8 min read

Thanksgiving Food for Dogs: Do’s, Don’ts, and Dog-Safe Recipes

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Overview

Many pet parents are understandably apprehensive about letting their pets join in the Thanksgiving feast since many holiday foods are toxic to pets. That doesn’t mean your pup has to sit out Thanksgiving dinner — just that you have to be mindful of what food you serve (and how you serve it).

Planning to include your pup in this year’s festivities? You’re in the right place! We’ll cover all things related to Thanksgiving food and dogs, including the do’s and don’ts, plus some dog-safe recipes you can make to help Fido feel included.

infographic describing which thanksgiving foods are safe for dogs and which thanksgiving foods dogs should avoid

What Thanksgiving foods should dogs avoid?

It's hard enough to ignore your dog's sweet, hungry, and downright tortured "begging face" during a typical dinner, but it's even harder on Thanksgiving when we're filling our plates high with delicious-smelling goodies.

While some of your leftovers can add much-appreciated protein and vegetables to their diet, there is also danger lurking at the table. Here's a quick look at which Thanksgiving foods are not safe for dogs:

  • Turkey skin
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Leeks
  • Shallots
  • Scallions
  • Cooked bones
  • Alcohol
  • Nuts
  • Desserts
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Glazed dishes
  • Sugar
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Raw bread dough

Read on to learn why you should avoid feeding your dog these Thanksgiving dishes and ingredients.

Turkey skin  

While turkey meat is a wonderful treat for your pet, make sure to leave off the skin. Due to its high fat content, turkey skin is hard for dogs to digest and can lead to complications like pancreatitis. Turkey skin may also be seasoned with spices that aren't safe for dogs, like onion and garlic.

Onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, and scallions

Any vegetables in the allium family should be avoided. While they're usually okay in small amounts, ingesting large quantities can lead to severe problems like toxic anemia.

You should also avoid giving your dog any dishes containing these ingredients, like stuffing, dressing, and garlic mashed potatoes.

Cooked bones

While your pup can chew on raw bones all day long, cooked bones present a bit of danger. Due to their soft nature, they commonly splinter and can easily lodge in your pet's throat, causing them to choke.

Alcohol

Yes, it seems like an obvious no-no, but it's easy to get carried away with the holiday spirit and let your pet have a few sips here and there. Even the smallest amounts of alcohol can be toxic to dogs. This also applies to alcohol used in baked goods, such as the rum baked into a fruit cake.  

Nuts

A good saying to keep in mind is, "You'd need to be nuts to feed your pet nuts." Even just a few nuts can cause dogs to go into toxic shock.

Nuts that you should avoid feeding your dog include:

(You can, however, feed your dog peanuts, cashews, and pistachios without the shell, in moderation.)  

Desserts 

You may be tempted to pass your dog a slice of pumpkin pie, but it’s best to save this fall dish for your human guests. Most fall treats — like candy, cakes, and pies — have too much added sugar for your dog.

Some varieties of candy and gum also contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener that's extremely toxic to dogs. If you really want your dog to enjoy a sweet treat with you, try offering a small dish of homemade whipped cream.

Cranberry sauce & glazed dishes

Cranberry sauce is very high in added sugar and should not be shared with your dog. The same goes for any other holiday side dishes which may have an added sugary glaze, like glazed carrots or ham.

Sugar and artificial sweeteners

Avoid foods made with sugar and artificial sweeteners. Large amounts of sugar can cause a dog's blood glucose levels to go out of wack and make them more likely to become overweight.

Artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols like xylitol are incredibly poisonous to dogs, even in minimal amounts. Xylitol can trigger a life-threatening reaction within 10 minutes of consumption. 

Chocolate

Theobromine in chocolate can cause strain on a canine's heart and can even be deadly in high doses. The amount of theobromine that chocolate contains depends on the manufacturer and type of chocolate, so you never know how it could affect your pup.

Raw bread dough

Keep raw bread dough out of your dog’s reach. When ingested, raw bread dough ferments rapidly, releasing carbon dioxide gas and ethanol in the stomach, which can cause severe bloating and alcohol toxicity. 

Large thanksgiving spread with a roasted turkey and various side dishes

Which Thanksgiving foods are okay for dogs in moderation?

Many dogs love holiday gatherings, because there’s a good chance someone will be slipping them some snacks under the table. Before you sit down to enjoy your favorite fall meals, make sure you and your guests know what’s safe to share with your dog. Below are some dog-safe foods that you can feel good about giving your woofer.

Here's a quick look at the Thanksgiving foods that are generally safe for dogs in moderation:

  • Turkey meat
  • Fresh cranberries
  • Apples
  • Bread/rolls
  • Carrots
  • Pumpkin
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Peas
  • Green beans
  • Squash
  • Eggs
  • Oats
  • Brown rice
  • Spinach
  • All-natural peanut butter

Read on to learn how these dishes and ingredients can benefit your pup's health, plus some tips for serving them safely.

Turkey     

Baked turkey is an excellent source of protein and healthy fats for pupperinos, but certain parts of your Thanksgiving turkey can cause a host of problems. Poultry bones are brittle and pointy and can get lodged in the digestive tract. Only give your pups turkey meat without bones.

Cranberries 

Fresh cranberries are fine to give to your dog, although most pups dislike the bitter taste! As we mentioned above, avoid giving your dog any cranberry sauce, which is typically loaded with sugar.

Apples       

Apple slices make a great snack for hungry doggos! Try dipping slices of apple in peanut butter for an extra tasty treat your dog will go nuts for. 

And while many pet care websites are quick to caution pet parents about the dangers of apple seeds, the truth is that your dog would need to eat a lot of crushed apple seeds to experience any toxic effects. Still, it’s best not to feed your dog the apple core, which can cause obstructions if swallowed whole. 

Bread/rolls

It’s safe for your pup to have a small piece of bread or roll as long as it's fully cooked and doesn’t contain any toxic ingredients like garlic, onions, or raisins

Carrots 

Raw, boiled, or roasted carrots are all fantastic (and healthy!) treats for hungry puppos. Just make sure there’s nothing added in, like glazes or flavorings. 

Pumpkin     

Adding pumpkin to your dog's diet has many benefits. When baking for Thanksgiving, save a few scoops of 100% pure, cooked pumpkin for Fido. You could also use leftover pumpkin to make fall-inspired dog treats! Avoid giving your dog any canned pumpkin pie filling, which often contains toxic ingredients, like nutmeg.

Sweet potatoes    

Sweet potatoes are a great complex carb and are full of vitamins (and flavor!). This starchy tuber is even considered one of the best foods for dogs with digestive problems. Just avoid toppings like marshmallows and butter. Serve them in moderation, because too much can upset sensitive tummies. 

Peas 

Another protein-rich food that dogs can eat on Thanksgiving, peas boast an incredible nutrient profile and are chock full of vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, and phytonutrients. Green peas, snow peas, and English peas all get the vet seal of approval for their high levels of vitamins and minerals.  

Peas aren’t recommended for dogs with kidney problems, though, because they contain purine, which is hard on the kidneys.

Green beans 

Unseasoned green beans are another holiday delicacy that doggies can dine on. Raw, roasted, and low-sodium canned green beans are all suitable for canines.

Squash 

Spaghetti, acorn, summer, and butternut squash are all safe foods to offer your woofer. What’s more, each variety has unique vitamin and mineral profiles to nourish your pup. 

Eggs  

Eggs are a super nutrient-dense food, and almost all dogs enjoy them. One large egg packs a whopping 6 grams of protein and a mere 70 calories, making it a great choice of treat for health conscious pups. Avoid giving your dog deviled eggs, which often contain ingredients that can cause stomach upset, like salt and paprika.

Oats 

Oats are a terrific source of fatty acids and vitamins for our canine companions, but that’s not all. They’re also high in fiber, which can help with digestion and keep your pet feeling full for longer. 

Brown rice 

Brown rice can (and should!) be a healthy part of your pet’s diet. In fact, many vets recommend it for stomach upset! Brown rice is easy on the stomach, helps pets feel satiated, and is a great source of B vitamins. 

Spinach

Spinach is one of the healthiest foods a dog can eat since it contains a slew of vitamins, minerals, and compounds and has a negligible calorie content (just 7 calories per 30 grams).

Peanut butter    

Peanut butter is a great source of energy since it contains a hearty dose of protein and fat. But be mindful of how much you’re giving your pet since too much can cause weight gain or blood sugar spikes. It’s also important to avoid sugar-free peanut butter made with xylitol since this is extremely toxic to dogs.



6 dog-friendly Thanksgiving recipes

Want to make a tasty Turkey day treat for Tucker? Try these simple dog-safe recipes!


Sweet potato chewies

Ingredients: 2 sweet potatoes

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Peel your sweet potatoes and then cut them into french fry shapes. Place the potato sticks on a parchment-lined cookie sheet in a single layer. Roast the potatoes for 3 hours until golden and chewy.

person holding chihuahua dog next to a thanksgiving turkey loaf dish for dogs

Turkey and vegetable doggy loaf

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground or chopped turkey
  • ½ cup pre-cooked brown rice
  • ½ a sweet potato
  • ¼ cup fresh cranberries
  • ½ of a zucchini
  • ½ cup green beans
  • ½ cup of spinach
  • 2 tbsp minced parsley
  • 2 tbsp turmeric powder
  • 3 eggs
  • coconut oil for greasing

Instructions:   

Cook the rice according to the package directions and let cool. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, then puree in a blender. Use enough coconut oil to grease a baking pan and transfer the mixture to the pan. Finally, bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until solid and cooked through. Slice, serve, and enjoy! The doggy loaf can be frozen for up to 6 months.

Crispy roasted green beans  

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw green beans
  • 1 tablespoon of melted coconut oil

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the green beans into 1-inch pieces and toss in a bowl with melted coconut oil. Lay the green beans flat on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes, turning once midway through.

person holding a brown chihuahua dog sniffing at a bowl of homemade peanut butter dog treats

No-bake pumpkin peanut butter balls

Ingredients:  

  • ¼ cup pure pumpkin puree (no sugar or artificial ingredients added)
  • 3 cups oats
  • ½ cup natural peanut butter (no xylitol)
  • ¼ cup coconut milk

Instructions:   

Reserve half of a cup of oats. Then, place all other ingredients and the rest of the oats in a large bowl, then mix. Next, portion out the treats with a mini scoop and form it into a ball. Roll the balls in the remaining oats and place them on a baking sheet in the fridge. Let chill until firm, then enjoy. The pumpkin peanut butter balls can be frozen for up to 6 months.

Cheesy canine crisps 

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup mild cheddar cheese shreds
  • 3 ½ cups whole wheat flour 
  • ½ cup low-sodium green beans (canned)
  • 1 ¼ cups low-sodium beef broth
  • ¼ cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Instructions:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix the grated cheese with the dry ingredients. Blend or mash the beans in a separate dish. Pour in the wet ingredients and the oil into the mashed beans. Form a hole in the middle of the cheese and flour mixture and pour the wet mix inside. Work the dough with clean hands until it's uniform in consistency. 

Dust your work surface with flour, and continue to fold and knead the dough until firm. Use a rolling pin to flatten the dough until uniform in thickness. Cut with cookie cutters. Spray a baking sheet with cooking oil spray and put the crisps on the sheet. Brush the tops of the crisps with beef stock and bake for 30 minutes. The crisps store wonderfully for up to 6 months in the freezer.  

A serving board with food and text reading Happy Thanksgiving in the center

Happy Turkey Day from all of us at Wag!

From the Wag! family to yours, we hope you make beautiful memories with your furry (and not-so-furry) family this Thanksgiving!


More ways to keep your fur-babies safe this Thanksgiving

Sharing your Thanksgiving feast with all your fur-babies? Check out our related guides on Thanksgiving safety:

Got more questions about what your dog can and can't eat this Thanksgiving? Use Wag! Vet Chat to get answers fast from real veterinary professionals.



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