The holidays are upon us! If you’re like our household, you like including your pets in holiday celebrations. We may think that giving them their own special dish of food to enjoy for Thanksgiving is a good idea, and it can be a great bonding experience but you need to be very careful with what you feed them and how it is prepared. The last thing you want to be doing in the middle of Thanksgiving is visiting an emergency vet or waiting on hold with the Pet Poison Helpline.

Pet poisonings and stomach upsets spike every holiday season. This is because pets often get their paws on something they shouldn’t be eating. Even if you know something is safe to give your cat or dog, even “safe” foods can upset their stomach if it’s a deviation from their normal diet—especially if your pet already has pre-existing sensitivities.

Generally, it’s best to avoid giving your dog or cat food that is intended for humans but with some planning and your veterinarian’s approval, a small Thanksgiving treat may be a nice way to bond with your pet this holiday. Of course there are all sorts of safe gourmet, Holiday-themed pet food and treats you can buy, but with some planning and care you can make your pet’s holiday meal special at home.

Some good “people food” choices you may offer your pet are a little bit cooked turkey without seasonings, skin or bones. A small dollop of canned, pureed pumpkin can be a sweet addition to some dry kibble.

Some things to avoid are

  1. Chocolate
  2. Coffee and Soft Drinks
  3. Alcohol
  4. Onions
  5. Garlic
  6. Sauces, like gravy
  7. High sodium foods (yes, that means bacon)
  8. Anything containing Xylitol (an artificial sweetener)
  9. Grapes or raisins
  10. Yeast dough
  11. Avocados

The lists above are NOT complete. Check out reputable sources like the American Veterinary Medical Association for safe options as well as things to avoid. Always do your research first!

Including your pet in your holiday celebrations is wonderful. It shows them that they are a special part of the family, too. If you choose to share a Thanksgiving treat with your pet, make sure you know what they are eating and that it is healthy for them. After all, you don’t want to be worrying about both of you overindulging in all the tasty treats this Thanksgiving!


rizal lopez - veterinarianAbout The Author: Rizal Lopez, DVM, is Chief Veterinary Officer for SPCA Tampa Bay. He and his staff have completed over 8,000 procedures since opening the St. Pete Veterinary Center in late 2016. Dr. Lopez, since joining the organization in 2011, has performed over 20,000 spay/neuter procedures for the community. He held several positions with the organization before taking the lead veterinary role at the center.