The question likely is asked every year – Is it okay to share your Thanksgiving feast with your pets? The answer is not a simple yes or no. Many of the foods you eat on Thanksgiving are okay for dogs and cats to eat, but that does not mean your pet will tolerate them well. It’s important to know how your pets handle different foods and limit the quantity that you offer them to avoid stomach upset.

If you generally do not offer your pet people food, you may consider mixing a small portion with your cat or dog’s regular meal. This will facilitate better digestion and will help you gauge the right amount of food to give him. Also remember to check the turkey carefully for bones and skin and remove them before offering it to your pet.

Worried that sharing your feast will encourage begging from your pet? Put your pet’s share in his or her food bowl rather than offering scraps from the table, which could send the signal that what you are eating is fair game.

Thanksgiving foods your pet can eat

  • Turkey

  • Sweet potato or yams

  • Canned pureed pumpkin

  • Apples (no seeds)

  • Raw or steamed veggies

  • Rice (brown, white, or wild)

Remember that many Thanksgiving casseroles and dishes contain ingredients that may not be appropriate for your pet. Take precautions, ask family members about dishes they brought, or set food aside for your pet in its simplest form to avoid giving your pet something that could make him sick.

Foods and ingredients your pet should not eat

  • Turkey bones, gristle and skin

  • Butters, oils and creams

  • Nuts

  • Sweets, such as pie or cake

  • Onions (can be toxic)

  • Garlic (can be toxic)

  • Mushrooms (some may be toxic)

  • Some herbs, such as sage and nutmeg

For both dogs and cats, it is important to limit the amount of carbs they eat. Dogs may eat a greater variety of foods while cats are carnivores and will probably favor a small helping of turkey.

Never offer your pet alcohol or anything with caffeine.

Your pet can enjoy a healthy variety of foods with you on Thanksgiving provided you take care and practice portion control. Enjoy your day!