What Thanksgiving Foods Can Dogs Eat? (And What To Avoid)

Holiday & Seasonal
A woman smiling and petting a dog that's sitting near the dinner table on Thanksgiving.

Most of us enjoy sharing holidays with our pets; after all, they’re  family. We give them birthday presents and wrap a toy or two for them under the tree.

But a Thanksgiving meal is based on human foods — so what can you feed your dog on Thanksgiving? Let’s take a look at some foods that are safe (and not safe) for them to eat.

What Foods Are Safe to Share?

Feeding your dog during Thanksgiving dinner can be fun, because you want them to participate in the festivities with you. If you’re wondering “What Thanksgiving foods can dogs eat?”, you’re in the right place.

There’s no need for dogs to beg at the table for dinner scraps, because there’s a whole list of Thanksgiving foods that are safe for dogs.

Turkey

First on the list of Thanksgiving foods dogs can eat is turkey! A small amount of plain turkey meat is a great protein source for dogs (and cats). Any part of the breast meat is ideal for dogs to consume.

However, make sure to avoid the fatty parts of meat (generally the dark meat) and don’t give dogs the seasoned skin.

Seasonings can cause gastrointestinal upsets, as can the fat under the skin or eating too much of it outside of their normal diet.

No turkey bones, either. Cooked poultry bones are sharp, and will shatter when crunched. They're a choking hazard and dangerous to a dog’s digestive system.

Green Beans

Green beans are great nutrition and most dogs enjoy them. They contain protein, iron, calcium, and more. Cook them, chop them up, and set them aside for your dog. 

However, don’t share some of the casserole, as the other ingredients can cause a belly ache. Just give them plain green beans.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a wonderfully nutritious food. They’re a great source of fiber and satisfy their sweet tooth without going overboard on the sugar.

Cooked until soft, sweet potato pieces can be hand-fed as a dog treat or mixed in with your dog’s regular food. The sweetness of a yam is appealing to almost all dogs.

As with the green beans though, don’t give your dog a scoop of the finished dish, especially if there are marshmallows in it. Processed food can contain a lot of ingredients that are bad for dogs, and some of these ingredients may be hidden.

Pumpkin

When you roast those sweet potato pieces, roast some pumpkin pieces, too. Just keep in mind that pumpkin pie is off-limits for dogs.

Pumpkin pie filling has too many seasonings. But, cooked or raw pumpkin with no seasonings is a great dog-friendly food.

Carrots

Another food your dog can share is carrots: raw or cooked, chopped or grated, given alone or mixed in with dog food. They may also enjoy a slice of apple before you make the pie.

What Foods Should My Dog Avoid on Thanksgiving?

Now that you know some of the best dog safe thanksgiving food options, let’s take a closer look at what should be avoided:

Turkey Bones

As mentioned before, turkey bones can be chewed on and then splinter, leading to mouth, throat, and gastrointestinal injuries. Better to let your dog chew on their toys—not the wishbone.

Fatty Proteins

Meats that are high in fat, such as ham or dark meat, can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. Heavy intake of high-fat foods can also lead to pancreatitis in some cases.

Keep the protein restricted to light and lean meat with low amounts of seasoning.

Foods Containing Xylitol

Many mass-produced sweets contain the artificial sweetener xylitol, which is fatal for dogs even in small doses.

While added sugar isn’t great for dogs, sugar substitutes are much worse.

If your dog likes to sneak up to kitchen counters, keep everything that could contain xylitol far from the edge.

Alcohol

Even small amounts of alcohol can be dangerous to your pet. Signs to watch for are:

  • Decreased coordination

  • Tremors

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

Chocolate

Chocolate is toxic to dogs, and even a small amount could be deadly. Keep chocolate chip cookies, chocolate pie, and brownies, far out of reach.

Signs of Chocolate Poisoning in Dogs

If you suspect your dog has eaten chocolate, here are some warning signs of chocolate poisoning:

  • Vomiting

  • Bathroom Problems

  • Restlessness

Call your vet if your dog exhibits these symptoms.

Mashed Potatoes

Plain potatoes may be safe for your pup, but mashed potatoes are not. Most dinner hosts use onions and garlic, and large amounts of butter and milk. None of those ingredients are safe for dogs.

If the mashed potatoes at your dinner are packed full of seasoning, it can lead to an upset stomach. 

Establish Dinner Rules

If you have a pet that likes to beg for food at the dinner table, consider scheduling their feeding time around the same time you eat so they don’t feel left out.

You can also keep them busy with a chew toy or treat while you eat.

Lastly, if your pet is crate trained, dinner time might be a good time for your pet to get a nap in while the rest of the family eats.

Tell the kids, visiting family members, and everyone else that they are not to feed the dog at all. Let them know that you’ve already given your pet Thanksgiving treats and a comfy napping spot.

And if you have a dog that gets hyper around food and guests, consider taking them on a long walk or run before festivities start.