Thanksgiving is just around the corner and this means that kitchens everywhere will be filled with an abundance of delicious foods. The aroma of turkey, stuffing, gravy, potatoes, desserts and all the other side dishes will fill the air and draw the whole family to enjoy the fabulous feast, and this naturally includes your family member with the best nose – your pup! Throughout the celebration, it might be hard to deny your dog all of the tasty food so please be mindful that there will likely be many items that can make your pet sick.
Please read below for a list of five Thanksgiving staples that should be kept away from your dog (if you aren’t using a pet sitter)- and two that you can share!
Dogs are known to love gnawing on bones but turkey (and all poultry) bones are an absolute no-no. Turkey bones splinter very easily and pieces can lodge themselves in your dog’s esophagus, which can cause your dog to choke, and intestines when swallowed. Painful and expensive surgery is often required to safely extract these splintered bones so you are much better off keeping them away from your dog altogether.
Onions and garlic
There are some foods, like green beans, that can be good for your dog’s diet, however, they are often cooked with onion or garlic and these are well known for causing health issues for dogs. Thanksgiving staple side dishes like stuffing and casserole usually contain onions or garlic, and these foods will damage your dog’s red blood cells, leading to anemia, with symptoms of weakness, high heart rate, vomiting and diarrhea. These symptoms can also take a few days to occur so your dog’s body might be feeling the effects before they become noticeable.
Foods that are high in fats are common at a Thanksgiving feast but should always be kept away from your dog’s bowl. Gravy, turkey skin, ham and bacon are just a few fatty foods that might appear on the table that can harm your dog. They can cause gastrointestinal issues in dogs, as well as pancreatitis, which can be life-threatening. Not only are these foods high in fats, but they are also often quite salty, and too much salt can lead to sodium ion poisoning in dogs.
Chocolate or cinnamon desserts
Sharing desserts with your dog is never really a good idea as large amounts of sugar can lead to obesity, dental problems and diabetes. However, this is especially important to heed if you are serving a dessert with a lot of chocolate or cinnamon. Cinnamon is detrimental to your dog’s health, as it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, low blood sugar and liver disease.
Chocolate is notorious for causing health problems for dogs – it contains a chemical called theobromine which dogs are not capable of metabolizing the way humans are. Darker chocolate especially can also cause vomiting and diarrhea, as well as increased heart rate and seizures. Even though most pet owners already know that chocolate should never be given to dogs, it is still a leading cause of poisoning in dogs, especially around the holidays, so it is important to be vigilant with it.
It should be obvious that you should never share alcohol with your dog. It can cause alcohol poisoning, where dogs may experience vomiting, loss of coordination, and some serious, potentially fatal, neurological issues. Even if you don’t explicitly give your dog an alcoholic beverage, alcohol can also appear in less obvious foods. Some desserts are traditionally soaked in alcohol and dogs require a lot less alcohol than humans do to feel its effects. Another, more unusual, way a dog might ingest alcohol is through yeast dough. If a dog eats uncooked dough, it can ferment and release alcohol in their stomach and this can cause bloating or even a twisted stomach.
Bonus: Dog safe Thanksgiving foods
Just because you have to be very careful with what you feed your dog at Thanksgiving, it doesn’t mean you can’t share anything at all! While it’s always a better idea to give your dog treats and food specifically made with their specific health needs in mind, there are also some foods that are alright to add to your dog’s Thanksgiving meal (in moderation). Pieces of turkey can be nutritious for your dog, so if you are having a hard time resisting their puppy eyes, you can give this to your pup. Just be sure that it is fully cooked and removed of any fatty bits, skin and bone. If you are serving pumpkin for your feast as well, you can also give this to your pup as it’s a healthy, fibre-filled snack.
If you are worried that your dog ingested too much of a dog-toxic food, please call your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Hotline. They will be able to help you take the appropriate steps to ensure your dog doesn’t end up with any serious health issues.
Be safe and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!