Thanksgiving is a special time of gathering with loved ones, with pets being no exception in sharing special moments we share with family and friends. While pets can certainly partake in festivities, there are a few precautions that should be considered when it comes to the feast and gatherings to ensure your pet’s safety this holiday season.

Food Safety Tips

When it comes to the Thanksgiving feast, a general rule of thumb is that it’s better to keep the feast on the table rather than under it. While some foods can be okay in moderation for pets, here are some of the foods you definitely want to avoid passing down to pets at the table.

1. Skip the turkey, including the bones.

While plain cooked turkey can be beneficial to a pet’s diet, seasoned turkey, including the skin, is best to be avoided by our pets who can experience irritation in their digestive tract from fatty foods. Aside from possibly becoming lodged in the intestines if swallowed, like fatty foods, turkey bones can upset your pet’s digestive tract as well. In a worst-case scenario, this could lead to inflammation of the pancreas, a potentially life-threatening condition known as pancreatitis.


2. Stuffing, casserole, and mashed potatoes likely won’t sit well with your furry friend.

While our mouths may be watering at the thought of these foods, these side dishes often contain herbs or vegetables that are toxic to our pets, such as garlic, onions, chives, or leeks.

3. Keep the sweets to yourself.

Not only do common desserts at the holidays contain chocolate, which is toxic to dogs and cats, but many baked goods also contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener that can cause a dangerous drop in blood sugar or even liver failure in dogs.

4. Bread dough is a no-no.

Like many other foods on this list, yeast bread dough can cause potentially dangerous bloating. If you’re making bread from scratch this Thanksgiving, make sure your pets can’t get ahold of it while it’s rising!

5. Grapes and raisins should be avoided at all costs.

Even in small amounts, grapes and raisins are extremely toxic for pets and can even lead to kidney failure.


If you’re worried that Fluffy may have gotten into the scraps from dinner, it’s best to know the signs of food poisoning to take the proper course of action. If you notice your pet is showing symptoms of weakness or lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive panting and salivation, or any other unusual behaviors, it is best to call your veterinarian immediately. Phone hotlines are also available should you need a backup plan, such as the ASPCA Animal Poison Control at 888-426-4435. (These hotlines may charge for their services, so a consultation fee may apply.)

The bottom line is while it may be tempting to share your Thanksgiving meal with your pet, it may be life-saving to avoid giving them your scraps. If you still want to include your pet in festivities, why not prep a special meal just for them using safe ingredients such as pumpkin or carrots? We’re sure they will thank you and feel so excited to eat a dinner prepared safely just for them!

Other Ways to Keep Your Pets Safe during the Holidays

While food safety is a major concern during the holidays, there are other proactive measures you can take to keep your pet safe during your festivities with guests.

1. Be cautious with decorative plants that may be toxic to pets, such as hydrangeas, Baby’s Breath, poinsettias, and more.

It is generally best to keep pets away from all plants and table decorations in the home when possible.

2. Watch the exits, and maximize your pet’s ability to be identified should they go missing.

When guests are entering and exiting the home, make sure your pet is in a safe place where they won’t escape. Also, identification tags and microchips with up-to-date information are the greatest ways to ensure your pet will get back home should they get lost. If you’re not sure if your pet’s microchip information is up to date, you can always contact the company your microchip is registered through to be sure.

3. If your pet struggles with anxiety around new people, try letting them decompress in an enclosed space with a favorite toy or treat.

The reality is not every animal loves being in the company of guests, and that’s perfectly okay. Allowing your pet to de-stress by themselves with food or toys can be a great way to allow them to feel as relaxed as possible while you tend to guests.

4. Avoid leaving your pet alone in your vehicle, and ensure they are safely restrained while traveling.

Using a secure harness or pet carrier can help protect your pet while on the road.

5. Can’t take your pet with you while you travel? Make sure your pet is up-to-date on their vaccines if you are considering boarding.

Boarding kennels can be a hot spot for contagious diseases, so it is crucial to prioritize your pet’s health by ensuring they have received vital vaccinations.

Nothing is worse than worrying about the safety and health of your pet, but fortunately, implementing these courses of action during the holidays can help you ensure your pet’s well-being so you can enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday in peace. Moreover, it is important to remember to have fun while allowing your pets to enjoy themselves, too. The holidays are meant to be for everyone, and no matter how you choose to celebrate, we hope these tips can help you gain a peace of mind for your furry friends’ safety.