Most families enjoy gathering with friends and loved ones to express gratitude and enjoy a delicious feast, but while Thanksgiving celebrations are special for people, they are potentially hazardous for our pets. Our team at Boca Midtowne Animal Hospital answers common questions about potential Thanksgiving pet hazards and how to keep pets safe.

Question: Can my pet eat turkey?

Answer: Boneless, cooked, turkey meat is generally safe for pets—in moderation—but the meat is not the problem when feeding turkey to your pet. Turkey skin and dark meat are high in fats and can cause inflammation of the pancreas. Also, turkey is often seasoned with garlic and onions, which are toxic to pets and can cause digestive issues, such as vomiting and diarrhea. If you do share turkey with your pet, offer them only a small amount of skinless, boneless, unseasoned white meat that has been properly cooked. 

Q: What Thanksgiving foods are toxic to pets?

A: Thanksgiving is a food-centric holiday, but many traditional dishes are harmful, and pet-toxic in some cases. Steer clear of the following foods:

  • Onions, garlic, and chives — These veggies spice up any dish, but they can also cause red blood cell damage and anemia in pets. 
  • Chocolate — Dark chocolate and baking chocolate are the most dangerous, but all chocolate varieties are toxic to pets. Ingesting chocolate causes central nervous stimulation in pets, resulting in restlessness, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Xylitol — This sugar substitute may reduce your dessert’s calories, but xylitol can cause severe hypoglycemia (i.e., low blood sugar) and liver failure in dogs.
  • Raisins and grapes — Grapes and raisins are commonly used in the stuffing and other side dishes, but they contain an unknown toxin that causes kidney failure in pets.
  • Unbaked bread dough — If your dog eats unbaked dough containing yeast, it can rise in their warm stomach and grow large enough to cause a blockage. The fermenting bread can also lead to alcohol poisoning.
  • Nutmeg — Pumpkin pie is a quintessential part of any Thanksgiving meal, but nutmeg, a common spice in this dessert, contains myristicin, which causes disorientation, abdominal pain, and seizures in pets.
  • Macadamia nuts — All nuts have a high-fat content that can trigger pancreatitis, but macadamia nuts, which cause muscle weakness, depression, vomiting, and hyperthermia, are especially problematic.

Q: Should I give my pet turkey bones?

A: While tossing a leftover bone to your pet may seem harmless, raw and cooked turkey bones present significant dangers. 

  • Cooked bones — Cooked bones become brittle and can easily splinter. If ingested, the sharp fragments can pierce the digestive tract and potentially cause blockages, tears, or other internal injuries that may require surgical intervention.
  • Uncooked bones — Uncooked bones are less prone to splintering but can still cause choking or become lodged in the upper jaw. 

For your pet’s safety, do not offer them any bones. Instead, give them a tasty dental chew with the  VOHC seal of acceptance, which will also boost their oral health. 

Q: Can Thanksgiving decorations be dangerous for pets?

A: Thanksgiving decorations create a beautiful and festive ambiance, but some decorations can pose safety threats to pets. Ensure your Thanksgiving decor is pet-friendly rather than a pet hazard, like these potential problems:

  • Candles — Your curious cat or your dog’s wagging tail can easily knock over a lit candle, causing a fire hazard.
  • Potpourris — These decorations may smell good, but they contain herbs and oils that can be dangerous for your pet.
  • Floral centerpieces — Some fall flowers, including crocuses, lilies, and chrysanthemums, can be harmful to pets. Before choosing your Thanksgiving floral arrangement, research pet-safe plants with this searchable poisonous plant list.

Q: How can I keep my pet calm on Thanksgiving? 

A: If your pet tends to be shy or anxious, alleviate their stress during your Thanksgiving gathering by establishing a quiet, safe space where they can escape the chaos and commotion. If you are hosting the Thanksgiving celebrations, set up a quiet bedroom for your pet, with a tasty chew for company. Turn on the radio or TV to help muffle the boisterous festivities, and consider pheromone therapy to help ease your pet’s anxiety. If your pet is particularly anxious, consult with your veterinarian in advance about anti-anxiety medication that may help. 

With these tips, you can enjoy a happy and pet-safe Thanksgiving with your two- and four-legged loved ones. If your pet is highly anxious, contact our Boca Midtowne Animal Hospital team to discuss anti-anxiety medications that can help reduce their holiday stress.