Thanksgiving Food Safety for Pets

It’s that time of year when we get together with the family and friends that we are so thankful for, and of course, this includes our four-legged family members! On Thanksgiving Day, we like to show our love through amazing food. We certainly want to include our pets in this special day and many people want to give furry family members a little bite of Thanksgiving table scraps. Is it any wonder that Black Friday is one of the busiest days for vets seeing dogs with digestion and pancreatitis issues?

Many of the foods that we enjoy can be upsetting or even deadly for our pets, so it’s important to use caution when we spoil them on Thanksgiving. While a few raw vegetables and fruits, like carrots or seedless apple slices, and bits of lean meat are fine to share with our pets, fatty or sugary foods are hard for dogs’ digestive systems to handle. Pancreatitis is especially common in dogs that are given fatty foods like buttery cookies or fatty turkey skin, and many dogs end up at the vet with acute pancreatitis as a result of Thanksgiving treats. It is important to make sure that your dog doesn’t get a hold of any fatty table scraps on purpose or on accident during Thanksgiving. If your pup has digestive issues, consider lean turkey tendon chews or freeze-dried pumpkin cubes as a safe alternative to fatty table scraps to share in the Thanksgiving tradition.

While regular sugar can be tough to digest, non-sugar sweeteners can be toxic to dogs and cats. Xylitol is a natural sweetener that is found in many human foods like chewing gum, peanut butter, and many desserts. Xylitol can cause seizures and dangerously severe hypoglycemia in dogs who eat even a small amount. We want to treat our dogs with the same things that we enjoy, but it’s important for their safety that we be conscious of their specific needs when we spoil them. Before sharing sweet treats, always check the label.

The turkey or ham bones might seem like fair game for dogs on Thanksgiving, but most vets discourage this. Cooked bones are much more brittle than the smoked or raw bones intended for dogs, and they can splinter into sharp pieces leading to internal injuries or blocked intestines. Giving dogs a bone on Thanksgiving can be a great way to show some love and keep them from begging during dinner, just do so safely by choosing a dog-specific smoked or raw marrow bone instead of a cooked turkey leg.

Other table foods that you want to avoid giving dogs are any that include dairy. Most dogs (and cats) love dairy products but are actually lactose-intolerant. That scoop of whipped cream or creamy gravy will make your puppy’s tummy very uncomfortable later on. Other foods like grapes, raisins, any fruit seeds or pits, or chocolate in any form can be dangerous to your pet. These foods in small amounts will upset your dog’s stomach and can be toxic in larger servings.

Our pets deserve some extra love on the day we celebrate how thankful we are to have them in our lives, and there are a lot of safe ways to do so. A special marrow bone or turkey tendon chew is a great way to spoil your puppy and keep them busy while you cook and celebrate. You can also pick up a special canned turkey dinner that is dog-approved at your Kahoots store with some pumpkin cookies and dog ice-cream for dessert!

By Julia Tunnell, Kahooligan at Kahoots East Escondido

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