Consumer Tips

Six Thanksgiving Foods That Are Bad for Cats and Dogs

If you plan to include your pets in your Thanksgiving celebration keep in mind that some foods are not suitable for dogs and cats. Keep them healthy and safe by not feeding them these six foods. 


Thanksgiving is almost here and that means an abundance of delicious food. However, many popular human dishes aren’t healthy for pets to consume. It’s important to remember which foods are bad for dogs and cats. Especially, during holiday meals when dogs and cats beg for table scraps and guests might fall for those cute faces. Below are six Thanksgiving foods bad for cats and dogs. Make sure to keep these away from your pets to ensure they remain healthy this Thanksgiving. Also, don’t forget to inform your family and dinner guests about these potentially dangerous or toxic foods for pets so they do not feed them to your four-legged family members.

  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. Mashed Potatoes 
    While potatoes are safe for pets to eat, mashed potatoes usually contain butter and milk, which can cause diarrhea in lactose intolerant pets. Additionally, some recipes call for onion powder or garlic, which are very toxic to pets.
     
  5. 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.
     
  6. 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.

If your pets ingest any of these foods this Thanksgiving, 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. Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

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.

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

Pet insurance offered and administered by Pets Best Insurance Services, LLC is underwritten by American Pet Insurance Company (APIC) or Independence American Insurance Company (IAIC). Please visit www.americanpetinsurance.com to review all available pet health insurance products underwritten by APIC.”