Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. Being the foodie that I am, I love cooking and stuffing myself with excellent food, drinks, and desserts. Our family tends to gravitate towards my house for Thanksgiving, mostly because my husband and I are dog people. We don’t mind if the family brings their canine crew over to dinner. It’s not uncommon to have up to 8 dogs in our house on Thanksgiving, and it can be quite a zoo!
With that many dogs around, I like to send home Thanksgiving “doggie bags” filled with goodies for the pups (and other critters) to enjoy. After all, they are family too, right? Now I understand that our family is “special,” and not every person is going to tolerate their family members bringing their pets over for Thanksgiving. Even if the pets are not with them, why not send home a Thanksgiving treat for them to enjoy? Let’s go over some DIY thanksgiving “doggie bags” to make for your family to take back to the pets for Thanksgiving.
Please NOTE: Some pets have very sensitive stomachs and people food might cause them to have some diarrhea or vomiting. Be careful when giving your pet people food as treats!
Doggie Do- NOT’s
Before we get into what foods are OK to send home for the pets, let’s go over what foods can be harmful if shared with our pets.
- Grapes are unsafe to give to pets as they can cause kidney failure.
- Nuts such as Pecans, Almonds, Walnuts, and Macadamia Nuts can be harmful to pets. Ingestion of these nuts can cause vomiting, diarrhea, drunkenness, hind limb weakness, abdominal pain, and even pancreatitis.
- Onions and garlic (and other members of the onion family such as leeks and chives) can cause your pet’s red blood cells to rupture. Not good!
- Turkey skin and fat can cause digestive upset and even pancreatitis in pets. It’s better to trim the fat and skin off before giving any turkey to your pets. Also, be careful with how the turkey was seasoned (no onions or garlic).
- Stay away from Avocados as they contain a toxin harmful to pets.
- Yeast or Raw dough is harmful to pets if eaten, as the dough can swell in the stomach. The alcohols from the yeast can enter their bloodstream, causing alcohol poisoning.
- Stuffing is not a good idea to give to pets, as most stuffing contains large amounts of butter, sodium, and onions and garlic, all of which are harmful to pets.
- Alcohol may be amusing for us, but pets do not process alcohol the same as humans. They could experience severe respiratory or cardiac distress.
- Stay away from foods containing artificial sweeteners. Xylitol, a common ingredient in artificial sweeteners, can cause low blood sugar, seizures, liver failure, or even death. Yikes! Some brands of Peanut Butter contain Xylitol as well, so read the labels!
- Chocolate in all forms, especially dark chocolate and bakers chocolate, can be very dangerous to cats and dogs. Ingestion of even small amounts of chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhea, tremors and seizures, elevated heart rates, and even collapse and shock.
- Turkey bones are NOT a good idea to give to your dog to chew on. Cooked bones can splinter and perforate the digestive tract. Smaller bones are known to become lodged into the esophagus, causing your dog to choke. Bones are also known to get stuck in the gastrointestinal tract and cause intestinal blockages.
This is not an all-inclusive list; if you are unsure if something is safe to give to your pet, please see the ASPCA Animal Poison Control center website. It contains a searchable list of foods that are harmful to your pet. For the folks that love to have an “app for that” on their phones, ASPCA has an app you can download. There is also another great APP that just came out recently called VetProtect, which also has a searchable list of foods that are safe and unsafe for dogs and cats. Both are great resources!
Let’s Get to the Doggy DO’s!
Now that we have an idea of what NOT to send home for the pets let’s review some great ideas for items to put in your doggy bags. Please understand that every pet is different in how their bodies react to new foods, so please feed these foods in moderation to avoid upset tummies and diarrhea. These items are meant to be given as small treats, not a full meal.
- Turkey, with NO FAT and NO SKIN, is a great essential for your doggy bag! Make sure it doesn’t have any onions or garlic on it, though! Stay away from any gravy as it is high in salt and fat, which could cause digestive upset.
- Vegetables such as potatoes, celery, carrots, broccoli, spinach, and green beans are great treats for your pet! Just make sure they were not seasoned with any of the items from the “DONT” list. Stay away from vegetables that are packed with excess sodium or butter, as these could be harmful to your pet.
- Sweet potatoes are great treats for pets! Just make sure they do not have too many marshmallows or any artificial sweeteners on them.
- Canned pumpkin (NOT PUMPKIN PIE FILLING) is OK to give to pets and is a great ingredient to make cookies for pets or “pup-cakes.”
- Cranberries or Cranberry sauce in small quantities are OK for pets as long as they do not contain artificial sweeteners, grapes, raisins, or currants.
- Apples are a great treat to give to pets, as long as the seeds are removed.
If you would like to make some special treats for the pets on Thanksgiving, here are a few great ideas! (Plus, you can make them ahead of time!)
- Grab a box of milk bones (or their favorite dog biscuit brand) and some carob chips. Carob is an excellent alternative to chocolate! Melt the carob chips and dip the bones into the carob to create “chocolate” covered bones. Stick in the freezer for a few minutes to harden the carob creating a delicate shell around the bones.
- Set some extra sweet potatoes aside from your cooking and cut them up into coin-sized pieces. Roast them in the oven without any seasonings, and your pets could have their own version of sweet potato casserole!
- If you have some plain pumpkin purée (NOT pumpkin pie filling), check out a recipe for pumpkin pup-cakes or pumpkin dog treats. If you don’t want to add another thing to your to-do list on Thanksgiving, make these a few days before! By the way, my cat loved the pumpkin “dog” treats and resents that I call them “dog” treats.
Whatever your plans are for Thanksgiving, I hope you take time to enjoy the company of your loved ones and your pets! Have a great Thanksgiving, from my furry family to yours!