What not to feed your pet: 8 Thanksgiving foods to avoid

Hide your pies, hide your spices — you do not want your fur baby getting anywhere near these holiday treats. 

Pop Art Beagle Refuses to Eat

Thanksgiving dinner tends to bring your nearest and dearest together. That includes some very important family members — our pets. If you’re blessed enough to have a fur baby of your own joining you for dinner, you will already know that you have a battle of wills on your hands. With all the holiday cheer going around, it is tempting to hand your pet just a smidge of food from the table. After all, who can ignore a golden retriever beaming lasers into your soul from under the table?

If you’re the type to give in to your cat’s plaintive cries and sneak them some cheese, no judgment. But before you do, you need to know what foods you should definitely keep away from your beloved fur baby/sibling — laser beams be damned.

Raw turkey is terrible

The bird is the star of Thanksgiving. Golden brown and juicy, cooked turkey is a perfectly fine treat for your cat or dog. Raw meat, on the other hand, can contain harmful bacteria like Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes, warns the United States Food and Drug Administration. The FDA has even had to recall a few trendy raw meat pet foods.

dog with cooked turkey
The star of the family meets the star of the meal. 

Before you stick your bird in the oven, make sure you keep it far away from your pets. Especially if it’s still alive. (Homeward Bound, anyone?)

Nuts are a no-no

The holidays can get nutty in more ways than one. Pecan pie, walnut dressing, and roasted chestnuts (very traditional) can all find their way on to the Thanksgiving table. For the most part, these aren’t a huge problem for cats. But if there’s a dog around, you need to be very careful.

Almonds, pecans, and walnuts are all little storehouses of oil and fat. That can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and even pancreatitis in pets, reports the ASPCA. So if you’re breaking out the pecans, maybe lock Fifi in the other room.

Bad baked goods

Baking from scratch this year? We salute you. But just like it does in the oven (hopefully), yeasted dough can rise in your pet’s stomach, causing gas to build up in the digestive system. The uncomfortable, potentially painful experience can make your pet’s stomach bloat or even twist — both can be life-threatening, the ASPCA warns.

To make matters worse, yeast can produce ethanol in your pet’s stomach — so your dog can get drunk from eating raw dough. Read on to find out why alcohol is bad for pets, but trust us: the outcome isn’t pleasant.

Rank raisins

The holidays seem trigger people into chucking dried fruit in everything. Salads, stuffing, rice — these are all dishes that don’t tend to feature, yet come November, there they are, adding a festive touch.

Raisins (and their non-dried counterpart, grapes) are a big no for both cats and dogs. These delicious morsels are toxic for the non-humans at the table. They can even lead to sudden kidney failure in dogs, reports the American Kennel Club.

Onions are out

Onion plays an under-appreciated role in the holiday meal. The flavor rounds out all that butter in your savory Thanksgiving dishes, and it is a critical stuffing ingredient. But keep the fur babies and onions — and the stuffing — apart.

Alliums of all kinds — whether they be Spanish onions, garlic, shallots, leeks, or chives — are toxic to cats and dogs. Of all the onion products to watch for, one stands out. Onion powder is particularly potent — and it’s in a ton of holiday foods, including soups and casseroles.

Onions are dangerous for pets because they break down red blood cells and cause anemia. If you think your pooch just can’t be trusted, then it might be best to avoid the family* altogether. Alliums, that is. Not your own.

Butter be-gone

Speaking of buttery Thanksgiving dishes… on the whole, dairy is not great for pets. Like many humans, dogs and cats can be lactose intolerant.

Just like your own approach the Thanksgiving spread, moderation is key: If you know your pet doesn’t have problems with lactose, then a little bit of milk-based food is OK. A large bowl of whole milk? Not good.

If you’re feeling betrayed by pretty much every ‘cats lapping cream’ motif ever, we get it. But as cute as it looks, your kitty (or pup) will be better off without the stomach cramps and gassiness dairy can cause them.

Back away from the booze

This one may seem obvious. This rule apply to all pets, and not just cats and dogs. But really, how easy is it to accidentally leave your wine glass unattended when you run into the kitchen to check on the green beans?

When animals drink alcohol, it leads to severe liver and brain damage, according to PetMD. It doesn’t take much: just a tablespoon of liquor can put an adult cat into a coma.

Keep cats away from alcohol, for more than one reason. 

Do your pets a favor and keep the booze far away from them. You’ll save yourself a panicked Google search, and, if nothing else, a big mess. (It might also be a good idea to keep an eye on your human family members’ consumption, lest we repeat the Great Turkey Fryer Incident of 2007…)

Never nutmeg

Ah, nutmeg. You sit forgotten on spice racks all year and then, your moment comes. It is the darling of Thanksgiving dessert and the very essence of pumpkin spice. Nutmeg might stoke the warm and fuzzy feelings in your heart, but for dogs, eating it could prove fatal.

Short of death, the spice can wreak havoc on your pet’s stomach and nervous system. It can also lead to a very aggressive case of zoomies.

“A dog may become overly excited after eating nutmeg, and then become exhausted and drained,” according to Cecily Sailer in Rover.

If you simply can’t handle your pupper missing out on the fun of autumnal spiced foods, Rover has a nutmeg-free pumpkin spice dog treat recipe just for you.

“Bone” appétit!

  • We know alliums aren’t a family, they are a genus. We went there anyway.