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November 02, 2020 4 min read

The holidays are all about spending quality time with the ones you love, and that includes your pets! There’s nothing like cuddling up on the couch with your four-legged friend after a big Thanksgiving dinner. 

But why should you have all the fun? There’s no reason you can’t treat your furry friend to a special meal this November too. Just keep in mind that pets can’t eat all the same things humans can, and safety is paramount when it comes to feeding your dog or cat “human” food. 

So, without further ado, here are 5 essential Thanksgiving pet safety tips to keep your furry family members healthy and happy this November.

Can Pets Eat Turkey?

It’s no secret that dogs and cats love meat, and turkey is no exception. Whether or not it’s safe to give to them, however, is a bit more complicated than a simple yes or no.

Boneless, skinless, unseasoned turkey meat issafe to give to dogs and cats. In fact, because it’s a lean meat, it’s often used as a key ingredient in dog food. Turkey bones, however, are not safe and should not be given to pets. This goes for other types of poultry bones as well, like chicken and duck bones.

Poultry bones are prone to splintering, and the resulting fragments can cause an array of gastrointestinal issues, including tearing or puncturing of the digestive tract, blockages that need to be surgically removed, bacterial infections, and internal bleeding. Always remove the bones before giving turkey to your pets.

While you can give raw turkey to your dog or cat, cooked turkey is generally your safest bet to avoid bacterial issues like salmonella. Also be cautious about giving your pet pieces of turkey that are heavily seasoned or that have stuffing or skin on them. More on that later.

1. Keep a List of Toxic Foods

On Thanksgiving and year round, it’s always a good idea to maintain a list of human foods your pet can and can’t have. This makes feeding your dog or cat little scraps on holidays much easier, since you have a go-to list you know you can trust. 

Some foods that are toxic to animals are widely known about, while some are surprising. Keeping a list somewhere in your kitchen takes the guess-work out of it.

Here are a few foods you should avoid feeding your cat or dog to get you started:

  • Alcohol
  • Avocado
  • Chocolate
  • Caffeine
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus
  • Garlic
  • Grapes
  • Onions
  • Mushrooms
  • Peaches
  • Peanuts
  • Poultry bones
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Undercooked meat

RELATED50 Foods Dogs Can & Can't Eat

2. Stick to Small Pieces of Food

Every responsible pet owner wants to be careful not to give their cat or dog something that could be toxic. But it’s easy to be so focused on what kindsof human food your pet can or can’t eat on Thanksgiving that you lose track of the amountyou give them. 

It’s no secret that most humans overeat on Thanksgiving. This frequently leads to upset stomachs and difficulty digesting our food. Unfortunately, it’s just as easy for our furry friends to end up overeating, especially if they’re getting scraps from multiple cooks or guests. Try to only give your pet small pieces of food at a time and be mindful of who’s feeding your pet(s), how often, and how big the pieces are.

3. Skip the Skin and Stuffing

While small pieces of well-cooked, boneless turkey are okay to give your dog or cat as a treat, there are some very common ingredients in both turkey seasoning and stuffing that can be toxic. Any pieces of turkey you give your cat or dog to munch on should ideally be unseasoned, fully cooked, and free of any stray pieces of stuffing.

In fact, be cautious about giving your dog or cat anyThanksgiving food after it’s been seasoned, in addition to any dish that contains onions or onion powder. Onions are toxic to both cats and dogs, as they damage their red blood cells, and garlic is also toxic in large doses.

4. Avoid Giving Your Pet Turkey Bones

It can be tempting to throw your dog a few turkey bones to gnaw on during or after a big Thanksgiving meal. However, while pieces of boneless turkey are a nice snack, it’s recommended that you don’t feed your dog turkey bones.

Turkey bones are brittle, especially when cooked. This, combined with their small size, can pose serious health risks to your pet, including the following:

  • Injuries to the mouth, tongue, and gums
  • Choking
  • Throat or intestinal obstruction
  • Constipation
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Upset stomach, nausea, or vomiting

Vets generally recommend never giving your pet turkey bones or poultry bones of any kind. If you feed your dog scraps of turkey on Thanksgiving, make sure they don’t contain any stray pieces of bone, and if you notice any of the above symptoms, get your pet emergency care as quickly as possible.

Just because your pet shouldn’t eat turkey bones doesn’t mean you can’t still distract them with a delicious bone on Thanksgiving. Just make sure it’s safe to eat. Tough, chewy alternatives — like these bullysticks from BarknBig — are a yummy, distracting, and super safe option!

RELATED: Which Type of Dog Food is Best?

5. When in Doubt, Check With Your Vet

It’s never a bad idea to check with your pet’s care provider before you decide to feed them human food or change their diet. Especially if your cat or dog has an existing medical condition, like diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, or cancer, or if they’re overweight or obese, it’s better to be safe than sorry and check with your vet before you share any Thanksgiving treats with them.

The good news is that there are some Thanksgiving foods that are almost universally okay to give your cat or dog. Most fruits and vegetables are safe, delicious, and offer lots of good nutrients for your canine or feline friend. These include Thanksgiving staples like pumpkin, sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans, corn, and apples.

Looking for treats, toys, and other products to make your pet happy this holiday season?

The holidays are the perfect time to spoil your four-legged friend. From tasty turkey n’ yam dog meals to turkey plush toys, King Duke’s has all the supplies you need to give your pet a safe and memorable Thanksgiving.

Browse our selection online or visit our store in Beaverton, OR. Pets are always welcome!

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