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Thanksgiving with Dogs & Cats

by | November 7, 2018 | Pet Care

Thanksgiving with Dogs & Cats

Dog and Cat Thanksgiving Safety Tips

Thanksgiving turkey on dinner table

House Rules & Guest Etiquette

It’s up to the host to set the tone for their guests when it comes to interacting with the family’s pets.

If you would rather people not feed your pet table scraps, it’s perfectly acceptable to lay out your house rules for how your pets should be approached. Make sure adults and children are aware of your wishes. Some guests will insist it’s OK to feed your pet table scraps based on their own experience with their own pets. For these critics, it’s best to let them know their services will be called upon when a pet cleanup is necessary. This effective chat seems to curb most people’s desire to slip your pet a morsel.

If guests persist on giving your pet a treat, provide them pet-friendly treats in a limited quantity.  And if all else fails, relocate your pet far away from the table while you dine. Out of sight, out of mind.

Black dog staring at pastry at table

Counter Surfers and Trash Bandits

Unattended dishes can be a magnet for your pet and extra precaution should be taken to make sure pets don’t get into food meant for people. Pick up unattended plates and cups and promptly put in a trash can with a secured lid to deter the pets who like “dumpster dive”.

If you use baking twine for turkey or ham preparation take note that this string will smell divine to dogs and cats, and to discard the twine immediately after use to avoid ingestion.

If you believe your pet has eaten something poisonous call your veterinarian or local veterinary emergency clinic immediately. You can also call the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline at 888-426-4435. Acting as soon as you suspect something could save their life. We also suggest reading up on what to do if your dog gets poisoned.

  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Blood in the stool
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bruising
  • Nosebleeds
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Inability to urinate

Dog lays down in the white bed

A Quiet Place

If your dog or cat stresses easily, ask guests to give the pet space. Some animals are not used to small children and may not appreciate their advances. Keeping this mind, you can move their feeding station and water to a less trafficked area or relegate them to a quieter part of the house. Dog or baby gates can also separate animals from busy areas and small hands, while still letting you keep an eye on them. Remember to check in on your pets to provide a potty break, refresh their water, feed or give them a quick cuddle.

The Great Escape

Prior to your guests’ arrival make sure all pets are wearing current tags and take a few moments to check that microchip information is up to date. Guests may unwittingly contribute to a pet’s escape from the house during Thanksgiving. A pet waiting by a door could signal they want to go outside to some people. Let guests know upon arrival if your pet can venture outside by themselves. Not able to greet each guest as they arrive? Avoid a lost pet scenario by printing out and posting this sign by all doors leading to the outside and inform them without saying a word.

Four-legged Guests

Some of your human guests will bring their pets with them to celebrate this holiday. In the case of dogs who have not met before, certain precautions should be taken to ensure everyone has a safe holiday. Watch this video and share with your guest who is bringing their pup along so both parties understand how to best introduce their dogs.

Thanksgiving Food Guide for Feeding Cats and Dogs

Cat sitting on table

If you are interested in serving up a pet-friendly Thanksgiving feast, there are safe options you can consider, but before you step into the kitchen give your vet a call to see what they think. Since every pet is unique substitutions may be needed and remember everything in moderation!

Poisonous Foods for Dogs & Cats:

  • Mushrooms
  • Chocolate
  • Onions, garlic, scallions, chives
  • Raisins and grapes
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Avocados
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Xylitol (artificial sweetener)
  • Bread dough
  • Fat trimmings
  • Cooked bones

Poisonous Plants for Dogs & Cats:

  • Ivy
  • Foxglove
  • Hemlock
  • Mushrooms
  • Mistletoe
  • Oleander
  • Lilies
  • Daffodils
  • Tulips
  • Oak/acorns
  • Bittersweet plants (Waxwork, American Bittersweet, Celastrus Scandens

Cooked turkey from oven

Dog Safe Foods:

  • Cooked turkey (white meat, deboned, skinless, no seasonings)
  • Cooked or steamed green beans
  • Plain baked sweet potato
  • 100% pure pumpkin puree
  • Apples
  • Plan oatmeal
  • Cooked or raw bite-sized carrots

Cat Safe Foods:

  • Cooked turkey (deboned, no seasonings)
  • Plain baked sweet potato
  • Cooked or steamed green beans
  • Cooked or steamed broccoli
  • Peas
  • 100% pure pumpkin pure

Thanksgiving Recipes for Dogs and Cats

Heart-shaped recipe in kitchen

Safely include your dog and cat by making them their own pet-friendly meal. Remember any change in diet can upset a dog’s or cat’s digestive system. Reminder always consult your vet about what food is appropriate for your pet prior to feeding them new foods.

For Dogs

Dog face in front of black background

Thanksgiving Dinner by Jonna Anne


  • 3 lb. skinless turkey pieces (light and dark meat)
  • 1 cup (about 6 oz) oatmeal (cooked)
  • 1 lb. sweet potatoes cubed
  • 4 tbsp olive oil


Use turkey leftovers or roast the turkey:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Lightly oil a roasting pan.
  2. For boneless breast or thigh, cook 30–45 minutes; boned breast or thigh, 45–60 minutes; whole turkey, 1 1/2–2 hours or until the meat juices run clear when pierced with a skewer. Let cool.
  3. Remove all the bones and skin, dice meat into large pieces.
  4. If using fresh sweet potatoes, roast with the turkey for about 25–30 minutes or until tender. Let cool, then peel and dice.
  5. Meanwhile, cook the oatmeal according to package instructions.
  6. Mix together the turkey meat, oatmeal, sweet potatoes. If using gravy or oil, add it now and mix thoroughly.

More Thanksgiving dog recipes to check out:

For Cats

Cat nose close up

SassyKat’s Special Dinner by Entirely Pets


  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon minced, cooked green beans
  • 1 teaspoon shredded carrot
  • 2 tablespoons baked chicken breast or turkey (no skin) minced
  • 1/3 cup cooked brown rice or wild rice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  1. Mix all the ingredients thoroughly with a wooden spoon or in a blender/food processor. It’s important to get the rice mixed in well so that it can’t be picked out. (Diabetics need fiber and cats with kidney failure problems need to limit their protein intake, so this serves two purposes.)
  2. Cook in a small Pyrex skillet over low heat, stirring and “chopping” constantly, until the egg is at least soft-set but done.
  3. Refrigerate in air-tight containers, such as Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Zip-Lock baggies.
  4. Use within 36 hours (refrigerated). Stores well in the freezer in Zip-Lock baggies and can be thawed and warmed simultaneously in boiling water in the bag.

Dogs and cats holding thanks pumpkins

Celebrating Thanksgiving with dogs and cats can be enjoyable for everyone with proper planning and communication. If you’re looking for more fun ways to include your pets this season check out Peabody the Pug’s Fun Fall Activities for Pets! We wish all our readers and their pets a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving!

Want to show your gratitude for your cat or dog year round? Protect your pet with dog health insurance or cat health insurance that is simple to understand, easy to use and crafted just for your pet. Get my free quote now.


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Nicky is owned by Bohdi (Bow-dee) the Dachsador, a rescue from Anderson Animal Shelter in South Elgin, IL. This active Dachshund, Labrador mix is obsessed with fetching tennis balls and relentless in his pursuit of play #ballislife. Bohdi isn’t keen on the spotlight but you can find him on Instagram @itsbohdibrah.