Dog Training

Which Thanksgiving Leftovers are Safe to Feed My Dog? (plus a bonus dog-friendly recipe!)

dog with veggies

It’s Thanksgiving and the tables are so filled with food that it’s nearly impossible to find a secure spot for that last place setting. Family is arriving from near and far, cheerful and ready to go in their expandable trousers. Christmas decorations are beginning to appear, festive music is beginning to play and countless Black Friday ads are piling up on counters. Your dog is either hiding away, wishing that the excitement would quickly end or enthusiastically jumping on and/or running circles around your guests wondering why this doesn’t happen year round. 

The holidays are an exciting time that most people look forward to all year. Whether it’s the break from work, the festive music and decorations, the holiday sales or the food, most people enjoy Thanksgiving and view it as a prelude to the forthcoming celebratory season. For anyone who has ever devoted a good portion of their week to making a Thanksgiving dinner, you will probably know the feeling of staring into your cabinets after the meal had finished, wishing that you had bought stock in Tupperware. 

Now it’s Friday and most of your guests are no longer there. Your fridge is stocked to the brim with seemingly enough food to get you through an apocalypse (if only it wasn’t perishable) and you will probably be eating turkey and stuffing every meal for the next week. As you’re pouring dog food into their bowl on Friday morning, you may find yourself wondering… “I wonder which of the leftovers I can add to this?” 

Fear not! We’ve created a guide for which standard Thanksgiving foods are safe to feed your pup, along with a fun Thanksgiving leftover dog friendly recipe.

So which foods are safe?

Turkey: Turkey might seem like a straightforward “yes,” but it isn’t always. Although turkey is normally fine to feed a dog, some dogs are allergic to particular protein sources. If your pup has ever exhibited skin issues or diarrhea after eating a turkey based food before, be cautious about sharing the meat with them. Also, some dogs (typically older dogs or certain breeds) do not effectively digest fat and it can cause severe gastrointestinal upset.

If your dog has had GI issues in the past, or if they could lose a few pounds, opt for white meat instead of dark. Finally, avoid feeding too much skin or skin that has been seasoned.

Ham: Ham is also safe for most dogs to consume in moderation. If you do decide to add some to your dog’s food, make sure that you choose a portion that has not be seasoned and trim off any fat that may be attached to the meat.

Stuffing: It’s all in the ingredients. Bread is typically safe for dogs to consume in reasonable portions, and so are butter (in small quantities) and eggs. Many stuffing recipes include garlic, onions or scallions, alongside a variety of other herbs. Garlic and onions are extremely toxic to dogs and can quickly destroy their red blood cells. For this reason, we recommend keeping stuffing as far from your dog as possible.

Mashed Potatoes: Although baked or boiled potatoes are typically safe to feed dogs in small quantities, mashed potatoes typically contain significant amounts of cream, butter, and sometimes onion or garlic powder. For this reason, we do not recommend sharing mashed potatoes with your pooch. 

Sweet Potatoes: Plain, baked sweet potatoes are very safe to feed dogs. Steer clear of marshmallowy sweet potato casseroles or any variation that may have significant amounts of added sugar. Ensure that no xylitol has been added to any sweetened dish, including sweet potatoes! 

Cranberry Sauce: Contrary to what people may believe, cranberry sauce is usually safe to feed your dog. The key is to keep portions very small, mostly because commercial cranberry sauces are laden with sugar syrups (which are not good for your dog). 

Corn: Corn is a very common ingredient in most dog foods, so as long as it is either boiled or baked and removed from the husk, corn is a safe Thanksgiving food. Steer clear of cream corn, corn with sauces, or any type of corn dish that may contain onions, garlic or xylitol. 

Bread and rolls: Provided they are not “flavored” with garlic, onions, raisins or any other questionable ingredients, bread and rolls are safe to feed dogs in small portions. Think the plainer, the better.

Vegetables: Steamed green beans, asparagus, carrots, and corn are safe for dogs to consume, provided they have not had spices added to them. Steer clear of creamy casseroles and veggies with sauce or seasoning added to them. 

Turkey Bones: As much as you might want to dispose of your turkey carcass by feeding it to the famished, eager wolf living in your home, please don’t. Cooked bones are extremely dangerous to dogs and can splinter, becoming lodged in your dog’s throat, stomach or intestinal tract. Cooked bones can also tear or puncture the intestinal tract or stomach, which has been known to cause fatal infection. Even if the bone makes it through the intestines and stomach, they can obstruct the bowel and result in indigestion and vomiting. 

Pumpkin: Canned pumpkin is very safe for dogs, and can actually aid digestion. Although pumpkin pie does not typically contain any ingredients that are toxic to dogs, it typically contains a lot of sugar. For this reason we do not typically recommend feeding it to your pup. 

Whipped cream: Whipped cream is safe to feed dogs (provided they are not lactose intolerant) in small amounts. Think Starbucks Pupaccino! 

Other Dishes: Many people like to use Thanksgiving as an outlet for their culinary creativity. When trying to decide whether to feed your dog a certain food, take into account the general rules outlined above and apply them to the dish under consideration. 

You may also want to play it safe and read our Six Foods Your Dog Can’t Eat article before making a decision. Remember: when in doubt, don’t.

Easy Thanksgiving Leftovers Dinner Recipe for Dogs

– 4-6 oz turkey (can be a mixture of light and dark meat)
– 1 small baked sweet potato
– 2 tbsp cranberry sauce
– Another vegetable if available (boiled carrot slices, corn or peas) OR 1 cup cooked oatmeal.

  1. Peel baked sweet potato and cut into cubes.
  2. Chop pieces of cooked turkey into pieces.
  3. Add vegetables and top with cranberry sauce. 
  4. Voila! Transfer to your pup’s bowl and watch them enjoy. 

Thanksgiving is a day to enjoy time with loved ones and to be thankful for all of our blessings. Dogs have been a dedicated partner to humans for thousands of years, and it is up to us to show them how appreciated they are. Happy Thanksgiving!

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