By Sheila Fitzpatrick, DVM

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday for families, but it’s not necessarily the best holiday for your pet.

As you are preparing the most delicious meal of the year, and the rest of the family is enjoying football and a relaxing day off, your pet may be contemplating just what table scraps he/she may be getting! And indeed, in a study by PET MD, 56 percent of owners are likely to give their pet a little something from their Thanksgiving feast!

Knowing this, what is safe and not safe for your pet to ingest at Thanksgiving?


Bones. If not properly chewed, bones can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea and even blockage in your pet! Be sure to keep the bones out of your pet’s reach and dispose of them properly.

Raw or undercooked turkey. Raw or uncooked meat can carry dangerous bacteria that can cause severe gastric upset, leading to vomiting, bloody diarrhea and severe dehydration. If you are tempted to give your pet turkey, be sure it is cooked thoroughly and is without any fat or skin, which also can lead to gastric upset, including pancreatis in a pet.

Alcohol. While we enjoy our beer in front of the game or our glass of wine with dinner, our pets should not!  Alcohol can lead to fever, rapid heartbeat, liver damage and even seizures! Keep your glasses and bottles out of reach of your pet to avoid any potential exposure!

Grapes and raisins. Though tasty in our fruit salads, just one grape can be toxic to a dog. Grapes and raisins both cause life threatening kidney failure, so keep your pet away!

Onions and Garlic. These add just that much more flavor to our delicious meal, but onions and garlic are toxic to dogs, causing destruction of red blood cells leading to anemia.

Nutmeg. Nutmeg can cause tremors, central nervous problems and even seizures in your pet. A must to avoid!

Mushrooms. These fungi may be healthy for you, but not for your pet! Ingestion of mushrooms can cause severe vomiting, seizures and even death!

Knowing all this, what is safe for your pet?


Bread/rolls. Without butter and in small volumes, bread is just fine for your pet to ingest.

Green beans.  Often used for pets that are dieting, green beans can be a tasty treat and are filling for your pet.

Lean, cooked turkey. In moderation, without bones , fat or skin, fully cooked turkey can be a good source of protein.

Sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and pumpkin all are safe for your pet, once again in moderation and without nutmeg, garlic or onions.

Cranberry sauce. In small volumes, this tasty treat can also be a part of your pet’s Thanksgiving feast, but be careful of large volumes due to the high sugar content.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and remember, your pet can enjoy the holiday too, as long as you keep these tips in mind! Happy Holidays and be safe!

Sheila Fitzpatrick, DVM, is a graduate of Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and owns Mountain Mobile Veterinary Service in Eagle and Vail, CO. She’s a 1983 graduate of Ellicottville Central School and a frequent visitor to Ellicottville where her parents still live and her father Dana and brothers Greg and Dan own and run Fitzpatrick and Weller. She provides this column as a public service to pet owners in our area.