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Safe Thanksgiving Treats for Pets

It’s always tempting to let our pets over-indulge around the holidays – after all, don’t we overdo it on the rich foods ourselves? While that may be true, letting your dog or cat eat too many treats or too much of what’s on the family table can lead to severe health issues.

Avoid Raw Meat and Bread Dough for Cats & Dogs

Your Thanksgiving Feast will no doubt be delicious, but some foods aren’t safe in any amount for pets. If you’re baking fresh bread or rolls, don’t give any of the raw dough to your pets. The yeast will convert to carbon dioxide and alcohol in their stomachs, causing pain, bloat and drunkenness that will mean an emergency trip to the veterinarian. In general, raw anything is a bad idea, including turkey, which may contain salmonella bacteria. Even raw eggs aren’t a good idea.

Rich Thanksgiving Treats Can Cause Pancreatitis

Rich, fat laden foods should always be avoided, as too much of it can cause pancreatitis, which will lead to hospitalization and even death if your pet isn’t treated soon enough. Pork chops, ribs and other rich meat dishes are particularly bad for dogs and cats. Also avoid giving salty snacks like potato chips, nachos and pretzels to your pets. Too much salt can lead to sodium ion poisoning, causing diarrhea, tremors, seizures and even death. Cats are very susceptible to poisoning from foods that have a lot of garlic or onion in them; dogs can also get sick from these, but it generally is worse for cats, often leading to death.

Milk and ice cream may seem mild or bland to you, but most animals don’t have the necessary enzymes to break down the lactose properly. If you want to give your furry friends a frozen treat, you can usually find frozen treats that mimic ice cream in the frozen section of your grocery store. Or try making frozen treats at home for your pets. Modern Cat offers recipes for tasty, frozen cat treats, or check out these yummy recipes for frozen dog treats from Pet Helpful.

Treats They Can Enjoy

You don’t have to deprive your cat or dog completely at Thanksgiving, Christmas or Hanukkah. Foods like cooked turkey or roast beef, a bit of gravy or cooked carrots or other vegetables can be given in moderation to your pets. Make sure your guests aren’t feeding your pets under the table or sneaking them tidbits throughout the day or your dog or cat could end up stuffed with too much of a good thing!

Small Pet Thanksgiving Treats

For guinea pigs, hamsters and rabbits, you’re limited to fruits and vegetables as treats, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a special meal for them. Try dried or fresh cranberries, some RAW yams or sweet potatoes or green beans. They are vegetarians, so meat is a no-no. The same goes for most birds. Giving parrots or cockatiels small pieces of apple or melon as Thanksgiving treats is a good idea. For a crunchy treat, consider dried banana chips.

And remember, no matter how much your pets beg at the Thanksgiving table, moderation is crucial so that everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving!



  1. Cathy

    November 19, 2016 7:37 pm

    I found out the hard way years ago when I gave my dogs too much turkey scraps and they got the “runs”. Moderation of the safe foods is the key.

    • Lori Hilliard

      November 20, 2016 4:59 pm

      Isn’t it awful when your pet gets sick when you were trying to do something special for them? My dog Soldier ended up with pancreatitis after i fed him too much pork. It was a sobering and expensive lesson!

  2. mommakatandherbearcat

    November 20, 2016 5:11 am

    A great reminder post! So many people have the best of intentions without knowing the dangers.

  3. Jan K

    November 20, 2016 1:24 pm

    I agree that moderation is key in a lot of these things. We only let our dogs lick our plates after a meal, or each just gets a little nibble of something. I make homemade meal toppers sometimes and even cook turkeys just for them at other times of the year (they let us share it though – LOL).

  4. Jodi Stone

    December 1, 2016 3:15 am

    Thanks for sharing this. There are so many does and don’ts with pets. As a rule I try not to give my dogs any table scraps (well maybe a bit of leftover breakfast.) 🙂

    • Lori Hilliard

      December 1, 2016 3:44 am

      You’re welcome, Jodi. We certainly do want to treat our pets like family, but sometimes it’s not what is in their best interests. We learn as we go, and sharing our stories is one way we can help each other.

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