits that should be avoided. So, if you made the fruit salad yourself and you know that you didn’t include grapes or raisins, for example, and that there's no added sugar or syrup, then it might be fine to give fruit salad to your dog (in moderation). Mind the amount of calories and natural sugars, however.
Most fruit salads contain grapes, and that's the primary danger for dogs. Grapes can cause pretty serious kidney problems for dogs, which can sometimes even be fatal. Also, avoid the nuts as well if you make the fruit salad that you wish to share with your dog, especially if you are not sure which nuts are fine for dogs and which are not.
There are certain nuts that are fine for your dog if you give them to him in moderate amounts. Otherwise, since they contain a lot of fats, feeding your dog any nut in excessive amounts can cause problems. However, some nuts do make the list of what not to feed your dogs on Thanksgiving because they are especially toxic to pets.
On the other hand, walnuts and macadamia nuts are definitely not fine. Macadamia nuts can cause lethargy, vomiting and other neurological symptoms, while walnuts can cause gastric issues and might even cause seizures if they contain mycotoxins.
RELATED: Foods Dogs Should Not Eat
8. Pumpkin Pie, Sweet Potato Pie
Pumpkin pie is another example of a food that is generally good for your dog, but in processed form should definitely be avoided. For example, feeding your dog raw pumpkin can help him calm down his unsettled digestive system. Pumpkin seeds are also good for dogs for many reasons.
Pumpkin pie is a different story, since it usually includes nutmeg and cinnamon. Nutmeg contains myristicin, a toxin which can cause seizures and problems with the dog’s central nervous system in large amounts. Also, cinnamon can cause vomiting, low blood sugar, liver disease or diarrhea if ingested in large amounts. It can even be fatal in some cases.
The same thing goes for sweet potato pie, for example. Even though sweet potatoes are perfectly fine for your dog, in combination with cinnamon or nutmeg they can cause all kinds of issues.
Apples, without the seeds, are a great and tasty treat for dogs and you should encourage your dog to eat apples even if he doesn’t really care for them. They are healthy, they have many vitamins and a lot of fiber, which can help your dog’s digestive system work properly.
Applesauce, however, can be full of sugar (just like cranberry sauce). If that is the case, you should not give it to your dog. In some very small amounts it can be fine, of course, but avoid giving a lot of it to him. You could make the unsweetened version if you really want to give your dog a nice treat for Thanksgiving.
I know this should be pretty obvious, but it can’t hurt to mention it when discussing what not to feed your dogs on Thanksgiving. Alcohol is one of the most dangerous substances you can give to your dog.
The effect of alcohol on people, especially too much alcohol, is not a secret. However, it will take a lot less for your dog to feel the same negative effects. Alcohol can cause vomiting and some pretty serious neurological issues, and can even be fatal to dogs. Don’t kid around with giving alcohol to your dog as a joke, not even beer (unless it's dog beer).
Every pet owner probably knows that chocolate is bad for dogs, so it's probably no surprise that it is on the list of what not to feed your dogs on Thanksgiving. This is especially true for dark chocolate, as it has caffeine and theobromine, which are things that dogs can’t break down like humans.
Chocolate ingestion is one of the leading causes of food poisoning for dogs and no matter how many times it is said that chocolate is bad for dogs, it can never hurt to say it again, obviously. Chocolate can cause diarrhea, seizures, and can even be fatal in some extreme cases, so keep your pooch as far away from it as you can.
Stay on the Safe Side
Making sure that your dog doesn’t eat anything harmful might not be so easy on Thanksgiving with so many people around. That is why you should tell your guests, especially younger ones, what not to feed your dogs on Thanksgiving. Explain to them that it can be dangerous for your dog in order to make them understand it and listen to you.
You also need to know all the ingredients in the foods that you give to your dog to eat. If you feed them with human food that you know is safe, you should still keep the amount of that food low and safe.