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Dog Thanksgiving Dinner – Do’s & Don’ts, Safety Tips & FAQs

Written by Jay
BsC (Hons) Animal Behaviour & Welfare graduate with a passion for advocating for misunderstood animals.
Published on
Saturday 26 September 2020
Last updated on
Tuesday 9 May 2023
dog thanksgiving dinner
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No Thanksgiving celebration is complete without a Thanksgiving dinner for dogs. But which foods are safe for your pooch, and which foods should be avoided? Can you share your leftovers with your dog? Certain types of meat, side dishes, and seasonings are not suitable for your pooch, no matter how longingly they stare at your plate as you eat your meal.

As well as keeping your dog Thanksgiving dinner safe, it is also important to keep in mind your dog’s physical safety too. While the holidays are a time of celebration and excitement for humans, they can be overwhelming and stressful for our furry friends. What safety precautions can you take to protect your pooch?

Are Traditional Thanksgiving Dishes Safe for Dogs?

While preparing your own Thanksgiving dinner, it is only natural as a pet parent to wonder if you can share your delicious food with your dog. Some foods are safe and even healthy for dogs, including plain turkey, organic pumpkin, and corn off the cob!


Turkey meat is not toxic to dogs, and as long as it is given as plain, white meat, it is a safe and tasty treat for most dogs. In fact, it’s an ingredient in several commercial dog foods because it is packed with protein, phosphorus, and riboflavin! Turkey meat also provides an alternative source of protein for dogs with food allergies, particularly beef or chicken.

However, when it comes to Thanksgiving, many owners will cook their turkeys with butter, oils, and potentially toxic seasonings. Be sure to only give your dog plain turkey meat that is free from onions and garlic. As well as this, if you cook a whole bird, make sure to skip the skin when sharing turkey meat with your dog. Turkey skin is packed with fat, which can cause pancreatitis in excess. Not only this, but excess fat in a meal can cause diarrhea and an upset stomach. While it may be tempting to give leftover turkey bones to your dog, resist the urge. Poultry bones splinter easily, increasing your dog’s risk of choking, intestinal obstruction, and even intestinal punctures.


Ham can be harmful in large quantities, so be sure to only offer it to your pooch as a treat. While ham is not necessarily dangerous in small amounts, it does not offer much nutritional value either.

Most store-bought ham contains a lot of sodium and preservatives. When ingested in large quantities, sodium can cause vomiting, which progresses to diarrhea, muscle tremors, or even seizures. Your dog is most likely to be affected by sodium poisoning if they do not have access to fresh drinking water, or if a medical condition causes them to drink less water than normal. Couple the ham’s high sodium content with its high-fat content and you’ve got yourself an unhealthy type of meat. So, when feeding your dog ham, be sure to give it in small quantities, and to monitor your dog for any stomach upsets that might occur.


Organic pumpkin is a safe and highly digestible treat for any pup on Thanksgiving. Given by itself or as a topping on your dog’s kibble, pumpkin makes for a tasty and healthy addition to your dog’s Thanksgiving dinner! As well as including it in your dog Thanksgiving dinner, consider filling a Kong toy with cooked pumpkin.

Not only is pumpkin low in calories, but it is also high in fiber to promote your dog’s healthy digestive system. It is also a great source of carbohydrates, giving your dog that extra boost of energy to enjoy Thanksgiving! Your dog will benefit the most from an organic, unsweetened pumpkin that is free from any preservatives or other ingredients. With this being said, not all pumpkin is good for your pup. Firstly, be wary of giving your dog pumpkin pie mix. Sugar and spices that are often included in these mixes contain xylitol, which can be toxic to dogs. As well as this, raw pumpkin can be tough on your dog’s digestive tract – make sure to remove the stem to prevent intestinal obstructions.

pumpkin for dogs
Organic pumpkins are safe for dogs!


No Thanksgiving meal is complete without stuffing, but make sure to skip this part of the meal when it comes to your dog’s dinner. No matter how delicious your stuffing is, it is not safe for your dog to have any amount of it along with their own dinner.

Stuffing contains a myriad of ingredients that are harmful to dogs, including onions, scallions, garlic, and spices. Stuffing can also be high in sodium and fat, potentially causing diarrhea and vomiting when eaten in excess. So, if you wish to add stuffing to your dog Thanksgiving dinner, consider creating your own recipe that is free from onions, scallions, and garlic. You can use substitutes for onion and garlic, such as diced celery, parsley sprigs, and sage, to cook your very own homemade stuffing that your pooch is sure to love!


Corn is not only safe for dogs but is beneficial for their health too! Whole corn provides highly digestible carbohydrates, protein, linoleic acid, and fiber. Corn can be given by itself, or as a topping on your dog’s kibble. You could even use corn as a fun Kong filler for your dog to play with throughout the day.

While corn is safe for dogs, be sure to remove your corn from the cob before giving it to your pooch. Corn on the cob poses a choking hazard and can cause serious intestinal blockages if ingested. So, while it may be tempting to let your dog gnaw on corn on the cob, consider skipping this treat. It is also important to only give your pooch plain corn for Thanksgiving. Buttery corn is high in fat and can cause gastrointestinal distress in your dog.


Bread is not toxic to dogs and can be eaten in moderation. This means that you may safely feed your dog white bread, brown bread, or wheat bread as a treat on Thanksgiving, provided that they have no allergies and eat a balanced diet alongside it. In fact, bread is recommended for settling minor cases of an upset stomach in dogs.

It is important that you avoid pieces of bread that are made with toxic ingredients. Do not feed your dog bread that contains raisins, garlic, nuts, or seeds. While raisins are highly toxic to dogs, nuts and seeds are high in fat and can cause stomach irritation. As well as bread containing raisins and nuts, bread dough is a no-go for dogs. Unbaked bread dough expands in the stomach, resulting in painful bloating and distention. Not only this, but yeast fermentation products like ethanol are absorbed into your dog’s bloodstream, resulting in metabolic acidosis. If severe, these effects can result in seizures and death.

bread for dogs on thanksgiving
Dogs can consume a moderate amount of bread.

Safety Tips & Precautions

This Thanksgiving, make sure to consider your dog’s safety as well as your guests. While Thanksgiving is an exciting time for humans, it can be a dangerous and nerve-wracking time for our furry friends.

Deal With Nervous Dogs

Having new people show up at your door is an intense situation for an anxious dog. The sight and smell of a new person is a big deal to a dog who is uncomfortable around people. So, it’s important that you see the situation from their point of view before getting frustrated with your dog’s behavior. You should provide your dog with an established safe space to retreat to when they are anxious. This could be a crate, bed, or quiet room where your dog knows they are safe. Once your visitors are inside, have them sit and give your dog their favorite treats or a favorite toy. As well as this, make sure to reward good behavior when your dog is confident around your guests.

Beware of Hidden Toxins

This Thanksgiving, be mindful of the festive plants that you use to decorate your home. Some flowers and festive plants are toxic to pets and should be kept far out of your furry friend’s reach. Such plants include amaryllis, hydrangeas, chrysanthemums, which can cause vomiting, depression, and loss of coordination when ingested. To be on the safe side, you may consider using non-toxic plants in your home this Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving cacti, Peruvian lilies, and sunflowers are non-toxic options to add a splash of color to your home. These plants may cause diarrhea when ingested in mass quantities, however. Be sure to keep them out of your pup’s reach at all times to prevent this from occurring.

Keep Only One Carer

No matter how much your pooch longingly watches your guests eat their Thanksgiving dinner, encourage your guests not to feed your dog table scraps. Instead, only one person should feed your dog throughout the day. This allows you to ensure that you effectively keep track of what your dog has eaten. Politely inform your guests that your Thanksgiving dinner may contain harmful ingredients, such as garlic or onions, and explain that your dog may only eat plain leftover meat if any remains. It is important to make sure that you cover and hide food away from your dog during dinner preparations. This includes keeping trash cans closed, and any food waste in a place where your dog cannot reach.

Dog Thanksgiving Dinner – FAQs

Have any more questions or concerns about a dog Thanksgiving dinner? Feel free to browse our Frequently Asked Questions section for more details. If in doubt about the foods your pet can eat, always ask your vet for advice.

What is safe for dogs to eat on Thanksgiving?

White turkey meat, organic pumpkin, corn off the cob, and plain bread are non-toxic foods that you can give to your dog. Your dog’s Thanksgiving dinner can also eat sweet potatoes, white potatoes, carrots, green beans, and cranberries! Just be sure to give these foods in moderation, and to avoid using any potentially harmful seasonings in your dog’s servings. This means avoiding seasonings such as garlic, onion, butter, and spices.

It is also important to remove any bones or sharp, rough objects from the food items that you give to your pooch. Finally, you should only give these foods alongside a healthy, balanced diet, to ensure good digestive health. While these foods will be appreciated by your dog, they are not a substitute for a complete and balanced diet that provides all the nutrition that your dog needs.

What should I not feed my pet on Thanksgiving?

Your dog’s Thanksgiving dinner should not contain any ham, stuffing, or corn on the cob. You should also skip grapes, raisins, garlic, onions, chocolate, raw yeast dough, and fatty trimmings when preparing your dog’s dinner. Grapes, raisins, onions, chives, and garlic are all toxic to your dog, causing vomiting and diarrhea before shutting down your pet’s kidneys. It can take a while for your dog’s symptoms to develop, so if your dog ingests these toxic foods, be sure to check in with your vet rather than waiting for symptoms to appear.

Similarly, fatty foods such as turkey skin and drippings, stuffing, and buttery mashed potatoes can cause gastrointestinal distress in your dog. Finally, you should not feed your dog any chocolate or candy this Thanksgiving. Chocolate and candy are not only too high in sugar for your dog, but also contain toxic ingredients like theobromine.

Dos and don’ts of feeding dogs on Thanksgiving?

This Thanksgiving, make sure to restrict your dog’s diet to dog-friendly food. When making your homemade Thanksgiving dinner, do: add turkey, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, apples, organic pumpkin, peas, green beans, carrots, bread, cheese, rice, and corn. Do remove any bones or sharp objects from your dog’s food before serving it, to prevent choking and intestinal obstruction. As well as this, do create a stress-free environment for your dog. New sights, sounds, and smells are overwhelming to any dog, so make sure to provide them with a safe space to retreat to.

When making your pup’s dinner, remember that some foods are not pooch-approved. Don’t add turkey skin, turkey bones, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, alcohol, grapes, raisins, onions, scallions, candy, or chocolate to your dog’s Thanksgiving dinner. Do not give your dog foods that contain bones or sharp, rough objects that pose a choking hazard. As well as this, do not put your dog in situations that will overwhelm them where possible. If your dog does not cope well with large groups of people, consider inviting the minimum amount of guests this Thanksgiving for your dog’s comfort.

What is the healthiest human food to feed your dog?

There are several “human” foods that are healthy for dogs when given in moderation. Firstly, carrots are a healthy snack for any hungry hound, containing plenty of beta-carotene and fiber. Similarly, eggs are abundant in essential amino acids and are highly digestible, making for a healthy treat for your pooch. Green beans are packed with vitamins A, K, and C as well as magnesium, all of which support your dog’s body systems. Like green beans, organic pumpkin boasts an ample number of vitamins and minerals as well as fiber. Dogs also benefit from eating plain, unsweetened yogurt. This dairy product is high in calcium and contains probiotics, which support a healthy digestive system. Other healthy snacks for dogs include coconut, oatmeal, green peas, sweet potatoes, and rice.

When making the perfect Thanksgiving dinner for dogs, it’s important to consider the dos and donts of your food choices. While dogs can enjoy a portion of your plain roast turkey, foods like ham and stuffing should be left off the menu this Thanksgiving.

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