This Thanksgiving may look a little different than years past, and some of us may be sharing our feast with a smaller group, or even just with the pets. While it is OK to give our four-legged family members a taste of the delicious Turkey Day fare, it is important to know which foods are safe for them.
When sharing people food with pets, they should be given only a small amount of pet-approved options, as large quantities can upset their tummies. If unsure about a particular food, avoid it just to be safe. It’s always better to err on the side of caution.
Here are some foods that are OK to give to pets, in small portions as a treat:
TURKEY: White meat is the safest; remove any excess skin or fat and make sure there are no bones or heavy seasoning.
FRESH OR CANNED PLAIN PUMPKIN: Pups love pumpkin, and it is a good source of fiber and vitamin A.
APPLES: Without seeds or core — apple seeds contain chemical compounds that are poisonous to animals. Avoid sharing the apple pie, just plain apples please.
MASHED POTATOES: Avoid sharing if additional ingredients were used to make the mashed potatoes such as cheese, sour cream, butter, onions or gravy, as these are not good for pets and may upset their stomachs.
SWEET POTATO: Cooked, cubed or mashed, without butter or seasoning.
GREEN BEANS: Fresh or the “no salt added” canned kind. My dogs love these as treats year-round. Be sure to rinse the canned green beans off before giving to pets.
CARROTS: Raw or cooked
SQUASH: Yellow squash and zucchini
GREENS: Lettuce and spinach
BERRIES: Blueberries and strawberries
While these foods are OK in moderation, there are several that are never a good idea to give pets, no matter how small the portion.
Following are some foods to avoid feeding, as they can be harmful and toxic to pets:
Garlic, onions, leeks and scallions: All have chemical properties that can be toxic, and even life threatening to dogs and cats
Bones of any kind: Chicken bones, turkey bones, etc. Cooked bones become dry and brittle and can easily crack and splinter in a pet’s mouth leading to painful cuts to the mouth and gums, choking, internal injuries, punctured organs, and can even be fatal.
Tomato: While they are nontoxic, tomatoes can cause an upset stomach as they are notoriously acidic.
Avocado: The leaves, fruit, seeds and bark of avocados contain persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs, and more serious signs in other animals such as birds, horses and rodents.
Mushrooms: Particularly wild mushrooms
Fruits with pits: Such as peaches, cherries and plums — in some cases the pit can be toxic or can simply present a choking hazard
Nuts: Particularly macadamia nuts, which are toxic to pets
Xylitol: Anything made with this artificial sweetener is a no-no for pets.
Chocolate: Ingesting even a small amount can be hazardous to pets, especially dark and baking chocolate.
Grapes and raisins: Contain chemical compounds that are toxic to dogs
Alcohol: Not any kind, including cooked in anything (fruitcake, etc.)
In this spirt of giving Thanksgiving, consider volunteering at or donating to an animal shelter or rescue. Many organizations have wish lists on their websites of donations needed such as food, treats, toys, supplies and beds. In addition, many volunteers travel or go home for the holidays and shelters an rescues rely on volunteers to care for the pets on a daily basis.