FiDos and FiDon’ts of Thanksgiving for Pets

Close up of dog

Contributed photo.

By Amie Knowles

November 24, 2021

Before you sneak a piece of turkey under the table, doublechecking the “dos and don’ts” of table scraps might come in handy.

If you’re a pet lover, you might look forward to giving Fido a special treat on Thanksgiving. Before you sneak a piece of turkey under the table, doublechecking the “dos and don’ts” of table scraps might come in handy—and help avoid a vet visit after dinner. 

For the Dos, raw and unseasoned is the way to go.

Now for the Don’ts: Believe it or not, turkey’s actually iffy for pets! While the meat of the turkey in small portions is okay, the skin isn’t. Turkey skin contains large amounts of fat and is often where most of the seasoning stays. Sometimes, meat seasonings contain things pets can’t have, like herbs and onion or garlic powder. The bones also present a problem—cooked bones can splinter, which could cause severe internal damage for a pet. Turkey stuffing is also off-limits, as it could contain hazards like onions or garlic in the mix or additives like grapes or raisins.

FiDos and FiDon'ts of Thanksgiving for Pets

Another common canine confusion is bacon. Yes, dogs and people love bacon, but it’s just not a good idea to give it to Fido, even though the flavor’s there. The fat and grease could cause your pet to have an upset stomach, especially in large quantities. 

Catherine Gupton, interim director at the Martinsville-Henry County SPCA in Martinsville, also cautioned against items with a certain artificial ingredient. Be sure to read those labels!

“You want to be really careful, especially nowadays with the artificial sweeteners, that you don’t have anything that includes xylitol,” Gupton said.

The Food and Drug Administration warns against the sugar substitute—also referenced as “birch sugar”—found in some human foods and toothpastes. Xylitol is also found in breath mints, baked goods, cough syrup, chewable vitamins, mouthwash, some peanut and nut butters, over-the-counter medicines, dietary supplements and sugar-free desserts. 

If your pet eats something they shouldn’t—either at the dinner table or if you forgot to take out the trash as soon as the meal ended—watch for lethargy, vomiting, and loose bowels. If symptoms persist, a visit to the vet or a call to the 24/7 ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 might be in order. 

  • Amie Knowles

    Amie is Dogwood's community editor. She has been in journalism for several years, winning multiple awards from the Virginia Press Association for news and features content. A lifelong Virginia resident, her work has appeared in the Martinsville Bulletin, Danville Register & Bee and NWNC Magazine.

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