Thanksgiving Safety Tips


Thanksgiving is a time for friends, family and holiday feasts—but can also be a very hectic day. With so much going on, curious pets often find a way to snoop where they shouldn’t, so it’s important to keep them top of mind while giving thanks.

Check out the following tips from our experts at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) for a fulfilling Thanksgiving that your pets can enjoy, too!

  • Just a Taste: While we recommend sticking to your pet’s normal diet on Thanksgiving, we understand that even our furry friends can’t resist the smell of a delicious turkey or other festive dishes. If you do decide to feed your pet a small bite of turkey or other meat, make sure it’s boneless and fully cooked. Raw or undercooked turkey may contain salmonella bacteria and poultry bones can be a major choking hazard.

Make sure you are mindful of the ingredients and spices in your food as well. Onions and garlic are both prevalent in a lot of Thanksgiving dishes and can be toxic to pets. Bouillon cubes used for making stocks and gravy contain high amounts of sodium which can lead to gastrointestinal problems and even seizures. Raw yeast bread dough can also be toxic to pets. The raw dough can expand in the stomach, causing them to become bloated, and the ethanol (alcohol) will be absorbed by the body, leading to drunkenness and other serious side effects. You can find more information about potential food toxins with the APCC’s full list.

  • Don't Let Them Eat Cake: If you plan to bake Thanksgiving desserts, be sure your pets keep their noses out of the batter, especially if it includes raw eggs—they could contain salmonella bacteria that may lead to food poisoning. Desserts containing artificial sweeteners, like xylitol, can cause low blood sugar, liver damage or even death. Chocolate is also a major hazard to our four-legged friends and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death.
  • A Feast Fit for a King: While your family enjoys a special meal, give your cat and dog a small feast of their own. try mixing some pieces of turkey, sweet potatoes and green beans into their usual dinner. You can even top it off with a drizzle of gravy. You can also opt to stuff their Thanksgiving treats into a puzzle toy to keep them occupied during your meal.
  • Watch out for Guests and Holiday Decor: If you are hosting guests, just remember that more people in your home may be overwhelming for pets. Try leaving a few blankets on the floor or a bedroom door open so they have a quiet place to curl up and relax. Additionally, keep in mind that your guests may have personal items, like medication, on them. Pets ingesting medication is all too common and can be very dangerous. Remind your guests to keep their personal items up and out of paws’ reach.

You will also want to pay attention to the holiday decorations, like floral arrangements and plants. Use the APCC toxic plants list to know what to look out for.

  • Don’t Forget to Take Out the Trash: This may be the last thing on your mind while trying to keep up in the kitchen, but your garbage can fill up with bones, chocolate, onions and plenty of other holiday hazards mentioned above. Try to remember to empty your trash throughout the day so that curious pets don’t get into trouble. Or, do your best to keep your pet out of the area where the trash is.
  • Be Kind to All Animals on Thanksgiving: It can be hard to navigate grocery stores during the busy holiday season, and it can sometimes feel even harder to navigate confusing labels on animal products. Not all companies are humane, so if you plan to purchase meat, eggs or dairy this Thanksgiving, be sure to look for welfare-certified products and try to Shop with Your Heart with our helpful resources. You can also use our Grocery List with many items available online or at supermarkets across the country.

If you suspect your pet may have ingested a toxic substance, please contact your veterinarian or call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 immediately.