Thanksgiving Pet Safety Advice for a Happy Holiday
Thanksgiving is long-anticipated throughout the year for the family, friends, and food it brings to the table! Unfortunately for our pets, many of these foods need to stay on the table because they are unhealthy and even dangerous for cats and dogs to consume. Pets can be at risk for weight gain during the holidays just like we can, as well as some more serious conditions if they eat food that is toxic to them. At our Newport News animal hospital, we’ve created a Thanksgiving pet safety food guide to help you know which foods are no-no’s for pets, and which ones you can share!
Much of the food we prepare at Thanksgiving can be dangerous to our pets. Foods may contain a certain toxin or simply be too fatty or salty for pets to consume safely. Their bodies cannot metabolize certain ingredients the way ours do, which can put them at risk of dangerous symptoms and conditions, including pancreatitis, a life-threatening condition. The list below contains foods you shouldn’t share with your pet — not even a nibble!
- Chocolate – Chocolate is a known toxin for dogs and cats. Its toxicity comes from the stimulants it contains, namely theobromine and caffeine, which pets cannot effectively metabolize. The darker the chocolate, the higher concentration of these stimulants.
- Corn pudding – This rich and creamy dish has too many ingredients that can upset our pets’ stomachs or cause worse problems.
- Garlic – Garlic contains thiosulfates which are toxic to dogs. For cats, garlic is even more toxic than onions because it is so much more concentrated.
- Grapes/raisins – Grapes and raisins are both dangerous to cats and dogs due to the toxic compounds they contain.
- Green bean casserole – This casserole (and most casseroles!) is too rich and contains many ingredients that are hazardous for our pets.
- Ham – Ham has far too much sodium and fat to be safe for pets. The same goes for bacon!
- Nutmeg – Nutmeg contains myristicin which is highly toxic to dogs. For cats, it is acceptable in very small amounts.
- Onions – Onions (and any form of onion, including onion powder) are very toxic to cats and dogs.
- Pecan pie – This pie is way too sugary and rich for our pets — the nuts alone are too oily, and the sugary filling is just that — too sugary!
- Pumpkin pie – While plain pumpkin is safe, the added ingredients in pumpkin pie such as the condensed milk, sugar, and spices, make this a no-no for pets.
- Stuffing – Stuffing can be awfully dangerous for our pets because it often contains garlic, onions, shallots, and/or chives, all of which are poisonous to pets.
- Xylitol – Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that is found in sugar-free candies, baked goods, and peanut butter. While we have no problem digesting it, it is highly toxic to our cats and dogs!
Safe Thanksgiving Foods to Share
The foods in this list are safe for our pets to enjoy, but pay attention to how each one needs to be prepared! Additionally, keep in mind that weight gain is just as likely for pets as it is for us during the holidays! None of these foods should be shared copiously — keep it all in moderation. The amounts your pet can enjoy without weight gain will depend on their size and age. Keeping human foods to less than 10% of their diet should be safe, but talk to your veterinarian if you have any concerns.
Safe foods include:
- Beef – lean pieces only; well-cooked and unseasoned
- Bread (white and wheat) – all bread should be plain, with no toppings and no added ingredients, like raisins, that are toxic to pets
- Broccoli – cooked and plain only
- Brussels sprouts – cooked and plain only
- Carrots – cooked only for cats, but dogs can enjoy them raw, too
- Celery – cooked, and only in very small amounts; too much can cause diarrhea
- Cheese – most varieties are okay in small amounts
- Chicken – well-cooked, lean, boneless, and skinless
- Cinnamon – okay in very small amounts, but it can become toxic in larger quantities
- Corn – kernels are safe when cooked and plain, but corn on the cob is a choking hazard
- Cranberry sauce – share only a little because many recipes are very high in sugar
- Gravy – safe only in very small quantities due to its high fat content, and pay attention to the ingredients to ensure it doesn’t contain any toxins like onions and garlic
- Green beans – safe both cooked and raw for cats and dogs
- Milk – in very small amounts because many pets are lactose intolerant
- Mushrooms – store-bought varieties are safe, but wild mushrooms can be very dangerous; it may be best not to share any mushrooms with your pet to keep them from investigating the wild varieties
- Nutmeg – only safe for cats in very small amounts; nutmeg is unsafe for dogs
- Pork – lean, unseasoned, boneless pieces only; ham and bacon are too salty and fatty for pets
- Potatoes – cooked and unseasoned potatoes are safe, and some mashed potatoes with a bit of milk are okay; however, raw potatoes are lethal to cats and toxic to dogs
- Pumpkin – cooked and plain pumpkin is safe, but pumpkin pie filling is not
- Rice (white or brown) – cooked and plain
- Sweet potatoes/candied yams – plain, cooked sweet potatoes and yams are safe; only a small amount of the candied kind is okay, as long as it has limited sugar and spices (no nutmeg for dogs)
- Turkey – lean, boneless, skinless pieces are safe
Have any other questions about Thanksgiving pet safety and the foods your pet can and cannot enjoy? Contact our animal hospital at (757) 877-6464 or ask us at your next visit!