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Seven Thanksgiving Foods That are Bad for Cats and Dogs

It's only natural to want to share our Thanksgiving feast with our four-legged friends, but some foods can be downright dangerous for them. Keep them away from these seven food items so they can have a healthy and safe Thanksgiving!

Seven Thanksgiving Foods That are Bad for Cats and Dogs

Thanksgiving is around the corner and that means it's time to feast. However, many popular dishes aren’t safe for pets to consume. It’s important to know which foods are bad for dogs and cats.

Here are seven Thanksgiving food items to keep away from our four-legged friends:

  1. Stuffing 
    Thanksgiving dressing is often made with onions, scallions or garlic. These ingredients, however, are extremely toxic to dogs and cats and can cause a life-threatening anemia (destruction of the red blood cells). It’s best to avoid feeding any amount of stuffing to pets.
  2. Ham 
    Ham and other pork products can cause pancreatitis, upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhea. Pork is also high in fat, which can lead to obesity in pets. Even a small amount of ham can contribute a very large amount of calories to a small dog or cat's diet.
  3. Turkey Bones
    Bones can cause severe indigestion in dogs and cats, potentially causing vomiting and  obstructing the bowel. Bones may also splinter and cause damage to the inside of the stomach and intestines. In some cases, turkey bones may even puncture through the stomach and cause a potentially fatal abdominal infection.
  4. Dairy Products 
    Foods that contain butter or milk can cause diarrhea in lactose intolerant pets, such as mash potatoes, cheesecake, and buttermilk biscuits. 
  5. Spices 
    Some recipes that call for onion powder or garlic are very toxic to pets, including green bean casserole and gravy.
  6. Salads with Grapes/Raisins 
    There are many salads served at Thanksgiving that include grapes or raisins as an ingredient — from fruit salad, to waldorf salad, to ambrosia. However, grapes and raisins are very virulent and potentially deadly. Grapes can cause severe, irreversible and sometimes fatal kidney failure in dogs. Be sure to keep all dishes that include grapes and raisins away from pets.
  7. Chocolate Desserts 
    While pumpkin pie is the most famous Thanksgiving dessert (canned pumpkin also has many pet health benefits), many people offer a variety of chocolate desserts at Thanksgiving. Chocolate is toxic to dogs and cats, yet dogs love the smell and taste of it. The darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is. Keep all chocolate desserts out of the reach of pets to prevent an emergency trip to the veterinarian.

Also, don't forget to inform your dinner guests about these seven food items, so they don’t feed them to your cat or dog. If they do eat any of these foods, be sure to call your veterinarian immediately. The most important part of holiday pet safety is early action, which may prevent more costly and serious complications from developing.

With Union Plus Pet Health Insurance, Accident Only1 plans are only $6/month for cats and $9/month for dogs. If you’d like to include illness coverage, there are comprehensive BestBenefit Accident and Illness plans2 available.


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This original article was written by Dr. Eva Evans, a veterinarian and writer for pet health insurance agency, Pets Best. Since 2005, Pets Best has been offering pet health insurance plans to dogs and cats across the U.S.

Based on Pets Best claims data from 2015, 2016, and 2017.

1Accident Only Plans are $9/mo for dogs and $6/mo for cats. In WA state: the Accident Plan is $10/mo for dogs and $7/mo for cats.

25% Group Discount plus 5% Weblink Discount applies to BestBenefit plans; Group Discount not available in AK, HI, or TN; Weblink Discount applies to first policy term only; not available in AK, FL, HI, or TN. Additional 5% discount applied if insuring more than one pet. Maximum allowable discount is 12%.

Pet insurance coverage is offered and administered by Pets Best Insurance Services, LLC and is underwritten by American Pet Insurance Company, a New York insurance company.