Thanksgiving is a wonderful time for sharing delicious food with your family, but make sure you know what is and isn't safe before you share any of your holiday meals with your beloved family pet.

Thanksgiving Is A Time For Extra Caution

Many pet owners may share a bit of human food with their animals from time to time, but Thanksgiving is a time for extra caution. A number of traditional Thanksgiving foods are actually safe for our pets, but there are some serious dangers in sharing your holiday plate with your animals.

Remind Guests Of Your Rules

While you may never feed your pets table scraps, you will want to ensure that any visiting guests or children respect that boundary too. We don't want Aunt Edna slipping Fido some turkey under the table when you aren't looking.

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No Fatty Foods

Avoid feeding fatty foods to your pets. These can be difficult for them to digest and can lead to gastrointestinal troubles. This includes turkey skin and gravy. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, even small amounts can lead to dangerous consequences.

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Eating turkey or turkey skin—sometimes even a small amount—can cause a life-threatening condition in pets known as pancreatitis. - AVMA

No Bad Bones

While many people give their pets bones to chew on, bones found as part of your Thanksgiving meal should be off-limits. Poultry bones in particular are incredibly dangerous for pets as they can splinter. They are so dangerous in fact, that it is a good idea to dispose of turkey carcasses immediately to avoid accidental ingestion when your pet gets curious about what's in the trash.

No Sweets

Most pet owners know to avoid feeding their beloved animals chocolate, but what about things like pumpkin pie? While plain pumpkin puree is an acceptable treat for your pet in small amounts, the spices and other ingredients in your holiday baked goods can pose a health risk. This is especially true for sugar-free sweet treats. Many of these contain xylitol and ingestion of this artificial sweetener can be deadly for both dogs and cats.

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No Holiday Extras

In addition to the Thanksgiving table basics like turkey and pie, other items that may be included in your holiday meal like grapes, raisins, onion, garlic, and even yeast rolls can mean big trouble for our four-legged friends. And while alcohol may be a part of your holiday tradition, it should never be consumed by your pets.

Take Out the Trash

While this may seem like a no-brainer, once the meal is through, and maybe even before, take out the trash. Not only could the bones pose a threat as previously mentioned but so can food wrappers, baking string, and any number of other things your pet's nose may get them into inside your trash can.

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A turkey carcass sitting out on the table, or left in a trash container that is open or easily opened, could be deadly to your family pet. Dispose of turkey carcasses, bones, and scraps—and anything used to wrap or tie the meat, such as strings, bags, and packaging—in a covered, tightly secured trash bag placed in a closed trash container outdoors (or behind a closed, locked door). - AVMA

Help! My Pet Ate Something They Shouldn't Have!

If you and your pet find yourselves in a situation where you suspect they have consumed something dangerous for them, both the AKC and the AVMA agree that you should contact your vet's office or an emergency vet clinic immediately. You can also contact the ASPCA's Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 or the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661. (Note: There may be a fee associated with contacting either of these emergency poison hotlines.)

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What Foods Can You Share With Your Pet?

If you do want to share a little Thanksgiving spirit with your pet, there are a few human foods that are safe to share, according to the America Kennel Club.

  • Turkey is safe if the skin and fat have been removed and the turkey has been cooked with no seasonings or added ingredients like onion or garlic.
  • Sweet potatoes are a great treat for your pet on Thanksgiving. Just be sure that they are plain and don't have any of the usual human extras like butter, brown sugar, or marshmallows.
  • Plain potatoes are another option for your pet but like their orange cousins, make sure they are plain. Boiled or baked is best and be sure to skip the butter, garlic, or cream.
  • Apples are a safe sweet treat for your pet, but be cautious of the seeds. Too many apple seeds can be toxic.
  • Plain pumpkin puree is wonderful for pets. Just avoid anything that has added spices traditionally served with pumpkin. The pumpkin is pet-friendly, but the spices are not.
  • Green beans and plain peas get a pass. The emphasis here is plain. Stick to plain, unseasoned green beans, and peas. Creamed peas are a no-no for the same reason as mashed potatoes - it's made with milk or cream and the fat content can be too much for your pet's digestive system to process.

If you want to share Thanksgiving with your pets, it may be best to cook non-seasoned portions just for them rather than sharing from your own plate.

[Source: AKC.org; AVMA.org]

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