The traditions of Thanksgiving usually include family, fun, and lots of food. And because many pet parents consider their dogs and cats to be part of the family, pets are often included in these Thanksgiving festivities. However, food is one part of the holiday you’ll want to keep a close eye on if you plan to include your pets. That’s because our pets aren’t able to enjoy all the same foods that we enjoy. Which Thanksgiving foods should we not serve to our pets? Keep your pets healthy this Thanksgiving by taking note of these five foods – common at Thanksgiving meals – that you should avoid giving to your pets.

Turkey bones

The food most often shared with pets at Thanksgiving is the turkey. While plain, skinless turkey meat is OK for dogs and cats, be sure to remove any bones from the meat. Turkey (and chicken) bones can splinter when they’re cut or chewed. Bone splinters can damage the lining of the stomach and intestines, causing an infection called peritonitis, which can be fatal.

Turkey skin

Because of its fat content, the skin on turkey meat may cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs and cats. Some pets also can develop pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) from turkey skin, so remember to remove or avoid turkey skin altogether for your pets’ Thanksgiving dinner.

Seasonings and spices

Most notable for pets to avoid among ingredients in popular Thanksgiving dishes are members of the allium family of plants: onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, chives, and scallions. Any of these seasonings can be toxic to both dogs and cats. As well, the popular holiday spices of cinnamon and nutmeg can cause vomiting, diarrhea, low blood sugar, and heart rate changes.

Grapes and raisins

Dogs especially tend to be prone to health risks from eating grapes or raisins, but cats and other pets may be at risk too for poisoning from grapes and grape products. In addition to producing abdominal pain, loss of appetite, and diarrhea, some varieties of grapes can also cause kidney failure.


The popular notion that chocolate can be poisonous or fatal to dogs has some truth in it. While a tiny amount may not be harmful, a compound in chocolate called theobromine (also found in tea and cola) can cause vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate, or elevated blood pressure, which can be fatal. To be on the safe side, it’s best for all pets to avoid chocolate altogether.

Help to make your holiday times like Thanksgiving safe and happy for your pets! Include them in your festivities but avoid giving them these five foods that can make them sick. Do you still have questions about your pets’ health? Contact Pet Wow’s mobile Home Veterinary Care at 513-738-9691 or email us at [email protected]. Our experienced staff can help you. We have served the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area for more than 20 years. For more pet care tips, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or LinkedIn!