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Breed & Health Resources

What Thanksgiving foods can your dog eat?

By Liz Palika

dog staring at cooked turkey

Most of us enjoy sharing holidays with our pets; after all, they are family. We give them birthday presents and wrap a toy or two for them under the tree. But Thanksgiving is based on food – lots of food. So what can you feed your dog on Thanksgiving? Turkey? Or how about pumpkin pie? Let’s take a look at some foods your dog will enjoy that are safe (and potentially healthy) for him to eat.

What foods are safe to share?

Turkey

A big question around Thanksgiving is, “can my dog have turkey?” Yes, your dog can share some turkey with you! Cooked white meat turkey cut into tiny pieces (so he won’t gulp it quite so fast) and mixed with his food is great. Avoid the fatty parts of meat (generally the dark meat) and don’t give him the seasoned skin. Seasonings can cause gastrointestinal upsets, as can the fat under the skin. No bones either. Cooked poultry bones are sharp, will shatter when crunched, and are dangerous to his mouth, throat, stomach, and intestines.

Green Beans

When you’re preparing the ingredients for the traditional green bean casserole, set aside some of the green beans. Cook them, chop them up, and set them aside for your dog. As with the turkey, mix some in with your dog’s food. They are great nutrition and most dogs enjoy them. Don’t share some of the casserole as the other ingredients can cause a belly ache. Just share plain green beans.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a wonderfully nutritious food. As you cut them up for their own traditional dish, set aside a few chopped pieces and cook them by themselves either in the microwave or in another pan in the oven. Cooked until soft, these pieces can be hand-fed as a treat or mixed in with the dog food. Their sweet taste is appealing to almost all dogs. As with the green beans though, don’t give your dog a scoop of the finished dish. Not only do some marshmallows contain xylitol, which is a sweetener that is deadly to dogs, but all of the other ingredients can also cause gastrointestinal upset.

Pumpkin

When you roast those sweet potato pieces, roast some pumpkin pieces too. Although, do not feed your dog pumpkin pie. Pumpkin pie filling has too many seasonings to give your dog; however, cooked raw pumpkin with no seasonings is a great food. Although many dogs will take a raw piece of pumpkin and chew on it like a bone (which is fine, by the way) roasting the pumpkin brings out its sweetness, and on Thanksgiving we all appreciate some of that!

Carrots

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

What foods should my dog avoid on Thanksgiving?

There are several foods you shouldn’t share with your dog on Thanksgiving, some previously mentioned, but included in the following:

Turkey Bones 

Like we mentioned before, turkey bones can be chewed on and then splinter. This can lead to mouth, throat, and gastrointestinal injuries. Better to let Fido chew on his toys- not the wishbone. 

Fatty Proteins

Meats that are high in fat, such as ham or dark meat (turkey) can cause vomiting and diarrhea. In some instances, heavy intake of high-fat foods can also lead to pancreatitis. Keep the protein restricted to light meat with low amounts of seasoning. 

Foods Containing Xylitol

Many mass-produced sweets contain xylitol. This sugar substitute is highly fatal to dogs, even in small doses. If you have a counter-surfer, keep everything that could contain xylitol far from the edge.

Chocolate

This is a pretty well-known fact but chocolate can be deadly to dogs. Keep it far out of reach!

Mashed Potatoes 

Plain potatoes may be OK for your pup; however, most hosts will put heavy amounts of butter, milk, garlic, onion….the list goes on. If the mashed potatoes at your dinner are packed full of seasoning it can lead to an upset stomach and the clean up that goes with it. 

With many safe, healthy foods that your dog can eat listed above, avoid giving him anything else. That’s the easiest way to handle it as so many foods can be a problem.

So tell the kids, visiting family members, and everyone else that they are not to feed the dog at all. Nothing. Let them know that you’ve provided some Thanksgiving treats.

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