The last thing you want to do on any holiday is having to run to the emergency room with your four-legged friend. Despite being an exciting holiday filled with family and friends, it can be a stressful time for your four-legged pals. Depending on your family’s traditions, you may start prepping those favorite dishes days before the actual Thanksgiving dinner. That’s why it’s important to keep these tips in mind when prepping your food.

Thankfully, we’ve compiled a handy guide on everything you need to know about Thanksgiving pet safety including, which foods can be toxic for your furry friend, which ones should be served in moderation, and healthy alternatives to give your pets so they don’t feel left out during the festivities.

Dog and Cat Thanksgiving Safety Tips

Black pug staring at pumpkin pie on white 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 decide on 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 insist 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.

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

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 in 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 standing next to woman and pumpkins

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
  • Macadamias, pecans, and other nuts
  • Xylitol (artificial sweetener)
  • Bread dough
  • Fat trimmings
  • Cooked bones

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 and blueberries
  • Plain oatmeal
  • Greek yogurt
  • 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
  • Cooked carrots or peas
  • 100% pure pumpkin puree

Thanksgiving Foods In Moderation

With so many delectable dishes on the table at Thanksgiving, it’s hard to say no to those big puppy dog or kitty cat eyes. But, do you have to say no to everything? Depending on certain foods, your vet may recommend you only give your furry friend small, balanced amounts with their regular dry food. Here are a few food items you can feed your dog or cat in moderation:

Can dogs eat broccoli?

If you’re wondering, “can dogs eat broccoli?” it depends on the amount and how it is prepared. Dogs can have broccoli stalks (cooked or uncooked) if they are cut up into small pieces. However, giving them too many broccoli florets, the top part of the veggie, can cause gastrointestinal issues. The Isothiocyanate in the florets can cause nausea, gas, bloating, and diarrhea if given in large amounts.

Can dogs eat bread?

Just like it is for humans, dogs can easily get overfilled with bread. You may think a cracker here and there might not be a serious issue, but bread can cause a few different issues if not given in moderation. Not only will bread fill your dog up, but it may cause them to skip their healthy, regular meal. Bread can also cause weight gain. If you’re still unsure and are searching, “can dogs eat bread?” give small amounts for treas, but make sure they get plenty of dog food and exercise to balance it out.

Can cats eat cheese?

You may find a few controversial opinions when searching, “can cats eat cheese?” However, you have to know that all dairy products cannot be properly digested by cats of any breed or age. If your cat enjoys a cheesy treat, give a very small piece. Although cheese and other dairy products may have a significant amount of protein, cats cannot successfully get nutrients out of these food items. If you ask your vet, “can cats eat cheese?” they are going to tell you to be very careful or it can cause diarrhea or vomiting.

Choking Hazards for Pets Q&A

Dog begging for food at table

You turn away for one second and you hear a crash bang as plates come tumbling down. Aunt Sally thinks it would be cute to give your pet her uneaten Turkey leg to your furry friend. Either of these scenarios can happen even under a watchful eye. And whether it is by accident or give on purpose, it’s important to understand which foods can pose a serious choking hazard for dogs and cats. We want to highlight six unusual foods for dogs and cats that can easily get stuck in their throat.

Can Cats Eat Peanut Butter?

If you’re wondering, “can cats eat peanut butter?” the answer is no. Peanut butter can become a choking hazard due to its sticky texture. Avoid these kinds of foods in case you want to make a trip to the emergency room. Not only could peanut butter cause choking, but nuts in general, are also often difficult on a cat’s digestive tract.

Can Cats Eat Carrots?

Although some cooked vegetables can be included as a healthy snack for cats, if you’ve ever searched, “Can cats eat carrots?” you will find that raw ones can become a choking hazard. Unlike humans, cats do not need vegetables in their diet; however, cooked carrots can help with weight loss or diabetes. Talk to your vet about your cat’s recommended diet before adding too many vegetables.

Would Fat or Gristle Cause a Choking Hazard for Pets?

Yes. Never give your cat or dog meat that has fat or gristle. These can become difficult to chew and cause choking hazards, especially for younger pets. Always trim meat to make it safer for your furbaby. In addition, fat and gristle is unhealthy for pets and can cause elevated blood pressure and cholesterol, just like it does to humans. Giving table scraps to your pet teaches bad habits and could cause digestive issues later on. If you can, try to keep pets in a separate room from dinner guests so they don’t pressure your loved ones into giving them unhealthy or unsafe snacks.

Can Cats Eat Marshmallows?

This one is a big no! Cats cannot eat marshmallows because of how little nutrition they hold. They are one of the most common foods that could become lodged within your cat’s throat. If you’re planning to whip up some fudge or a sweet potato casserole, make sure your cat is out of the kitchen.

Plastic Cutlery and Napkins

You may not expect your perfect pooch to grab cutlery or napkins, but it can happen in an instant. Make sure to have guests watch their utensils and napkins as best as they can and make sure to keep these items off the floor. Pets may find them under tables and can chew them into tiny pieces. If you’re going to allow your pets in the kitchen, dining room, or any other place guests may be eating, make sure to watch them and be attentive to plastics and napkins left unattended. These can be choked on and can also cause damage to sensitive intestinal tissue.

Can Dogs Eat Turkey Bones?

As you’re enjoying Thanksgiving dinner, you may look down to see your pet’s precious, little face looking up at your with their big, wide eyes. If you’re wondering, “can dogs eat turkey bones?” this one is also a no. Giving your dog a turkey bone is unsafe due to its makeup. Both turkey and chicken bones can become brittle causing small slivers to break off. These can easily become lodged in their throat or do serious damage to their intestinal tract if ingested. If your dogs eat turkey bones, call your vet immediately. Avoid turkey, as well as other fowl, bones as much as possible. Instead, offer your dog healthy snacks to munch on like cooked sweet potato, greek yogurt, and pumpkin puree (not pie filling).

Thanksgiving Recipes for Dogs and Cats

Dog holding spoon in mouth at kitchen counter

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. 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. We wish all our readers and their pets a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving!

Enrolling In Pet Insurance Is Proactive Pet Parenting

As a pet parent, you know things can happen in a split-second. Aunt Lynn puts her pecan pie or onion side dish on the edge of the counter and you suddenly hear a crash as your puppy gobbles up large amounts of toxic foods. Before you know it, you’re on the way to the vet worried about how much the bill will cost you.

At Prudent Pet Insurance, we believe you shouldn’t have to fear going to the vet because of expensive bills. By enrolling in pet insurance, you can finally get peace-of-mind your furry friend’s medical expenses will be covered. Check out our flexible, customizable dog and cat insurance plans.

Get a free, no-obligation quote or give us a call at 888.820.7739 to talk with one of our friendly agents. Prudent Pet, we help keep your promise to your pets…especially during the holiday season.