What Can I Feed My Dog On Thanksgiving?

Pass the mashed potatoes please 🤤 🍽️

dog drooling with thanksgiving food

Thanksgiving is a holiday that’s centered around one of the best things ever: FOOD!

And while you’re already planning out your favorite Thanksgiving dishes for this year’s menu, you might be wondering if your dog’s allowed to get in on the action.

To get some answers to this yummy question, we spoke to some experts to find out which foods are safe to share with your dog.

“While Thanksgiving seems like a wonderful time to share with our beloved pets, there are some important things to keep in mind,” Dr. Lindsey E. Bullen, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist at BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital in Cary, North Carolina, told The Dodo.

Here’s what you need to know.

Can dogs eat Thanksgiving dinner?

A lot of the foods served on Thanksgiving can actually be poisonous to dogs.

“For example, many pre-prepared Thanksgiving dishes will include garlic and onion, which is not recommended and can be harmful for companion pets,” Dr. Bullen said.

And many human foods that are nontoxic are still too fatty or salty for dogs, which not only makes them unhealthy but can lead to an upset stomach as well (or in severe cases, it can even lead to salt poisoning).

Some dogs can even have food allergies or be lactose intolerant, just like people. “Pets with food allergies or dietary hypersensitivities should always stay on their prescribed food and not get anything else,” Dr. Bullen said.

Also, Dr. Bullen recommends that dogs with any chronic diseases, such as diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease or pancreatitis, should not eat any human foods without first discussing it with your veterinarian.

What Thanksgiving food can dogs eat safely?

With that said, there are some foods that you can safely share with your dog, including some seasonal produce and even turkey — as long as it’s served plain.

“Tolerance to human foods depends purely on the individual pet; however, the following could be considered OK during Thanksgiving,” Dr. Bullen said.


Dogs can eat plain, cooked turkey.

Pets shouldn’t have raw meat because they can contract illnesses from the bacteria on raw foods just like people can. According to Dr. Bullen, sneaking your dog raw food can increase his risk of contracting a foodborne illness, such as E. coli, salmonella or listeria.

You also shouldn’t give your pup turkey with tons of seasonings, such as garlic and onion, which are toxic to dogs. Even other seasonings that are nontoxic can give your dog an upset stomach. If you feed your dog turkey, make sure you aren’t giving away drumsticks, too.
Avoid feeding your pet bones or meats with bones attached, as it could result in fractured teeth and/or gastrointestinal tract obstruction (both of which can result in a serious pet emergency),” Dr. Bullen said.

Plain mashed sweet potato

Dogs can eat mashed sweet potatoes. You shouldn’t feed him raw, whole sweet potatoes, however, because the skin is difficult for him to digest, and the potato can cause an intestinal blockage.

You should make sure the mashed sweet potatoes don’t have any sugar, butter or seasonings that are toxic to dogs, such as nutmeg.

Plain mashed potato

Mashed potatoes are safe for dogs and cats to eat as long as they don’t have tons of salt, butter or other seasonings.


Plain cranberry sauce is OK for dogs to eat in small amounts and as a very occasional treat, but many cranberry sauces are high in sugar, which can upset your dog’s stomach.

Some cranberry sauces can also have other ingredients added, such as other fruits, nuts or xylitol, so you should check that the cranberry sauce you have doesn’t contain anything that’s harmful to your pup.

Dogs can eat plain raw or dried cranberries in moderation, too.

“Dogs can eat cranberries without concerns for toxicity,” Dr. Zach Marteney, a medical director at Meadowlands Veterinary Hospital in New Jersey, told The Dodo. “As with all treats, moderation is key. Too many cranberries can upset their stomach (and prevent them from wanting to eat their regular food).”

The risk with raw cranberries is that they can be a choking hazard if they’re too big for your dog to swallow or if he eats too many at once. You can avoid this by giving him cooked cranberries or only giving him a few at a time.

And since dried cranberries can have tons of sugar or can be sold as a mixture with raisins, which are toxic to dogs, remember to check the ingredients.


In general, it’s totally safe for dogs to eat pumpkin in moderate amounts. It can even be healthy for them.

“Pumpkin is good for dogs,” Dr. Travis Davison, a veterinarian at Bluffton Veterinary Hospital in South Carolina, told The Dodo. “From the veterinary perspective, we sometimes have people add it into pet diets as a fiber supplement. It can be part of a bland diet for dogs with a sensitive GI tract or used to help healthier stools.”

Plain, canned pumpkin puree is the best way to feed your pup pumpkin.

“I usually suggest getting canned pumpkin and adding it to their regular food,” Dr. Davison said.

Just make sure the canned pumpkin you’re feeding your dog has no additives, like salt, sugar or other spices.

And while you might want to share some of your pumpkin spice latte, pumpkin spice is actually toxic to dogs (as is caffeine), so avoid giving anything spiced or caffeinated to your dog.

Keep tabs on your dog’s calorie intake

A lot of human foods have too many calories for your dog.

“Another thing to consider are the calories associated with human foods,” Dr. Bullen said. “Human foods have variable quantities of calories associated with them. Small volumes can be deceptive as mass does not always equate to calorie content.”

Whether it’s Thanksgiving or not, Dr. Bullen says that pets generally should not receive more than 10 percent of their daily calorie intake from treats.

When in doubt, discuss potential "treats" with a veterinary professional. This helps ensure no harm will come to your beloved pup during the holiday season.