Give Thanks to Your Pet

I’m seeing all types of warnings on the Internet – warning pet owners against sharing any of your Thanksgiving dinner with your pet.  I’m here to say the opposite.  Of course you should share some of your beautiful Thanksgiving meal with your cat or dog!  Why wouldn’t you share some real food with your pet(s)?

I’ve probably read four or five articles recently, warning pet owners against sharing Thanksgiving people food with their pet.  This is such antiquated thinking…actually it is manipulated thinking.  Manipulated by Big Pet Food.  They want us to believe our pets should only consume commercial pet food.  They are wrong.

There is no logic (or science) to preventing a cat or dog from consuming real food.  Why should your cat or dog be denied a couple bites of Thanksgiving turkey?  Why can’t your dog share some of the green beans or broccoli or sweet potato?  There is no reason (for a healthy pet).

Yes – there is a small amount of common sense involved here.  Don’t give cats or dogs any of the following foods…

Onions, Garlic raw*, Grapes, Raisins, Macadamia Nuts, Candy or Gum, Chocolate, Cooked bones, Fruit seeds and pits, Salty/Sugary foods, Yeast dough, Fat trimmings, alcohol or caffeinated beverages.

Safe in small amount foods are…
Avocado (small amounts of the flesh only – do not allow a cat or dog access to the pit!), Garlic (in small amounts ONLY as seasoning. Not recommended for cats or Japanese dog breeds, such as Akitas and Shiba Inus), Salt & Pepper (seasoning only).

And…don’t fix a full plate of turkey, dressing, sweet potato casserole, and so on for your dog or cat – especially when their normal diet is 100% commercial pet food.  Don’t give your cat or dog a portion of turkey dripping with fat or an entire turkey leg.

But there is absolutely nothing wrong with adding a few bites of your wonderful Thanksgiving meal to their bowl.

For cats –
A safe amount of turkey meat to add is 1 tablespoon.

For dogs –
Under 10 pounds – 1 teaspoon turkey meat, 2 teaspoons vegetables*.
10 to 40 pounds – 1 tablespoon turkey meat, 2 tablespoons vegetables*.
41+ pounds – 2 tablespoons turkey meat, 4 tablespoons vegetables*.

*With vegetables – pull a portion aside before you add to your casserole or season, lightly cook.  Example, pull a tablespoon or two portion of sweet potato aside – bake until soft, cool and serve.

To learn more about providing your pet real food (becoming a Pet Foodie), Click Here.

Wishing all of you and your beautiful pets a fabulous Thanksgiving Holiday!



Susan Thixton
Association for Truth in Pet Food
Pet Food Safety Advocate
Author Buyer Beware, Co-Author Dinner PAWsible

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November 25, 2013

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15 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Give Thanks to Your Pet”

  1. Jay Smith says:

    Bravo again, Susan.

    I think so many eager bloggers turn to the same, old, old, old, old, articles that have been sadly perpetuated over years and years as “advice” about what dogs should and shouldn’t share during holidays.

    There are wildly exaggerated admonishments about sharing “Turkey” because it’s “high” fat content that can “trigger” pancreatitis. For a a somewhat less sensational and greatly more realistic idea about the truth, visit the USDA nutrient database, linked below, to discover that Roasted Whole Turkey with Skin on contains a whopping 7.39% fat, as fed.

    One can only think that these “guidelines” were compiled without the caveats that would help them make any sense at all to real people. For instance, if you were to strip all of the skin from the turkey, and feed it to your dog, along with the layer of fat that may be included with it, you’d probably be exceeding a recommended fat intake. But, that sort of situation is pretty easy for all of us to understand, and sheds a lot of light on the real caution that should be issued.

    But, it seems easier just to allow the advice to remain sensational, and to scare people to death about what’s OK and what’s not.

    Common sense works. Avoid the no-no foods: alcohols, dark chocolates, grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, onions, garlic, excess seasonings (salt or pepper), and fat trimmings served alone (as though a dog is actually a waste food disposal.)

  2. Jeri says:

    Yes, sadly we are still in the dark ages in thinking about what “should” and “should not” be shared with our pets. In the good old days, dogs and cats were fed leftovers as a rule and hunted for the rest of what they ate — and lived longer without chronic ailments. Now, of course, if a dog even glances at a Thanksgiving meal he/she is likely to keel over dead, don’t you know. This rates right up there with the old outdated concept of “Don’t feed your pet ‘people food’. Feed them ‘dog or cat food’.” Free marketing for the pet food industry. There’s NO SUCH THING as “people food”. There’s just FOOD — and it’s either healthy and species-appropriate for your pet, or it isn’t.

  3. Pacific Sun says:

    Also remember no artificial sweeteners (especially xylitol and sorbitol)which are sometimes part of processed premixes (such as low-fat pies, desserts and toppings). And no cooked (well obviously!) turkey bones which can splinter.

  4. Kelley, Jersey and Honewell says:

    Thanksgiving is the time to acknowledge many things for which we’re grateful. Topping that list regarding our wonderful pets, is YOU Susan! So for your tireless work all throughout the year, please know that you’ve made an irreplaceable and positive difference in our pets’ lives and in ours as well!
    Most of all THANK YOU for never giving up!

  5. Danya Linehan says:

    I have to say, this isn’t just perpetuated by pet food companies! As a veterinarian who dreads the crazy increase in GI emergencies over the holidays, I completely understand why we still see lots of warnings about holiday feasts for your pets. I have evolved to exactly the place you go here in this well stated article; suggesting to my clients what is ok to feed and in what quantities, vs. just saying NO. What you call “A little common sense” is not as common as we would like 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving to all!

    • Reader says:

      I wonder if we shouldn’t include another warning about Thanksgiving to help avoid another GI emergency! Speaking from experience, I know how easy it is for my pets to steal food from the kitchen and accessible counters. One-on-one, I can control it. But with more company in the house, extra confusion, food dishes, serving plates and snacks all around, I have to exclude my pets from all “eating” areas. They do get special treats however, to make up for temporary expulsion!

  6. Gitta says:

    Thank you Susan. We share a bit of every meal, not just at Thanksgiving.

    Because some people don’t use common sense and actually do cause harm to their dogs the overreaction is to see us all as equally incompetent and ignorant.

    We should admonish people not to decorate their houses because every year quite a few humans get hurt in the process.

    Don’t know how many people get sick after they do dumb stuff when it comes to eating holidays meals – perhaps we should admonish humans to stick to a can of Ensure for a holiday feast.

    We know people will share, no matter what anybody says or writes. If these dire warnings would do any good, there would be hardly any sick pets because of those special treats.

    I wish more veterinarians would follow Dr. Linehan’s example and educate their clients on how to share sensibly and responsibly.

  7. Debra says:

    Thanks for the reminder and thanks also to Dr. Linehan for her wisdom and common sense. I’ve been feeding my cats bits of turkey for years and when we’ve gone to friends for Thanksgiving, I am always sent home with a container of turkey as a peace offering to my cats. My cats seem to know what their limit is and will walk away from turkey when they’ve had their fill.

  8. Robin says:

    Not only do I agree with Susan 100%, I also LOVE this time of year because fresh raw turkeys are available everywhere for great prices and we stock up the freezer and feed it raw for months after the holidays. My dogs love their raw turkeys….:-)

  9. Concerned says:

    Commercial pet food aside, my dog will not be getting turkey on Thanksgiving, nor will I. I won’t feed my dog any products made of any kind of poultry because the extremely cruel, sad, and unhealthy practices involved in raising poultry for meat and eggs. Even meat and eggs so labeled “free-range” just means that they can have access to the outdoors. What this amounts to is a small (relative that there can be hundreds or thousands of birds in each building) dirt or concrete fenced area outside. Best you can hope for is pastured raised, which is generally more humane and healthy, but unless you travel to a farm and buy directly, you are at the mercy if the producers’ honestly or lack thereof. Not to mention the extremely cruel manner in which these birds are slaughtered. I refuse to contribute to that. Check out to read more on grass fed animals of all kinds, why it’s healthier for you and the animals, and go to the tab that can direct you to farms in your state where you can purchase meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs.

  10. Peter says:

    But don’t feed the skin of turkey, it is too high in fat, (not metabolized well), and can lead to pancreatitis.

    • Robin says:

      Peter, help me understand your comment? What makes you think that turkey fat is any different from any other animal fat? Dogs not only need animal fat to function, they were designed to digest animal fat, and much more efficiently than humans. While I would agree that feeding them the cooked skin off the holiday turkey in any amount over, say a tablesppon for a small dog, is not a great idea, because cooked meat ruins the nutrients and heat adds carcinogens, my dogs eat whole raw turkey, the entire thing, skin, fat and all.

  11. Lucy K says:

    I’ve always shared with my guys- in moderation. No fat or dangerous foods, of course, but they do get their “own” plate with a little of everything. After all, I AM thankful for what I have. Especially them…..

  12. Nuvet says:

    Read all the beautiful comments and agree with most of them. We must me thankful to our pets as they help us entertain us in many ways. I always take special care in feeding my dog. I believe in giving him a diet that can fulfill all his needs and help in overall growth. After all he is my best companion.

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