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  • Marcy Santos

Dog-Safe Thanksgiving Foods

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, we're beginning to shop for all our favorite Thanksgiving classics to be lovingly prepared and served with our family gathered around the table.

Dogs are a beloved part of many families, and we may be tempted to share our delicious feast with them right from the table. However, most of us are not thinking about dog safety while we're filling our bellies with traditional Thanksgiving grub.

Some of the classics may not be entirely safe for our dogs. To prepare, we can inform ourselves of what foods are and aren’t safe before we slip our beloved dogs something under the table. Armed with a little knowledge of pet safety, we can avoid harm to our four-legged friends while we celebrate this Thanksgiving.


Turkey is the most classic of classics at Thanksgiving. Our dog loves the rich smell of turkey bubbling away in the oven just like the rest of us. And why not? Turkey is a main ingredient in many commercial pet foods and is often used in raw and homemade dog food diets.

Turkey has many benefits, including protein and phosphorus, both essential nutrients for our pets.

But turkey that's suitable for our canine friends is precisely that: plain old turkey.

Most turkeys at Thanksgiving are dressed for the best. They include all the favorites like onions and garlic baked right in, slathered with butter, herbs, and spices. Most of these are bad for your dog at best and downright toxic at worst.

Plain old unseasoned turkey is the only way to go for your four-legged friend.

As always, check with a veterinarian before considering feeding scraps after the meal is over. They will have more info about pet safety for curious pet parents.

Mashed Potatoes

Similar to Thanksgiving turkey, most ingredients we're likely to find in gravy are going to be unsuitable for dogs. Typically heavy in salt content and herbs, gravy is likely to upset our pets' stomachs even if it pleases their palette.

If you want to share, you’re better off with a dollop of plain mashed potatoes for your dog, before anything else like salt or butter is mixed in.


Peas are often found in dog food because they are rich in vitamins and minerals, like vitamins A, B, and K. They also include a hearty dose of fiber, magnesium, potassium, and more. This means it’s perfect for your dog!

As usual, the best way to feed these peas would be pre-seasoning or without any additives like butter or oil.


One of the most classic dressings at Thanksgiving is the ooey-gooey cranberry sauce. It adds a tart kick to just about anything on the plate.

Cranberries are often used in dog supplements as urinary tract support and are safe for your dog in small quantities. Remember, however, that some cranberry sauces may be mixed with other fruits, like raisins, which are toxic. Too much sugar in the sauce isn't a good idea either.

If it's not pure cranberry, it may be better to avoid it.


And of course, finally, dessert!

Pumpkin pie is one of the most well-loved pie flavors of all time, and Thanksgiving is hardly Thanksgiving without it. Pumpkin is great for healthy digestion in pets. It is a staple in many dog foods, commercial and raw, and is often used as an additional supplement when things aren't moving along quite right.

As with the rest of the foods, while plain pumpkin is excellent for both cats and dogs, all the additional spices and sugar may not be the best. Overfeeding pumpkin can also cause additional problems for precisely the reasons mentioned above. Too much pumpkin can turn from a digestive aid to a laxative very quickly. Remember to feed your dog carefully in small amounts.

Keep it simple

The best thing we can do for our pets is to keep it simple when feeding them Thanksgiving leftovers. Consider saving a bit of turkey meat but avoid the skin. Save a bit of pumpkin for your pet before you add the spices.

Taking a moment to consider the safety of our pets before feeding them treats from the table will keep them safe this holiday season. A happy and healthy dog is definitely something to be thankful for.


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