How to Have a Pet-Friendly Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of the most treasured holidays in the United States—it’s also one of the busiest. Everything, from grocery shopping and food prepping to setting up home decorations and sending out invitations, needs careful planning. However, for pet parents, there are a few more things to consider.

Thanksgiving is a food-centered celebration and with most pets being avid eaters, it’s so easy for them to accidentally ingest something that they shouldn’t. On top of that, strangers going in and out of the household can lead to feelings of stress, anxiety, and discomfort to some pets.

We believe that pets are a part of the family and deserve to celebrate Thanksgiving alongside their owners, that’s why, to help ensure your pet’s safety throughout the celebration, we’ve put together a few useful tips.



Make a Do-Not-Feed List 

Most Thanksgiving foods are made for human consumption and contain ingredients that are highly toxic to pets, like the famous Turkey stuffing, which may contain raisins, garlic, or onions. Below are a few more foods and ingredients to watch out for and add to your Do-Not-Feed list.

Chocolate contains theobromine, which works similar to caffeine. Unlike humans, pets don’t have the ability to digest theobromine properly, meaning in large amounts, it can accumulate in their system and rise to toxic levels, causing severe health issues or even death.

Macadamia Nuts and Black Walnuts are known to cause health problems in animals, ranging from diarrhea and vomiting to complete loss of muscle control and coordination.

Grapes (together with raisins) are extremely toxic to pets. Even in small amounts, it can cause vomiting, kidney failure, and death, especially to small animals.

Nutmeg (according to PetMD) contains a substance called Myristicin, which is toxic to pets. In large amounts, it can cause abdominal pain, hallucinations, high blood pressure, and sometimes even seizures.

Chives (together with onions and garlic) are known to destroy red blood cells in pets, causing severe anemia which can lead to death.

Gravy, Butter, and Other Fatty Foods can cause stomach problems, like diarrhea.

Turkey bones and skin are a huge no-no! Turkey bones, when cooked, become brittle and splinter in your pet’s throat and digestive tract, which is very dangerous. Turkey skin, on the other hand, is very fatty and contains a lot of absorbed spices, which can cause digestive issues and even pancreatitis or inflammation of the pancreas.

We suggest sharing your Do-Not-Feed list to your guests to keep them from unknowingly feeding your pet unsafe table foods.


Separate Your Pet When Cooking

When cooking and preparing food, it’s best to keep your pet in a separate area. If you separating them isn’t an option, then you can simply have someone look after them until you finish everything.

Turkey stuffing, spices, and uncooked fruits and vegetables can be very dangerous. If your pet accidentally swallows a raw pumpkin or potato, it can become lodged in their throat and cause choking.


When You Eat, They Eat

To prevent incessant begging from your pet once you’ve sat down to dig into your Thanksgiving dinner, feed them at the same time your guests sit down to eat. If your pet is a fast eater, then you can put their food in a slow feeder or a puzzle bowl to slow them down. You can check out a few of our favorites here!

To make your pet’s meal a bit more special, you can prepare a few pet-safe, Thanksgiving-inspired treats, like peanut butter pumpkin biscuits or turkey meatballs.


Prepare an “Anxiety Room”

If your pet isn’t particularly keen on having guests over, especially noisy kids or people they’ve never met before, they can start feeling anxious and act out by barking or even darting out the door. You know your pet best and if you believe that this is a possibility, you can prepare a room for them, away from all the commotion. Put their dog bed inside, together with their favorite toys, some dog treats, and a clean bowl of water.


Prevent Escape

With all the people going in and out the door during Thanksgiving, there’s plenty of opportunity for your pet slip through. To prevent this from happening, make sure that you leash your pet or keep them in a separate room while guests arrive or leave. It’s also a good idea to get them microchipped if they aren’t already, or at least a tag with your contact information in case they do manage to escape.


Keep Leftovers Out of Reach

After your Thanksgiving meal, make sure to take all the plates, especially ones with half-eaten food, straight to the sink to keep your pet from getting to them. Scrape all inedible leftover food into plastic bags and throw them in the trash. Make sure that the trash bin is securely closed and can’t be opened or knocked over by your pet. For edible leftovers, store them somewhere that’s inaccessible to your pet, like the fridge.


We hope you found these tips helpful! We wish you a happy, pet-friendly Thanksgiving!