Is It Okay to Give Thanksgiving Leftovers to Dogs?

on November 02, 2021

giving Thanksgiving Leftovers to Dogs

If Thanksgiving is about great food and gratitude, of course we think of our dogs. Often, our furry family members are our favorite, and we are so thankful for them. They also like food! But is it really okay to give some of that delicious Thanksgiving dinner to our dogs?

Yes and no. 

There may be ways to share the festivities, but it’s also possible to harm our dog with those yummies.

Read on and learn why, and what to do about it.

What Happens to a Dog Who Eats Table Scraps?

Before dog food got invented, dogs just ate people food. After all, dog food has only been around since the late 1800’s, and dogs have been our best friends a lot longer than that!

So if dogs used to eat table scraps, can’t they eat our Thanksgiving leftovers?

True, dog food is a more recent human invention than the taming of the canine. But back then dogs were mostly farm dogs, and there were lots of other farm animals. Dogs didn’t necessarily eat dog food, but they did have designated food. When the farmer would feed the livestock, the dog would get dinner too.

But human food now is often processed or fatty. Our dogs are used to a consistent diet. When a dog’s diet changes or it eats human food, they can get GI problems, GI obstructions, or disease.

What GI Problems Do Dogs Get from Human Food?

Dogs have fairly simple digestive systems, and change can upset them. A dog who eats human food may experience:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomachaches
  • Lack of appetite
  • Skin problems (allergic skin reactions)
  • Lethargy

Some of these symptoms are just a natural response to a toxin--vomiting or diarrhea is a way to get rid of something that stresses the body. In a way, this response is because that human food can be like poison to a dog!

GI Obstructions

One of the biggest problems with leftovers has to do with bones--they can break and poke! Bird bones in particular (like turkey) are brittle. Cooking them dries them out and makes them more brittle. 

A dog who consumes Thanksgiving leftovers may eat something, like a brittle bone, that can cause internal damage, such as a GI obstruction.

If you suspect that your dog has a GI obstruction, seek emergency veterinary care! 

Disease from Human Food

In addition to the allergies and digestive distresses already described, human food can cause serious disease in our pets. 

Kidney distress or kidney failure can occur in dogs from consuming foods that might be perfectly okay for humans. Pancreatitis in dogs has been linked to the consumption of fatty foods, like human food.

What Human Food Can Dogs Eat?

Okay, so no food that might have bones. What other foods might be toxic to our dog? 

Human foods containing any of the following may be toxic to dogs:

  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Raisins
  • Grapes
  • Chocolate
  • Avocado
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Xylitol (a sweetener)

As you can see, many Thanksgiving foods might include something from this list, such as being seasoned with garlic or have some sort of onions or chives in or on them.

There are, however, a few things you can give your pet, so long as they are free from the ingredients listed above. Traditional Thanksgiving foods you can give your dog include:

  • Turkey breast (no bones or legs!)
  • Peas
  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes or yams
  • Corn (not on the cob, which could cause a bowel obstruction)
  • Green beans
  • Tomatoes

As previously described, however, excessive human food may not be good for your dog. And if your dog has had trouble with human food before, or with switching food, even these “okay foods” may not be okay for your pet.

One other point to consider: begging. When we feed a dog from the table, we encourage bad behavior, like begging or whining.

How Can We Celebrate Thanksgiving with Our Pets?

There are lots of ways for our dogs to be included in Thanksgiving, without risking their health and causing begging!

For one, we can give them something from the okay foods listed above, just in moderation. If given as a treat, such as when obeying a command, Thanksgiving leftovers can be used to encourage good behavior!

Other pet owners make bone broth for their dogs (you strain out the bones before serving!). 

Other Treats this Thanksgiving

Tell your pet you are grateful for them this Thanksgiving in your own way! You could give them an extra long walk or additional play time with you. Or try some delicious Bad Dog CBD treats as a reward for being an extra good dog!

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Hip & Joint for Dogs Tincture

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