5 Thanksgiving Foods to Keep Away From Your Dog
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5 Thanksgiving Foods to Keep Away From Your Dog

Thanksgiving is a time for gathering with friends and family and indulging in delicious food. As you get ready to celebrate this season, it’s important to know that some food on your Thanksgiving table may not be safe for pets. Dogs have different dietary needs, and certain ingredients commonly found in holiday dishes can be incredibly harmful. This blog post will explore what your dog can safely enjoy on Thanksgiving and the five foods they should avoid. We’ll also share some tips for including your pup in the festivities while keeping their health in mind. 

What Can Dogs Safely Eat on Thanksgiving?

When it comes to Thanksgiving food for dogs, what can they eat? If you’ve never shared an item of “human food” with your dog before, it’s important to give small amounts not to upset their stomach and to be sure they don’t have any allergies. The list below will dive into some items you can share with your beloved pup. 


It’s often the centerpiece of Thanksgiving feasts; fortunately, turkey can be a safe treat for your dog when prepared correctly. According to PetMD, stick to lean, boneless, and well-cooked turkey meat. Avoid seasonings like garlic and onions because they can harm dogs. Remove the skin because it can be too fatty, and ensure there are no bones in the portions that you share.


Cranberries, in moderation, can be safe for your dog to eat. They even provide some health benefits because they are rich in antioxidants! Be careful – cranberry sauce is different than regular plain cranberries. Cranberry sauce has high amounts of sugar, which is unsafe for dogs. Fresh or unsweetened cranberries are a better option to share this Thanksgiving classic with your furry friend.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a nutritious and dog-friendly Thanksgiving side dish. Avoid adding butter, spices, or sweeteners, as these can upset your dog’s stomach. Otherwise, these tubers are rich in vitamins and fiber and can be a tasty and healthy addition to your dog’s diet! 


Another Thanksgiving food safe for dogs! It’s a great source of fiber and can help with digestive issues. Plain, canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) can be added to your dog’s food in small amounts. As always, moderation is key to preventing any stomach upset. 

a picture of thanksgiving foods that are safe for dogs
a picture of thanksgiving foods that are safe for dogs

5 Foods Your Dog Should Stay Away from on Thanksgiving

Now that we’ve taken a look at what dogs can eat off of your Thanksgiving menu, let’s take a look at what they can’t

Mashed Potatoes

While plain mashed potatoes might be a harmless snack, mashed potato sides usually contain ingredients that are not suitable for your precious pup. Garlic and onions are common additives in mashed potatoes and can be toxic to your four-legged friend. Even if you’re not including those in the dish this year, the high-fat content in some recipes can lead to pancreatitis in dogs. According to the American Kennel Club, this is a food you should skip sharing!

Turkey Skin, Bones, and Drippings

Can dogs eat turkey? Yes, but do not include any turkey skin, bones, or drippings if you’re going to share that meat. As tempting as it may be to share that flavorful skin or bones with your pup – don’t! Turkey's skin is high in fat and can cause digestive issues, and bones can splinter and be a choking hazard. Drippings and gravies also often contain seasonings that are harmful to dogs, so it's best just to avoid sharing these things altogether. 


Another minefield of dangerous ingredients for dogs, stuffing is commonly made with onions, garlic, and herbs that can be toxic to dogs. Again, the high-fat content in some recipes can also lead to gastrointestinal distress in dogs. Keeping the stuffing dish out of your pup’s reach will prevent accidental ingestion. 


While some mushrooms are safe for dogs, many varieties can be toxic. It’s hard to differentiate between safe and poisonous mushrooms, so it is best to err on caution and avoid sharing any mushroom dishes with your dog. 


Thanksgiving desserts are often loaded with sugar, which is not only unhealthy but can also be dangerous for dogs. Excessive sugar intake can lead to obesity and dental issues in dogs. Keep desserts out of reach, and resist the temptation to share sweet treats with your furry friend. 

Sneaky Dangers in Your Thanksgiving Meal

The foods we listed above are cause for concern, but there are other hidden dangers in your Thanksgiving meals. Onions and garlic are common ingredients in many dishes, but they can harm dogs, even in small amounts. 

Other herbs and spices to avoid include salt, sugar, cocoa powder, nutmeg, mint, marjoram, caraway, oregano, sorrel, and tarragon. Be sure to check ingredient lists carefully, and avoid sharing any seasoned foods with these ingredients. 

Ways to Include Your Pup in Thanksgiving Dinner

Are you looking for a way to include your dog in Thanksgiving dinner but want to ensure their meal is safe and healthy? Consider preparing a special Thanksgiving treat for your pup to enjoy alongside the family. 

A Tasty Thanksgiving Recipe Your Dog Will Enjoy!

Combine lean, cooked turkey with plain, unsweetened pumpkin puree for a simple recipe, inspired by those at Zoetis. Form this mixture into small balls and bake for a dog-friendly snack your pup will love!

More Dog Safety Tips for a Happy Thanksgiving

Rolling into the holiday season should be an abundance of fun. It should not include an unplanned trip to the vet or health scares in your beloved furry friends.

Here’s how to prepare for the holidays and be aware of other dangers outside the dinner table.  

The Dangers of Garbage Cans, Purses and Luggage

With delicious smells wafting through the air this Thanksgiving, your pup might be tempted to explore the garbage can or rummage through bags. Secure trash bins and keep bags out of reach to prevent your dog from ingesting harmful items. 

The Dangers of Flowers and Centerpieces

Those beautiful centerpieces are often filled with plants and flowers toxic to dogs. Keeping arrangements out of your pet’s reach or opting for pet-friendly options like roses, marigolds, or sunflowers can help protect your dog’s health. 

Less Stress, More Joy

Thanksgiving can be overwhelming for pets with the hustle and bustle of guests. Create a quiet and comfortable space for your dog to retreat if they need a break from the festivities. 

Be Prepared for Emergencies

In case of accidental ingestion of harmful foods or substances, have the contact information for your veterinarian and an emergency poison control hotline readily available. Acting quickly can make a significant difference in your dog’s well-being!

Recap: Safe Thanksgiving for Your Dog

As you prepare your Thanksgiving feast, keep in mind what foods can be safely shared with your dog and those that should be avoided. Examples of Thanksgiving foods safe for dogs to eat include plain, well-cooked lean turkey, pumpkin puree, and plain sweet potatoes. 

Be cautious of hidden dangers in dishes, such as onions, garlic, and excessive salt and sugar. Ensure a stress-free environment is available for your dog to decompress during the craziness of festivities, and learn how to be prepared for emergencies. 

This Thanksgiving, let’s ensure that our beloved companions can join in the celebration safely, with a special treat of their own and a watchful eye on the dinner table. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What Thanksgiving foods are bad for dogs?

Foods to avoid giving dogs on Thanksgiving include onions, garlic, turkey skin, bones, drippings, stuffing, mushrooms, and desserts. 

What Thanksgiving food is safe for dogs?

Dogs can safely enjoy plain, well-cooked turkey meat, cranberries (in moderation), plain sweet potatoes, and plain, unsweetened pumpkin. 

What Thanksgiving food dogs shouldn’t eat and why?

Dogs should avoid things like garlic and onions, which can be toxic, as well as high-fat and seasoned dishes like turkey skin, bones, drippings, stuffing, and desserts with excessive sugar, all of which can cause digestive issues and other health problems. Mushrooms can also be incredibly toxic to dogs and should be avoided. 

What seasonings can dogs have?

If you’re looking to prepare a special treat for your dog this Thanksgiving, consider using spices like basil, cinnamon, parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme, or turmeric. These are anti-inflammatory and have antioxidant properties.

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