As you prepare for your lavish Thanksgiving feast in the upcoming weeks, you’ll be heading to the grocery store for food shopping. A turkey is a no-brainer, and perhaps a yummy ham, green beans and mashed potatoes fill your cart. While we all like to think we are making “just enough,” it’s easy for families to make more food than they need. Leftovers are delicious, take little time to heat up and have all your favorite ingredients.
Why not share the food wealth and put together a scrumptious leftover holiday meal for your pets? They’ll love your graciousness and are not as picky as your three-year-old! Follow our guide to find out which foods are okay for your dog to consume and which to avoid. Then make the perfect plate for your pooch during or after the festivities.
Foods to Share With Your Pet
When your dog’s sniffing nose comes rushing to your lap midway through your Thanksgiving feast, it’s hard not to give in and slip your pet a scrap or two. While you may think a small bite is harmless, it’s important to recognize that some foods can be harmful to your pet’s health. Below, we list the foods that are safe in small quantities and the foods to avoid. Keep in mind that all of these ingredients should contain limited seasonings and butter/fat.
Note: These foods are a general guideline. Limit food intake to small or regular portion size.
Green beans (sans onions)
Green beans are a Thanksgiving classic to some families, but most of the time are served in a creamy, mixed casserole. Feed your pup these veggies raw, before you add in seasoning and cream. Green beans are high in fiber and vitamins C and K, which help your pet stay healthy and keep them full longer.
Plain baked sweet potatoes
While sweet potatoes are often served with marshmallows or in a sweet potato pie, this fall staple is great for pups when served alone. Sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamins A and C, potassium, fiber and carotene. Give your pet raw or dried pieces of sweet potato and avoid the canned mix.
Carrots are high in beta-carotene, fiber and lots of vitamins. Feed your dog raw carrots or cook them unseasoned for a yummy treat. Carrots contain a high percentage of antioxidants as well.
For a sweet treat that’s safe for your pup, consider sliced apples. They contain immune boosting antioxidants and other key nutrients such as vitamin A, Vitamin C and dietary fiber. They can also help keep your pet’s teeth clean!
Pumpkins are great for dogs if they are raw or cooked, and pumpkin puree is okay in small quantities as long as it’s low in sugar. Pumpkins are full of fiber and make for great homemade dog treats.
Cranberry sauce is a sweet treat for your pet in small portions. As long as the sugar content is low and the sauce does not contain grapes or raisins, it should be a delicious snack.
The main dish of the feast, the Thanksgiving turkey, is what your pet is salivating for. Cooked turkey is safe for dogs, but it needs to be plain/sans-seasoning. Turkey is high in protein and is a highly digestible protein for dogs.
If you are cooking chicken as an alternative meat for Thanksgiving, feel free to give your pup a few bites. Unseasoned chicken provides protein and omega-6 fatty acids, which help sustain healthy skin and shiny coats. It also contains a plethora of essential amino acids and glucosamine, which helps promote bone health.
Cooking a delicious macaroni and cheese dish? Give your dog a sneak preview by feeding them a spoonful or two. While dairy isn’t great for dogs, a few bites should be okay. They’ll thank you with a wagging tail and you’ll know your dish is approved!
Bread and rolls will be all over the kitchen as they are a Thanksgiving staple. Although there is limited nutritional benefit to feeding your pet bread, they will appreciate a warm treat. Feed them a half of a roll or one-third, depending on your pet’s size. Just make sure the bread does not contain butter or other spreads.
Just like most other foods, mashed potatoes are safe for dogs without seasonings. Potatoes are rich in vitamin B6, vitamin C, iron and magnesium. These vitamins help support your pet’s immune system, nervous system and nutrient absorption.
Foods to Avoid
Now that you have an idea of foods to share with your furry ones, we’ll give you the breakdown of absolute no-no foods for your pet. These foods should be kept high on counters unreachable by canines. If your pet ingests any of these foods, it’s best to immediately take them to the vet to get treated.
Although some pets can handle onions in small portions, large quantities of onions or other alliums (e.g., leeks, scallions, garlic) can lead to anemia. Low red blood cell count can turn into organ damage, organ failure or even death. Avoid onions, alliums and feeding your pet any stuffing.
Fungi are great sources of nutrition for humans, but they can be life-threatening for your dog. Mushrooms may cause vomiting, seizures, coma or possible death. Avoid feeding your pet anything that may contain mushrooms such as a casserole or stuffing.
Grapes and raisins have been found to cause kidney failure in dogs. Some pets can eat large amounts with no effects while others can have fatal consequences. It’s best to avoid these if you don’t know how sensitive your pet is to grapes and raisins.
Cooked bones from both the turkey and/or chicken can be incredibly unsafe for pets. They can splinter or get lodged in the throat, which can lead to surgery or death. Raw bones are also risky as they may contain bacteria that can cause digestive distress. While there may be benefits to chewing bones, leave it to the experts and purchase a rawhide bone for your pup instead.
While a little chunk of turkey skin may seem okay, it can actually cause a life-threatening inflammation in the pancreas. Known as pancreatitis, this inflammation is caused when pets consume high-fat foods and the pancreas is forced to work too hard and release a large amount of enzymes, which causes the organ to malfunction. Side effects of pancreatitis include severe abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea and depression.
Although humans like to load up their Thanksgiving feasts with sodium, this does not translate well for dogs’ tummies. Salt can increase thirst and urination, which leads to dehydration. When ingested in large quantities it can also cause vomiting, nausea and diarrhea.
This spice, which is most commonly used in pumpkin pie and sweet potatoes, can cause seizures and central nervous system problems. In extreme cases, it can be fatal to your furry friend.
While dessert may be your favorite part of Thanksgiving, you shouldn’t share with Fido. An ingredient in chocolate known as theobromine, which is similar to caffeine, is extremely toxic for cats and dogs. Side effects include vomiting, diarrhea, seizures and death.
Xylitol is a sugar substitute that can cause a dog’s blood sugar levels to decrease rapidly and lead to liver failure. This is a toxic ingredient and should be avoided at all costs. While this sweetener is used in Thanksgiving meals, xylitol is also found in sugar-free gums, candy, mouthwashes, toothpastes and more so it’s important to be careful year-round.
While gravy does not present a toxic issue like some of the other foods on this list, it can result in gastroenteritis, an inflammation with symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea, and can get as serious as pancreatitis. Fatty foods should be avoided at all costs, especially if your pet breed is prone to pancreatitis.
Nuts, especially macadamia nuts, can be extremely harmful for pets. Signs of nut positioning include depression, weakness, vomiting, tremors and joint stiffness. Keep bowls of nuts or cookies containing nuts in high places or stored in a sealed container.
Alcohol’s toxicity is heavily dependent on body weight. Since your pet weighs a lot less than you do, even just a lick of alcohol can make them sick. When a dog or cat is exposed to alcohol, it causes depression in their nervous system. They can become drowsy and lose coordination. If pets are not treated, death can occur shortly after consumption.
Thanksgiving Leftover Recipes for Your Furry Friend
Now that you know the correct foods for your pup, spoil them with a delicious Thanksgiving meal they’ll never forget. Using just a few ingredients, we list our top four recipes you can make for your pooch this holiday season. We suggest prepping these meals a day or two before Thanksgiving, so you aren’t cooking for both humans and pets the day of the holiday.
- ½ cup canned pumpkin puree
- ½ cup plain non-fat yogurt
- Place pumpkin puree and yogurt into a blender.
- Blend on high until smooth.
- Pour mixture into small paper bowls.
- Refrigerate, freeze overnight or serve immediately.
Roasted Turkey Balls
- 6 oz. white meat turkey (cooked)
- ½ cup chopped carrots
- ½ cup ground quinoa
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Place white meat turkey and carrots in food processor and blend until smooth.
- Add quinoa and blend until mixed.
- Roll into about 1-inch balls and place on a cookie sheet.
- Bake for 15 minutes and serve once cooled.
Yappy Apple Pumpkin Pie
- 2 apples peeled and sliced
- 4 oz. canned pumpkin
- A dash of cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Place apples face up on a cookie sheet.
- Spoon pumpkin into the apple center.
- Sprinkle cinnamon on top and bake for 30 minutes.
- Allow to cool and serve.
- ½ cup green beans
- ½ cup white turkey meat
- ¼ cup mashed potatoes
- Cook turkey per usual for your Thanksgiving meal.
- Pick out about half a cup of white turkey meat from inside the turkey, away from seasonings.
- Cook mashed potatoes per usual for your Thanksgiving meal and place ¼ cup on your pet’s bowl.
- Place turkey in the bowl and add raw green beans.
- Serve as a delicious feast!
Keeping Your Pet Safe
Ultimately, you want to keep your pet safe this holiday season. During the holiday season, pets may be overwhelmed and run away. Ensure they are tagged to prevent losing them and keep them out of the kitchen if you can. With new faces coming into your home, your pet may be on guard, so reward them with one of our delicious recipes or a quick bite of some homemade food. As the season of thanks wraps up, order them a personalized stocking you can fill with their favorite treats and toys.