A Safe Thanksgiving Dinner For Dogs: Tips And Treats

Before turning your leftovers into a Thanksgiving dinner for dogs, ensure you know which foods are safe for your pup and which to avoid.

place settings on long wooden table for thanksgiving dinner

Want to Enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner with Your Dog?

With so many magical flavors and irresistible aromas, it’s very understandable that many pet parents want to share this elaborate holiday meal with their pup. However, there are some important considerations when it comes to a Thanksgiving dinner for dogs.

No time to read all the details now? Here’s a Thanksgiving food safety reference that you can save for later.

list of thanksgiving foods that are safe to share with dogs and list of foods that are dangerous

The reality is, aside from the cooked turkey, virtually none of your leftover side dishes should find their way into your pup’s bowl.

The culprit? Well, it comes down to the types of ingredients typically added to Thanksgiving side dishes and desserts – butter, salt, seasonings, and sugar. Not only are these additions not the healthiest for your dog’s diet, but some can be just plain dangerous.

thanksgiving dinner table full of food

But, have no fear! It is still very possible for your pup to enjoy many of the flavors of fall.

Thanksgiving Foods that Are Safe to Share

Many of the whole ingredients that go into making an epic Thanksgiving dinner are fantastic foods that will bring health benefits to your pup.

You just need to plan ahead a bit.

As you are prepping your side dishes, put aside some of the following ingredients BEFORE you add in all the butter, salt, and seasonings. As you’ll see, there are plenty of options to create a dog-friendly Thanksgiving feast.

thanksgiving foods that are safe for dogs displayed on wooden serving board

Xtra Health Tip: Always check with your veterinarian before introducing new foods. Like people, all dogs are different, and their tolerance for these ingredients depends on numerous factors including age, allergies, health conditions, and more.

Turkey, Cooked

A lean source of protein, turkey is an excellent, tasty addition to your dog’s diet.

Pumpkin, Cooked

High in fiber and low in fat, pumpkin aids digestion and can be a tasty addition to your pup’s meal.

Ensure that you only feed your pup 100% pure pumpkin puree, NOT pumpkin pie filling.

Libby’s has been my go-to pumpkin puree brand for my entire life. And they now have an 100% organic pumpkin option that you can get here from Amazon.

Sweet Potatoes, Cooked

Packed with vitamins and fiber, sweet potatoes make a nutritious, energy-boosting treat.

Either diced or as a puree, vibrant and delicious sweet potatoes are a must when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner for dogs!

Potatoes, Cooked

Packed with essential nutrients like potassium and vitamins C and B6, plain potatoes can be a nutritious and wholesome addition to your dog’s Thanksgiving meal.

Just like sweet potatoes, these can be served in chunks or mashed.

Carrots, Raw or Cooked

Low in calories and high in essential nutrients such as vitamin A, beta-carotene, and fiber, carrots support your dog’s vision, immune system, and digestive health.

Green Beans and Peas, Raw or Cooked

Both of these are excellent sources of fiber and essential vitamins, promoting digestive health and providing valuable nutrients.

Apples, Raw or Cooked

Apples are a nutritious option for dogs, offering a good source of dietary fiber and essential vitamins.

However, it’s crucial to remove the skin and core as they can pose a choking hazard. Additionally, the seeds contain cyanide, which is toxic to dogs.

Xtra Eco Tip: When buying your produce this Thanksgiving, skip the plastic bag. Place the weight sticker directly on your fruits and veggies or invest in reusable produce bags like these from Amazon.

Cranberries, Fresh or Frozen

Rich in antioxidants, cranberries contribute to a healthy immune system and overall well-being.

Make sure to opt for fresh or frozen fruit, as dehydrated cranberries are loaded with sugar.

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Thanksgiving Foods that Are Not Dog-Friendly

most dangerous foods to dogs on wood serving board

Turkey Skin and Bones

Turkey skin and bones can be harmful to dogs as the skin is often fatty and can lead to pancreatitis. And bones pose a choking hazard and may splinter, causing internal damage.

Seasoned Side Dishes

High in fats and potentially containing harmful ingredients, traditional Thanksgiving side dishes are not suitable for dogs.


Desserts pose a risk for dogs as they can contribute to weight gain and digestive upset.

Additionally, dangers arise from raw dough, which can expand in a dog’s stomach, and the presence of xylitol, a sugar substitute that is highly toxic to our four-legged friends.

apple pie on thanksgiving dinner table
pumpkin pie on thanksgiving dinner table


Gravy is a less-than-ideal choice because of its high salt content and the presence of seasonings, which can lead to adverse health effects, including sodium toxicity and digestive issues.

Onions, Garlic, Leeks, Scallions, and Chives

These ingredients contain compounds that can damage a dog’s red blood cells, leading to anemia, weakness, and other serious health issues.

Grapes, Raisins, and Currants

Ingesting these fruits can cause vomiting, lethargy, and, in extreme cases, kidney failure.


Sage contains essential oils and compounds that can lead to digestive issues, upset stomach, and central nervous system effects.

Cinnamon and Nutmeg

These popular Thanksgiving spices can lead to stomach upset, nausea, and even more severe reactions.

Macadamia Nuts

Even in small quantities, macadamia nuts can cause weakness, vomiting, and hyperthermia.


Chocolate is toxic to dogs due to the presence of theobromine and caffeine. Ingesting chocolate can lead to various health issues, including vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate, and, in severe cases, seizures or even death.


Alcohol poses a severe threat to dogs, leading to symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, and even coma.

thanksgiving dinner table with wildflower place setting, wine, and stuffing


Due to its caffeine content, coffee can result in hyperactivity, restlessness, increased heart rate, and in severe cases, it may lead to tremors or seizures in dogs.

Xtra Health Tip: Make sure you are familiar with foods that are dangerous for dogs in general. You can read all about the top 10 most dangerous foods in my blog post here.

Turn Thanksgiving Dinner into an Unforgettable Dog Treat

No doubt that your pup will love any wholesome Thanksgiving foods you offer.

But, if you are looking to make your dog’s Thanksgiving experience even more unforgettable, you can combine a few healthy ingredients into a flavorful treat!

For inspiration, check out my recipe for Thanksgiving turkey and sweet potato dog treats here.

It is super simple to make, and your pup will know they are loved and appreciated. My dogs went absolutely nuts for this homemade creation!

mixed breed dog eating thanksgiving dog treat
paw and bone shaped homemade thanksgiving dog treats
pug mix dog eating thanksgiving dog treat

Xtra Health Tip: Whenever serving treats, remember the 90/10 rule. At least 90% of your pup’s daily calories should come from balanced meals, leaving no more than 10% for the fun stuff.

FAQs: Thanksgiving Dinner for Dogs

Can dogs eat turkey, and if so, how should it be prepared?

Yes, dogs can eat turkey, but it should be served plain without any seasoning or bones. Avoid giving them turkey skin, as it can be fatty and difficult to digest.

Additionally, make sure the turkey is fully cooked to prevent the risk of salmonella contamination.

Is it safe for dogs to eat mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes?

Plain mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes are generally safe for dogs in moderation. However, avoid giving them mashed potatoes with added ingredients like butter, milk, or seasoning, as these can be harmful.

Also, ensure that the potatoes are cooked thoroughly and don’t contain any additional toppings like onions or garlic, which are toxic to dogs.

Can dogs have cranberry sauce or gravy?

While plain cranberries are safe for dogs in small amounts, cranberry sauce often contains added sugars and other ingredients that can be harmful to dogs.

Gravy, especially if it contains onions, garlic, or other seasonings, should also be avoided. Stick to plain, unseasoned foods when sharing Thanksgiving dishes with your dog.

Are there any Thanksgiving foods that dogs should avoid entirely?

Yes, there are several Thanksgiving foods that dogs should avoid entirely, including onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, chocolate, nuts, and anything containing xylitol (a sugar substitute). These foods can be toxic to dogs and may cause severe health issues or even be fatal if ingested.

How can I include my dog in the Thanksgiving celebration safely?

You can include your dog in the Thanksgiving celebration safely by preparing special dog-friendly dishes or these Thanksgiving-inspired treats using pet-safe ingredients. Additionally, you can involve them in outdoor activities like walks or hikes to burn off excess energy and prevent them from getting into potentially harmful foods or decorations.

Always supervise your dog closely during the festivities and keep potentially hazardous items out of their reach.

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