South Florida

Thanksgiving and Pets: Sharing The Feast

What to Know

  • Surely we understand that no matter how many times that one family member is told not to feed the pets from the table, they will do it.

Every year, our clinic goes to great lengths to warn pet owners of the dangers of holiday table foods. And every year, we’re good-naturedly accused of being holiday killjoys.

Thanksgiving is all about family - furry family members included. And who can resist those wide, sweet doe eyes as they longingly gaze upon our ample feasts? Surely a few morsels are okay. Surely we understand that no matter how many times that one family member is told not to feed the pets from the table, they will do it anyway.

Pet parents, I have heard your pleas.

This article is not an endorsement of home-cooked pet diets or a recommendation to shop for specific pet food ingredients. Rather, it’s a list of popular Thanksgiving staples which, given in small amounts, are safe for pets with no prior history of food allergies or sensitivities. So let’s start with the main course.


Pets can safely enjoy a small morsel of roasted turkey. Fried turkey is off-limits due to its high fat content. The same holds true for skin, fat, and pan drippings. Pets should not eat turkey that has been basted in butter or seasoned with onions, garlic, chives, or other plants in the allium family.


If you’re making a pumpkin pie from scratch, feel free to share the main ingredient. Pumpkin is naturally high in fiber and Vitamin A, making it a healthy and tasty addition to your pet’s diet. While canned varieties are just as good, be certain the ingredients are 100% pumpkin as opposed to pumpkin pie filling. Pie filling is loaded with sugar, dairy, fat, and harmful additives so don’t be fooled by labels.


If apple pie is on the menu, apples can be shared as well. Cut them into small pieces and strip them of seeds, stems and cores before giving them to your pet. Do not feed the sugar-laden canned versions of apple pie filling.

Sweet Potatoes

Like pumpkins, sweet potatoes are rich in Vitamin A. They may also have anti-inflammatory properties which can help pets struggling with arthritis and joint pain. Pets should not eat sweet potatoes that have been seasoned, sweetened, or buttered.


Most green vegetables are safe for pets, provided they have not been seasoned or buttered. Green beans are a big hit at Casa Kupkee. Onions, garlic, shallots, or any member of the allium family must never be given to pets.


The canned, sugary, gelatinous cranberry sauce that maintains the shape of the can is strictly off limits to pets. If, however, you make your own cranberry sauce using actual cranberries, go ahead and share them before adding other ingredients to the sauce. Cranberries are high in Vitamin C and antioxidants and can help pets struggling with lowered immune systems and urinary tract issues.


Cooked rice will not harm your pet, provided it has not been buttered, seasoned, or flavored with onions. Brown rice and wild rice is more nutritionally dense than white rice.

Serving Suggestion

Many pets amuse themselves during dinner by foraging in the kitchen for bones, scraps and cooking debris. To keep Fluffy from getting into mischief, try putting her holiday treats in a food puzzle toy.

Perhaps the most important tip of all...have fun! Happy Thanksgiving from all your friends at Sabal Chase Animal Clinic and NBC 6 South Florida!

Dr. Kupkee is the lead practitioner at Sabal Chase Animal Clinic

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