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Thanksgiving and Your Pet

Alaina Buzas [Flickr]

Sharing Thanksgiving foods with your best friend (or friends) is fine, as long as you make sure it's safe for them.  Just give them small amounts, and they will enjoy the treat!  


With the Thanksgiving holiday coming up this week, lots of folks will be preparing special dishes for the feast – those once-a-year goodies that are so delicious! And more often than not, pet owners will be tempted to share their dinner with their pets. After all, they are part of the family.

It’s important to remember that there are dangers lurking on that Thanksgiving dinner plate. offers some great suggestions for what is okay to feed your pet and what should stay out of your pet’s food dish.

Foods to avoid are those that contain things like grapes or raisins, which can cause kidney failure in a pet. Likewise, it’s a good idea to pass on anything containing onions or garlic, unless it is thoroughly cooked. Even then, letting your pet have too much could result in toxic anemia. People who are watching their weight may use artificial sweeteners, but one in particular, Xylitol, is poisonous to pets and can be fatal. Most folks know not to feed chocolate to their pets, but be careful of dishes that may contain baking chocolate as one of the ingredients; baking chocolate is more of a threat than milk chocolate. Also on the taboo list is alcohol.

So what can you share with your pet? says cooked vegetables like green beans and carrots are actually good for your furry friend. Mashed potatoes can also be a good choice for a treat, as long as they haven’t been “enhanced” with things like gravy, onions, butter, sour cream. If your pet can tolerate dairy products, you might want to share a small amount of your mac-and-cheese. A little taste of cranberry sauce wouldn’t hurt your four-footed friend. And best of all, you can share some turkey! Just make sure to remove any bones.

Table scraps should never be the bulk of your pet’s diet, but if you keep it healthy and give only modest amounts, both of you can enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday in style. And when you’re counting the things that you’re thankful for, remember to include on your list the warmth and companionship of your furry best friend – when you’re speaking of pets.


Mindy Norton has been “Speaking of Pets” on Alabama Public Radio since 1995.
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