Written by Ella White
When the holidays roll around, one of the things we most look forward to is the family feasts. And since our furry friends are just as much members of the family as our human relatives, we can’t blame you for wanting to get them involved.
But when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, there are some dishes that dogs can enjoy, and others that should be kept well away from begging eyes – at the risk of ruining dinnertime for everyone.
Here, we’ll look at our 12 favorite Thanksgiving foods and explain which ones dogs can enjoy, and which they can’t.
When roasted with no seasoning and removed from the bone, turkey is healthy for dogs. As well as being a great source of animal protein, turkey is packed with beneficial vitamins and minerals that are great for dogs.
But at Thanksgiving, we like to season our meats with butter, salt, pepper, garlic, onion, and other flavorful ingredients that are toxic to dogs. So if you’re planning on slipping some to your pet, make sure to cook a separate, unseasoned bird rather than slipping them potentially-toxic scraps from the table.
Though they might not seem like an obvious treat for dogs, potatoes are actually okay for our four-legged friends in strict moderation – though they don’t hold much nutritional value. Like turkey, though, they cannot be cooked or prepared using any seasoning. Potatoes that are boiled in unsalted water and mashed without the addition of seasonings, milk, or butter, are perfectly healthy for dogs.
But since your Thanksgiving mash is probably packed with delicious flavors like creamy butter, it’s best to avoid feeding any to your pup, unless you hold an unseasoned bowl aside just for them.
As long as they’re prepared plain and cooked without salt, all kinds of green beans are healthy for dogs. Steam them, boil them, roast them, feed them raw – keep the oil, butter, and seasonings away and your dogs will love them.
Green beans are rich in vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber and make a healthy snack for dogs all year round, not just at the holidays.
Like green beans, Brussel sprouts offer plentiful health benefits for dogs as they’re packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other goodness. They’ve even been proven to help diabetic and obese dogs as they’re rich in antioxidants and can act as an antiinflammatory.
Also like green beans, Brussel sprouts only maintain their healthy properties as long as they’re boiled or steamed without salt, and no seasoning is added once they’re cooked. In their natural state, sprouts contain no toxins and are little balls of goodness for dogs. But once they’re cooked from human plates, some ingredients that dogs should avoid are often added.
Before your four legged friend is fed a bowl full of sprouts, remember they’re a cruciferous vegetable. And whilst they’re super healthy, they can have an unfortunate gassy side effect if too many are consumed at once.
Roasted carrots are healthy for dogs as long as they’re not coated in oil, butter, salt, pepper or any other seasonings. So if you want to serve some up for your pup this Thanksgiving, be sure to roast them unseasoned in a separate tray to your own delicious, crispy roasted carrots.
Carrots are rich in vitamins that can improve your dog’s physical, mental, and immune health. They are especially good for dogs when served raw or boiled without salt, so if you want to save time and space in the oven, there’s no need to cook up a whole portion just for your dog. They’ll enjoy them even more when they’re crunchy and raw.
Boiled or mashed sweet potato that’s cooked – you guessed it – without salt, oil, or any other seasonings can be super healthy for your dog. They’re full of iron, potassium, and vitamins A, B, and C and can make a great snack as long as they’re peeled and fully cooked. Raw sweet potatoes can cause intestinal blockage, and the skins make them even harder to digest.
At Thanksgiving, you’re probably turning your sweet potatoes into delicious roasted chunks or fries, or mashing it with plenty of butter and seasoning. So like your mashed potato, make sure you keep some unseasoned sweet potato aside if you want to serve it up for your dog.
If you’re cooking yams and adding marshmallows, make sure your dog doesn’t get anywhere near them. It’s really common to find xylitol in marshmallows which is incredibly toxic to dogs.
Peeled and deseeded butternut squash can be served raw, steamed, or boiled to dogs as a healthy snack. Like other veg, it’s packed with vitamins and minerals that contribute to the all-round health of your dog when served as part of a varied diet.
If you’re cooking up some squash for Thanksgiving and want your dog to get in on the fun, set aside a portion that you can boil without salt, or even serve raw, to prevent any upset stomachs.
For us humans, mac and cheese is one of the most exciting parts of a Thanksgiving dinner. Creamy, indulgent, and comforting, it’s the food of childhood that we never quite grow out of. And though dogs are allowed to eat hard cheeses, the fats and flavorings that are melted into this delicious dish unfortunately make it very unhealthy for dogs.
So don’t risk a trip to the vet or any nasty stomach issues interrupting your family holiday. Avoid serving your dog mac and cheese altogether. And don’t feel bad about it – they’ll never know what they’re missing!
Almost all stuffings contain salt, fat, onion, and garlic which are toxic to dogs. So we’ll get straight to the point and say that this delicious addition to roast dinners should always be kept away from your dog’s plate.
Gravy is made from meat drippings, thickener, and other seasonings which are very unhealthy for dogs. High levels of fat and sodium can cause upset stomachs, weight gain, and if your gravy contains onions or garlic it could result in a trip to the vet thanks to poisoning.
Dogs won’t mind eating their Thanksgiving dinner ‘dry’ without lashings of gravy. But if you really want to add something as an alternative, an unseasoned bone broth prepared especially for your dog and with all bones carefully removed could act as a healthy substitute.
Plain cranberries make a healthy snack for dogs when fed in moderation. But when they’re cooked with sugar and other sweeteners to become cranberry sauce, their nutritional benefits are overridden by the high sugar levels.
Sugar can lead to weight gain and upset stomachs in dogs, and some cranberry sauce recipes include toxins like raisins and currants. So it’s best to avoid it altogether and serve up their Thanksgiving plate without condiments.
Pecan nuts are toxic to dogs so any desserts or other dishes that contain them should be kept well out of reach. On top of the nuts, pecan pies are full of sugar, sweeteners, and other ingredients that will cause stomach upset in dogs.
The best way to enjoy Thanksgiving with your dog without the risk of sickness? Keep dessert for humans only. Don’t worry, your dog isn’t missing out, they don’t have the same taste buds we do.
Noticing a theme here? Foods that are high in fats, like oil and butter, sodium, like salt, and toxins like alliums, can’t be eaten by dogs. But they’re all additional ingredients that can simply be held back from your dog’s portion, if you’re extra keen that they join in with Thanksgiving dinner.
Because most of the foods we eat at Thanksgiving are healthy for dogs when boiled or served raw, the best way to get them involved in the festivities is to serve up their own plate that’s prepared separately from the human portions. It’s a little extra effort, but it will save on any trips to the vet as a result of accidentally ingesting toxins or other ingredients that can upset their stomach.
And don’t forget to remind your guests: even the most irresistible of puppy dog eyes shouldn’t be served table scraps or leftovers!
Happy Thanksgiving from Front of the Pack!