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Have a Happy & Safe Thanksgiving

Have a Happy & Safe Thanksgiving
  • Sophia Sanchez

Can you believe it’s Thanksgiving already?  Where did this year go? We have so much to be thankful for and our beloved dogs are certainly at the top of this list.  Many of us will be hosting family and loved ones this holiday, and with that comes the feast of a lifetime. Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, endless casseroles and desserts… Our mouths are already watering just thinking about all the food.  And because all dogs are the goodest boys and girls in all the land, it’s natural to want our furry favorites to partake in the grand food spread. But the truth is, many of the foods we indulge in each year can actually be quite toxic to our pets.

A study conducted in 2017 found that Christmas and Easter are the most dangerous days of the year where dogs and cats are at the highest risk of poisoning.  Veterinarians however, remind us not to discount Thanksgiving. Vets see a large spike of poisoning in dogs during major holidays and Thanksgiving is definitely on that list.  Holidays are a perfect storm of distractions and abundant food, where our pets are free to snatch and consume food right off counters and tables before we’ve even noticed it’s gone.  So… let’s take a look at a few of the most dangerous culprits.


If you are scratching your head at this one, don’t worry.  You likely aren’t alone. Turkey is often the main ingredient in top brand dog foods.  And yes, turkey can be very healthy for your dogs. What makes this potentially dangerous however is all of the additives.  Basting your turkey in garlic, onion, and sage can be very toxic.. And it should also be noted that cooked turkey bones can easily shard in your dog’s throat and cause them to choke.

Small pieces of white turkey meat however are a great way to include your pup in all the thanksgiving-meal festivities.


Every dog parent knows pumpkin can be a life saver when a pup has an upset stomach.  Raw pumpkin is excellent for their digestive health.  But in processed form, it can be dangerous.  Both pumpkin and sweet potato pies often contain nutmeg and cinnamon.  

  • Nutmeg contains something called myristicin, which can cause seizures in dogs and cause problems with their central nervous system in large amounts.  
  • Cinnamon can cause vomiting, low blood sugar, liver disease and diarrhea when ingested in large amounts; and can even be fatal in some cases.


This one may seem fairly obvious, but it doesn't hurt to mention it just in case.  Alcohol in any form, is one of the most dangerous substances you can give to your dog.  The effects of alcohol on people are no secret, but it can have a far worse effect on your dog with a lot less volume.  Alcohol can cause vomiting and pretty serious neurological issues.  It can even be fatal in some cases.


Another obvious one.  Every pet owner knows chocolate is bad for dogs, but here's something you might not know.  Chocolate ingestion is the leading cause of food poisoning in dogs, and this is especially true of dark chocolate.  Dark chocolate has caffeine and theobromine which dogs cannot break down like humans can.

Chocolate can cause diarrhea, seizures, and can even be fatal.  Be sure and keep chocolate high and out of reach this Thanksgiving!


Where there is turkey, there is usually stuffing and gravy as well.  And just like turkey, these foods often contain ingredients like onions, sage, garlic, mushrooms, leeks, peppers, chives and scallions… all of which are toxic.  For example, onions contain thiosulphate which can attack red blood cells. And sage can cause harm to their nervous systems.


Both cranberries and apples are very healthy for dogs in raw form.  Cranberries are an excellent source of vitamins and are also known to treat urinary tract infections in pets, as well as humans.  And apples are a great source of fiber and are notably healthy for a dog's digestive health.  But in sauce form, they are ladened with sugar which can cause your pup many of the same health issues sugar causes in humans; weight gain, tooth erosion and diabetes.  It can also cause an addiction in dogs the same way it does humans.


It is well known that dogs, just like humans, will all react differently.  My own dog once got into some onion and while I was a nervous wreck waiting to see how he'd react to it, he was perfectly fine.  But it's best not to take any chances, especially when so much temptation will be all around them this holiday.  To stay on the safe side, be sure to tell your guests what not to feed your pets this Thanksgiving.  And if you're just not sure, it's best to avoid it all together.

If you're looking for a safe way to include your dogs this holiday, maybe consider making a special meal just for them.  White turkey meat, steamed sweet potato, a green bean or two and finely diced apple slices, none of which should contain seasoning of any kind is a sure way to keep your pup happy and healthy.  Wishing you all a happy Thanksgiving holiday!