top of page

Read, Write, Grow, Flourish

Blueberry Bear Tales

10 Thanksgiving Foods Not to Feed Your Pets

by Susan Bird/

Keep your pets safe this holiday season.


Feeding pets small bits of white meat, the leanest type of meat, is fine. However, don’t offer your dog or cat any turkey skin.

You may not realize how it has been seasoned, and that may be a fatal mistake. If the turkey has spent hours being rubbed and basted in things like onion, sage and garlic, the skin has been soaking up the very ingredients that are most toxic to dogs and cats. In addition, salmonella is a real threat if you toss your pet a piece of raw or undercooked meat. Just don’t do it.


The ingredients that go into gravies and stuffing can be a cornucopia of toxicity for dogs and cats. How do you make yours?

If you use mushrooms, onions, sage, leeks, chives, garlic, scallions, pepper or a variety of other ingredients, don’t even think about giving stuffing or gravy to your dogs and cats.

Many of these ingredients are downright toxic to their little systems, while others won’t kill them but will make them very uncomfortable if eaten to excess. Sage in particular — a seasoning we use quite a bit at Thanksgiving — gives cats an upset tummy and messes with their central nervous systems.


Cranberries themselves are fine for pets. Indeed, you’ll find them as ingredients in some commercial pet foods. Cranberries fight urinary tract infections and contain a number of healthy vitamins. When cranberries are turned into a holiday sauce, however, at lot of that goodness goes out the window.

Canned cranberry sauces contain huge amounts of sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Look at the label if that surprises you. Even homemade sauces go heavy on the sugar. Homemade versions also contain ingredients you might not know about that are bad for animals, such as raisins and certain nuts.

The bottom line here is be careful about any cranberry sauce you give to your pets.


Regular green beans make a nice, healthy snack for Rover or Mr. Tinkles. It’s when they go into a flavorful Thanksgiving casserole that the problems begin. Other common ingredients for green bean casserole include mushroom soup and a fried onion topping. Dogs and cats can’t have those ingredients, so no spoonfuls of casserole, please.


This one should go without saying, but it’s good to be reminded every year. Never feed cooked bones to your pets. At best, they can cause vomiting. At worst, they splinter easily, injuring or even puncture the stomach and intestines.


Remember what happens to dough when it gets warm? It rises. And you don’t want that happening inside the stomach of a dog or cat. There will be vomiting and painful abdominal bloating. Bread dough and cake batter also often contain raw eggs, which can carry salmonella. Neither pets nor humans should eat these things in their raw state.

Yes, cookie dough batter, I’m talking to you, too. Sorry.


Potatoes all by themselves are fine in moderation. What you need to watch out for are all the ingredients that go into the mashed version. If your pet is lactose intolerant, the milk and butter you’re adding can give your furry friend diarrhea and an upset tummy.

In addition, watch out for flavorings. Any added garlic or onion, even in powder form, is toxic to animals.


Be careful when friends and family bring over their scrumptious Waldorf salad — or any salad with fruits. If there are grapes or raisins in the mix, your pet can’t have any. Grapes can cause serious and sometimes fatal kidney problems for dogs. Watch for the nuts, too.


Many nuts are fine for dogs in moderation, but walnuts and macadamia nuts decidedly are not. Macadamia nut toxicosis can cause neurological symptoms, vomiting and lethargy. Walnuts can cause gastric problems and may contain mycotoxins that cause seizures and neurological symptoms.

Because of their fatty content, even other types of nuts if fed too often can cause problems like pancreatitis over time. Be careful and judicious about nuts.


Pumpkin and sweet potatoes are just fine for pets, especially dogs. In fact, veterinarians often recommend feeding raw pumpkin to settle a nervous digestive system. Sweet potatoes turn out to be better for animals — and us — than other potatoes because of their lower glycemic index. However, the holiday pies, casseroles and yam dishes made with these ingredients are a different story.

Most recipes for pumpkin pie and sweet potato pie call for nutmeg and cinnamon. While humans love nutmeg for all sorts of reasons, it’s dangerous for dogs. Nutmeg contains a toxin called myristicin, which in large amounts can cause seizures and problems with the central nervous system.

Cinnamon — if ingested in large powdered amounts or via an essential oil — can cause diarrhea, liver disease, vomiting and low blood sugar. Dogs that eat too much can even die, so keep those pies out of reach and don’t feed forkfuls to your best friend. In particular, keep the ingredient bottles well away from pets, too.

10 views0 comments


bottom of page