Tips for a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving with Your Pet

A gray dog sitting in front of different sized pumpkins

Tips for a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving with Your Pet

Thanksgiving is usually thought of as a time for indulging in a feast of delicious food. However, while we’re enjoying the festivities, it’s essential to remember the well-being of our pets. The holiday season can present various hazards for pets, from tempting but toxic foods to increased chances of escape. In this blog, we’ll discuss having a safe Thanksgiving with your pet, focusing on what foods are safe for pets, the dangers of cooked bones, and steps you can take to ensure a pet-friendly celebration.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Thanksgiving Foods for Pets

One of the most critical aspects of pet safety during Thanksgiving is being mindful of the foods you share with your companions. While some Thanksgiving dishes are safe for pets, others can be harmful or even life-threatening. Here’s a list of foods you can and cannot share with your pets:

Safe Foods for Pets:

  • Turkey (in moderation): Small amounts of plain, well-cooked, boneless turkey meat are safe for pets. Remove the skin and any bones, as they can be problematic (more on that below).

  • Plain Vegetables: Steamed or plain cooked vegetables like green beans, carrots, and sweet potatoes are safe and healthy treats for your pets.

  • Cranberry Sauce: Small amounts of unsweetened cranberry sauce are safe for pets and can be a tasty addition to their meal.


Foods to Avoid:


  • Bones: Cooked bones, especially turkey bones, can splinter and cause serious injuries, including punctured intestines. Always discard bones in a secure trash can, away from your pet’s reach.

  • Onions and Garlic: These ingredients, commonly found in stuffing and gravy, can be toxic to pets and should be avoided.

  • Grapes and Raisins: These are known to be toxic to dogs and can lead to kidney failure, so keep them out of reach.

  • Chocolate and Sweets: Chocolate and sweets containing xylitol can be extremely harmful to pets and should be kept away.

  • Alcohol: Keep alcoholic beverages out of your pet’s reach, as alcohol can lead to severe health problems, including poisoning.

  • Nuts: Macadamia nuts and walnuts are toxic to dogs and should not be given to pets.

  • Spices and Seasonings: High-fat, heavily spiced, or seasoned foods can lead to digestive upset in pets, so it’s best to avoid them.


The Danger of Cooked Bones


Cooked bones, especially poultry bones, are a significant hazard during Thanksgiving. When cooked, bones become brittle and can easily splinter into sharp pieces that may cause choking, blockages, or internal injuries in pets. It’s crucial to ensure that all bones, including turkey bones, are securely disposed of in a pet-proof garbage container. Do not leave bones lying around or allow your pet to chew on them.  Chewing on bones can also result in fractured teeth, something we see often!  For more information on fractured teeth visit our website at:


Have a Safe Thanksgiving with Your Pet


Beyond the food, there are other considerations to ensure your pet’s safety during Thanksgiving gatherings:


  1. Watch the Door: With guests coming and going, it’s easy for a curious or scared pet to slip out. Keep a close eye on your pet, use a leash if needed, and make sure they have proper identification in case they do escape.

  2. Secure the Garbage: Dispose of food scraps and trash in a pet-proof container. Pets are known for raiding the garbage for tasty tidbits, which can lead to digestive issues or poisoning.

  3. Create a Safe Space: If your pet is anxious around guests, consider creating a quiet, safe space where they can retreat to if needed. Provide their bed, toys, and water.

  4. Pet-Friendly Meal Prep: If you want to involve your pet in the Thanksgiving festivities, consider making a special pet-friendly meal. You can prepare a simple dish with safe ingredients like plain turkey and vegetables. Just ensure there are no seasonings, spices, or toxic ingredients.
In Conclusion

Thanksgiving can be a wonderful time for both you and your pets if you take the necessary precautions. By being mindful of the foods you share, the danger of cooked bones, and taking steps to keep your pet safe, you can enjoy the holiday while keeping your furry friends happy and healthy. A little planning and vigilance go a long way in ensuring a safe Thanksgiving with your pet. The Veterinary Dental Specialists of Wisconsin team wishes you and your pets a Happy Thanksgiving!

For more information on household hazards for pets visit the AVMA website at



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