All animals Extras

Pets and Thanksgiving

The weather is colder, leaves litter the ground, and stores are busier as people get their turkeys and the trimmings. All of which indicates Thanksgiving is right around the corner. And whereas it’s a time of feasting with family and friends, you have to consider your pets and Thanksgiving, like what treats, if any, you give them.

Also, some of you will stay home and spend the holiday with family at your own homes. While others will travel. But what about your pets? Do you board them or take them with you? Below are some tips to keep your pets safe and hopefully stress-free this Thanksgiving.

Pets and Thanksgiving Food Risks

First, I’m going to cover foods to avoid giving your pets, like dogs and cats. Although, if you have a bunny, check this out for a list of things to avoid, as well as treats that are safe. So don’t give your pets:

rectangular casserole on pot holder
Photo by Maksim Goncharenok on

Don’t give fatty foods (ex, turkey skin, gravy, and casseroles) to your cats and dogs, even if they beg, because those foods can lead to pancreatitis.

white cat drinking in a cup next to a plate of grapes
Photo by cottonbro on

The stuffing could contain raisins or grapes, let alone the other ingredients. And if your fur baby eats any, it can cause kidney failure in cats and dogs.

Also, while we can eat onions and garlic, they’re toxic to your pets.

close up photo of an orange cat near chocolate cake
Photo by Anna Bokova on

Don’t let your pet have chocolate or raw eggs from cake or cookie batter. And avoid letting them have desserts which could contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener found in chewing gum, because it’s toxic to your fur babies.

bread dough and rolling pin on floured surface
Photo by Skitterphoto on

Uncooked yeast ferments the carbohydrates in bread dough, producing carbon dioxide and ethanol. When your pet eats raw dough, it continues this process in their stomach. And your fur baby becomes muddled, bloated, and has impaired coordination, the result of alcohol poisoning.

people eating Thanksgiving meal at a table
Photo by cottonbro on

Poultry bones are small and brittle, making them especially dangerous to your cats and dogs. Whether the bones break or not, they can get stuck in your pets’ GI tracts. Or break a tooth, perforate their intestines, or cause an intestinal blockage. None of which are good, and all would require a vet visit.

mixed flock of chickens in a yard

If, on the other hand, you have backyard chickens and want to get rid of that turkey carcass, go on ahead and give it to them. It won’t bother them one bit. Actually, any leftovers you have, except dessert, should be fine. They’ll eat it all. See this for more details on what your backyard birds can or can’t have.

Thanksgiving Treats that are Safe for Pets

If you’re disposed to feed a feast to your pet, first there are a couple of requirements. DON’T substitute treats for their regular food. And a good rule of thumb to follow is to give your pet no more than 10% of their daily caloric needs.

close up photo of dog treats
Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on

For instance, our dog Sophie weighs 30 lbs, and her daily caloric intake is ~600. So we shouldn’t give her treats in excess of 60 calories. Thus, her total treats shouldn’t be more than 60 calories combined.

But for your pets on Thanksgiving, you can either buy them their own special treat, or you can offer them:

  • turkey
person serving turkey with silver fork and knife on white ceramic plate
Photo by RODNAE Productions on

This is perfectly safe as long as it’s cooked, boneless and unseasoned turkey meat.

  • sweet potato
slice sweet potato
Photo by Ela Haney on

Again, so long as this is a plain sweet potato, without the casserole, your pet will be ok. However, only let them have a little bit.

  • cranberries
bowl of fresh cranberries
Photo by Jessica Lynn Lewis on

You can give your pets fresh, plain cranberries in moderation. Though canned cranberry sauce is too sweet to give to them, while dried cranberries often have added sugar. Although, your fur baby might not eat plain, fresh cranberries, so try cooking them (without sugar) and combine them with pumpkin.

  • apples
sliced green apple on brown wooden surface
Photo by Jessica Lynn Lewis on

Apples are a great snack for your fur baby, but again, moderation is key. And be sure the pieces aren’t a choking risk, and remove the seeds and core.

  • pumpkin
can of Libby's canned pumpkin on a countertop

Canned pumpkin is better than fresh pumpkin, because it’s cooked and has a higher concentration of fiber. But, if you get canned pumpkin, make certain it’s NOT pumpkin pie filling.

  • green beans
green beans in a white ceramic bowl on the ground
Photo by Zeynep Sena Açar on

Both cats and dogs can have plain, green beans. However, cats need their veggies cooked since they lack an adequate way to break down plant cell walls.

Veterinarian or vet tech examining a German Shepherd dog on a clinic table
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on

***If you think your pet has eaten something on the ‘Do Not Eat’ list, call you vet or a local clinic ASAP. Signs of pain/suffering include an immediate change in behavior, lethargy, pain, vomiting, or loose stools.

Pets and Company at Thanksgiving

adorable husky with its head resting on tabletop
Photo by Pixabay on

Even if you have the calmest fur baby in the world, there’s still a lot to look out for and to be aware of when mixing guests and pets. Below are some tips for your pets to have an anxiety-free time.

  • Guests can stress our pets
gray dwarf lop eared rabbit in shoebox lid under a bed
When we have company, our cats hide in our bedrooms. And when we had Mabel, our bunny, he would also hide in my room, but under the bed.

Both cats and dogs experience stress when company visits their homes, however it’s for different reasons. Dogs are territorial, while cats don’t like things happening outside of the routine. But, if you’re already aware that your pet is nervous with a crowd, then put them in a separate room, closed off from access to guests, with some toys.

calico kitten in large crate with a bowl and toy
Photo by SplitShire on

Or you could put your pet in a crate with their favorite toy, if you think someone might disturb them, to protect your guests. If your fur baby is very upset by company, talk to your vet about alternative solutions to this issue.

  • Pets can stress out our guests
red blue and green parrot
Photo by Rodolfo Clix on

Just as our pets can get anxious by strangers in their home, our company can get nervous around our pets. Or the types of pets we keep, and exotic pets are no exception. So keep your company and exotic animals firmly away from each other.

With that in mind, if any of your guests are immune-compromised or pregnant, inform them about any and all pets, especially any exotics you may have.

  • Mind the doors
selective close up photography of brown dog looking up
Photo by Simon Robben on

If your pets get on well with company, this is even more important, because in the confusion of people coming and going, your pet can step out the door with no one the wiser.

  • ID tag and microchip your pets
dog in collar with ID tags in sunlight
Photo by Blue Bird on

Be sure that your fur baby has the most up-to-date identification, especially a microchip with current, registered information. That way, in the event they do manage to get out, they’re more likely to be reunited with you. If your pet isn’t microchipped, talk to your vet about it.

  • Watch your pet around decorations and plants
mixture of tropical plants by a picture window with lamp in background

Don’t leave your pet alone with a burning candle, because accidents happen, and it could lead to a fire. Also, when it comes to decorating with plants, there are many that are harmful to pets. So it’s best to keep all plants and table decorations away from your fur babies.

Traveling with Your Pet at Thanksgiving

sable and white Shetland sheepdog in driver's seat of car

Now if you’re traveling with your pet, there are other things you need to take care of, such as:

  • making sure your fur baby’s vaccinations are up-to-date.
  • restraining your pet while driving, either in their carrier or a secure harness.
  • and finally, never leave your pet alone in the car.

If you’re like me, with 20-something backyard birds, 5 or 6 ducks, 3 cats, one that’s still intact and lives in the house, and 1 female dog, who’s also still intact and lives in the house, you might be trapped to your home. And thus, pets, because they all have a lot of different requirements.

But it’s ok, because I love them. However, I’d like to hear about you and your pets around the holidays. What do you do? Do you take your pets with you or do you board them? Or get a neighbor to keep an eye on things?

Thanks for stopping by! If you like this post, please like it, post a comment, and share it!



I breed pure Black Ameraucana chickens and Easter Eggers that are Black Ameraucana mixed with either Cuckoo Maran or Barred Rock. And I donate eggs to people or organizations in need.

One reply on “Pets and Thanksgiving”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s