Thanksgiving is about spending time with family, including your four-legged family members. You may be tempted to share the Thanksgiving feast with your pet—it is a family dinner, after all—but not all the fixings are safe for your pet. Fortunately, you can make many pet-friendly alternatives and let your pet have a feast of their own.

Our Walnut Creek Veterinary Hospital team wants your pet to enjoy Thanksgiving as much as you do, without food that will lead to tummy troubles—or worse. We’re sharing a list of unsafe Thanksgiving foods for pets, and healthy alternatives that will meet your approval—and your pet’s. 

Say “No” to turkey skin for pets

Because turkey is a common ingredient in pet foods, you may believe that it’s safe to toss your pet a juicy slice from your Thanksgiving plate. However, that’s not the case, although the problem with feeding turkey to your pet isn’t the meat itself. Turkey skin and dark meat are high in fats, and can cause inflammation of the pancreas. A large, fatty meal, especially in pets who are not used to rich, fatty foods, is the most common cause of acute pancreatitis. Also, turkey is often seasoned with garlic and onions, which are toxic to pets, and can cause digestive issues, such as vomiting and diarrhea.

  • Say “Yes” to a healthy alternative Skinless, unseasoned white turkey meat that’s been properly cooked is safe for pets, so long as you do not include any bones, and you feed only a small amount. 

Say “No” to turkey bones for your pet

You may be tempted to toss your pet a leftover turkey bone, but resist the urge. All turkey bones are dangerous for pets, but cooked bones, which can splinter and pierce your pet’s gastrointestinal (GI) tract, or become lodged and cause a blockage that requires emergency surgical removal, are especially dangerous.

  • Say “Yes” to a healthy alternative — Instead of a bone, give your pet a tasty—and healthy—dental chew that will also boost their oral health. Choose a dental chew that carries the VOHC seal of acceptance, because these products have been proven to reduce plaque or tartar by at least 10%. 

Say “No” to sugar for pets

You probably know that chocolate can be extremely toxic for pets—and the darker the chocolate, the more toxic—but other delicious desserts can have similar effects. Pies, cookies, brownies, and other goodies that contain xylitol, a common sugar substitute used for baking, can cause a dangerous blood sugar drop that can lead to acute liver failure in pets.   

  • Say “Yes” to healthy alternatives  Your pet doesn’t have to skip dessert. Serve them a few pieces of fruit—blueberries, watermelon, peaches, and strawberries are all pet-safe—but ensure you wash all the fruit and remove rinds, inedible skins, seeds, and pits before feeding your pet. 

Say “No” to alcohol for pets

Many pets are drawn to the sweet aroma of alcoholic drinks and will gladly lap up a spilled drink or a drink left within their reach. Pets who ingest alcohol experience the same side effects as humans, and can also develop dangerously low blood pressure, body temperature, and blood sugar. 

  • Say “Yes” to a healthy alternative — Pets are usually content drinking water from their bowl, but a few ice cubes, on the floor or in their water bowl, will excite them more. You can also add flavor to your pet’s water bowl with a small amount of low-sodium chicken broth, and—ta da—you’ve made a pet-friendly cocktail. 

Say “Yes” to vegetables for pets

Your mother probably urged you to eat your vegetables because they were so good for you—that goes for pets, too. Share the following with your pet this Thanksgiving:

  • Green beans — Plain green beans—with no added ingredients like butter or spices—are a tasty, safe treat for pets. Plus, they contain plant fiber, manganese, and vitamins C and K. 
  • Sweet potatoes — Sweet potatoes are a great source of dietary fiber, vitamins C and B6, and beta-carotene, but ensure they are thoroughly cooked, skinless, and unseasoned. 
  • Pumpkin — Pumpkin isn’t only yummy—it’s also good for your pet’s digestive system, skin, and coat. Stick to pure pumpkin puree, and stay away from spiced pie filling.

Your pet is an important part of the family, and there’s no reason not to include them in your Thanksgiving celebration. Your pet will be thankful for their special feast, and you can feel good, knowing their food is good for them. However, should your pet manage to eat something they shouldn’t, contact Walnut Creek Veterinary Hospital for guidance.