Pet Safety: Safe Foods Dogs Can Eat On Thanksgiving

Next time you are the pet store picking up a bag of kibble, check out the ingredients in some popular brands of dog food.  The lists read like a veritable Thanksgiving Day menu: sweet potatoes, turkey, peas, white potatoes, carrots, pumpkin and cranberries.  As the lines blur between pet food diets and what we feed our human holiday guests, it is a good idea to clear up some common misconceptions about safe and dangerous Thanksgiving meals for dogs, so they can join the party!

Thanksgiving Table Decorations To Watch Out For

During the holiday preparations, we may overlook the dog in the corner munching on a mum or an amaryllis.  Both plants, as well as macadamia nuts, holly, English ivy, cyclamen, and Christmas rose are all found on the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center’s list of toxic plants.  Ingesting modest quantities will generally cause vomiting, diarrhea, depression, and excessive salivation so it’s best to keep any plants high out of reach of a rogue canine. 

The kitchen! Home to all varieties of delicious smells, tastes, and frenzied activity.  Dough rising in the corner for dinner rolls? Should your dog eat raw dough, be prepared for a host of potential problems including bowel obstruction and bloat as the dough continues to rise and release gases INSIDE your dog’s belly.  As the yeast ferments, ethanol is produced. 

Think an over-served relative is bad news? A drunk dog is no laughing matter; watch for signs of drooling, difficulty walking, weakness, low blood pressure, body temperature, vomiting, and seizures in an intoxicated pet. Raw or under-cooked meat waiting for the deep fryer can also be dangerous to your dog.  In addition to bones which can puncture the esophagus, stomach, intestines, or become lodged in the mouth, Salmonella and E.coli love to live on raw turkey.  Ingesting these bacteria may cause vomiting and diarrhea in your dog which may lead to secondary exposure by unsuspecting guests.

Safe Thanksgiving Foods For Dogs


Can your dog eat cooked turkey? For most otherwise healthy dogs with no food allergies or intolerances, the answer is yes! A good rule of thumb is to feed your dog no more than 10% of his daily calories in treat form or suffer the consequences (read: diarrhea).

Skinless, boneless white meat is low in fat and calories and is easy to digest for most dogs.  Likewise, canned or cooked pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling with sugar and spices) is a great source of fiber and Vitamin A; 1-2 Tablespoons can be added to your dog’s dish without leading to excessive gas or loose stools. 

Mashed or cooked white potatoes or sweet potatoes are also a delicious treat; set aside some safe starches before you add butter, salt, milk, cheese, gravy, and especially garlic or onions (both on the naughty list and can cause red blood cell damage!).  And please, no gravy!

Traditional Thanksgiving foods like cranberries can be eaten in very small amounts before being doctored with sugar and other goodness.  And while they may look similar, grapes and raisins are known to cause kidney disease in dogs and are to be avoided.  Plain green beans and peas are tasty and healthy! Add a few to your dog’s Thanksgiving plate.

Sweet Treats Dogs Can and Cannot Eat 


No meal is complete without dessert. Chocolate is a definite no-no; the caffeine and theobromine cause nervous system stimulation, gastrointestinal upset, and even death in high enough doses.  All chocolate is not created equal; dark chocolate and baking chocolate, i.e. the “good stuff”, contains more of the “bad stuff” and will cause toxicity in smaller quantities.  Size does matter.  A smaller dog will become ill eating the same amount of chocolate as a larger pet.

Those of you trying to minimize the calorie load in your Thanksgiving meal need to be sure sweeteners containing xylitol aren’t accessible to dogs. The no-calorie sweetener can be found in some peanut butters, gum, mints, pudding snacks, and some baked goods.  Unlike humans, dogs consuming xylitol experience a massive release of insulin which can cause low blood sugar, weakness, seizures, and liver failure.  If you like to spoil your pet, apples, carob chips, and frozen banana bites are safe Thanksgiving indulgences for your dog.  

Most of all, make sure your guests are on the same page when it comes to sharing their Thanksgiving food.  If everyone gives your dog a “tiny” bit of turkey, tummy troubles or even a serious case of pancreatitis could send you to the vet. It’s also important to remember to feed your dog his Thanksgiving dish IN his dish and not from your hand or the table.  Bad behavior can begin or be reinforced during the frenetic holidays. 

Be mindful of these tips and you can be thankful you avoided a Thanksgiving trip to the Animal ER!

Keeping Your Pets Safe in the Summer Heat


Summer time can be dangerous and uncomfortable for your pets. With humidity,  high temperatures and summer storms, your pets can be stressed and become sick. Or even die!

Here are some helpful tools and tips to help your fur babies safe and cool during the hot summer months.

Practice basic summer safety:

NEVER leave your pet in a parked car, EVER.

Even with the windows cracked, temperatures can reach as high as 120°, in 30 minutes, on an 85° day. Your pet may suffer irreversible organ damage, or die. Not even for a minute should you leave your pets in the car. The pet will suffer terribly if left in a hot car unattended, no one wants that.


Humidity is as dangerous for your pet as it is for you. Your pet “pants” to help evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat away from their body. With high humidity levels, they will be unable to cool themselves and their body temperature will soar to dangerous levels, very quickly.

Signs of heatstroke

Signs of heatstroke include are heavy panting, glazed eyes, rapid heart beat, difficulty breathing, lethargy, vomiting, deep red or purple tongue, and becoming unconscious. Young or older animals are more susceptible to heatstroke, and some breeds with short muzzles will have a harder time breathing in hot weather.

If heat stroke happens, move your pet into the shade or an air conditioned area. Run cool, not cold, water over her/him, and apply ice packs to the neck, head and chest area. Let the pet drink small amounts of water, or lick ice cubes. Take the pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Prevention is the best medicine

Always provide ample cold, fresh water and shade for your pets, and the ability for them to get out of the sun if you can’t be home with them. Try and keep them in an air conditioned room if at all possible. Dogs do not respond to fans the same way as humans, because dogs mainly sweat through the paws, so it is not as effective.

Limit exercise on hot days, to early morning or late evening when it is cooler. Try to have a leisurely walk instead of a strenuous work out. Always carry water with you to keep your dog from getting dehydrated.

Just a few commons sense items will keep your fur babies happy, healthy, and cool!

Enjoy the summer!

**The Humane Society of the United States newsletter,