The Best (And Worst) Holiday Foods for Your Furry Friend

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, which means you’re probably preparing yourself for a long weekend of cooking and spending time with loved ones. The grocery list is endless, and the RSVP list is filled with all your favorite people ready to sit down and share a delicious, filling meal together. The food and the company can equally be the highlight of your holiday, but a special occasion wouldn’t be complete without your pets by your side.

This year, when your furry friends inevitably come begging for table scraps, be prepared with the knowledge of what’s safe for them to eat and what’s not. Just because you want to spoil them with the fantastic food you've prepared doesn't mean their bodies can handle sharing dinner with you. If you don’t know which foods are safe for them to eat and which aren’t, you could be taking an emergency visit to the vet.

Don’t take the risk of potentially hurting your pet this year — educate yourself on which foods you can let your fur-baby eat when you drop your Thanksgiving scraps on the floor.

Five Foods Your Animals Can Eat

If any of these five foods make it to the floor — or if you have way too much leftover after all the humans have had seconds and thirds — feel free to give them to your dog or cat as a special holiday treat.

1. Pumpkin

Pumpkin pie is a classic Thanksgiving food that might even end up in reach for those animals who can jump up on the kitchen counter. While the food may smell great, canned pumpkin won’t be so good for their digestive tract. Instead, give your pets the benefits of pumpkin by feeding them ground up seeds to fight parasites and help get their bowels moving.

2. Turkey

Turkey is used in many kinds of treats, but most specifically dog treats. That’s why it's entirely safe to feed your dog turkey, but only if it's the lean meat with the skin removed. Avoid the dark meat and skin because of the high-fat content, which could upset their stomach.

3. Sweet Potato

Another staple of Thanksgiving food is the sweet potato, which could end up being baked, mashed, fried or all the above before the day is over. If your cat tries to help make your dinner, it’s okay to feed them a tiny bit — don't overdo it though. The sugar content is too high for their bodies to digest it correctly.

4. Vegetables

The vegetables that are okay for pets vary depending on their fiber content and how they’re grown. Before sharing the other half of your banana, check a list of safe vegetables to see what you can and can’t feed to your furry friend — but a general rule of thumb is that most clean, washed fruits and veggies are healthy for your pets.

5. Nuts

While you’re waiting for your dinner to finish cooking, you might want to snack on some nuts as an appetizer before your big meal begins. Sharing a few healthy and all-natural peanuts may be okay for your dog, but the high-fat content and oils will upset their stomachs, and some nuts like Macadamian can be deadly. Share only a little bit of basic peanuts at a time.

Five Foods to Avoid Feeding Fido

No matter how much it hurts your heart to deny your animals the food they crave so desperately, just remind yourself you could be taking months or years off their life if you feed them any of these five foods: 

1. Stuffing

A delicacy unlike almost any other holiday food, stuffing is many people’s favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal. However, since the side dish typically includes onion, which can lead to toxic anemia in pets, you shouldn’t feed it to your dog or cat. The bad news is you shouldn’t share it, but the good news is you get to keep more for yourself!

2. Ham

Avoid giving your dog any ham this year, since the high salt content can cause vomiting, lethargy or abnormal fluid accumulation. It’s easy to forget just how much salt is used to cure ham, but it contains an incredibly high amount of sodium that isn’t good for dogs. Cats, however, can eat it in small portions, but you should limit their intake, as well. The rich food could come as a shock to their system.

3. Garlic

Though it’s a versatile and enjoyable spice, garlic is incredibly toxic to dogs and cats. If you're going to be sharing any food with them on Thanksgiving, you need to know precisely how that food was prepared. Some dishes like garlic mashed potatoes will obviously have garlic in them, but sometimes it’s added as a powdered flavoring that isn’t as noticeable.

4. Chocolate

Chocolate is another one of those foods that’s so tasty we know our pets would love it, but feeding animals chocolate should be avoided at all costs. Not only will the caffeine in it cause reactions similar to if they had ingested lots of salt, but it also contains theobromine, which causes vomiting and muscle spasms. If your pet eats any chocolate, get their stomach pumped right away.

5. Onions

Dogs and cats lack some of the digestive enzymes that humans have, which means their body will continuously try to reject the alien substance in some foods instead of digest it. Onions are one of the top dangerous foods for pets for this exact reason. Never feed your pet anything that may contain or have been cooked with onions.


Thanksgiving is a time to sit down with everyone you love and think about all you have to be thankful for. It’s also a time to fill yourself up with fantastic foods and share a meal with your loved ones. This does include your pets — whether you want them begging at the kitchen table or not — but it doesn’t mean you should feed them everything on your plate.

Before sitting down at the table this year, learn what foods are safe for your pets to eat so you can avoid the ones that may harm them beyond repair. Just a few minutes of reading may help save your pets life and prevent any emergencies that would ruin the holiday be ruined.

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