This Is Why You Should Never Let Your Pets Lick the Thanksgiving Plates

It might be tempting to let your furbabies join in on the feast, but letting them lick your plate could have tragic results.


Rottweiler puppy looking to camera with head tiltedShutterstock / freeway

When I was growing up, my family was always the type to include our pets in holiday festivities. On Christmas, Santa left treats in mini stockings for the cats. For Halloween, we put a costume on the dog. And after Thanksgiving, we set our plates on the floor and let them feast on the scraps. At the time, we thought we were being sweet, but looking back, I realize we got lucky.

If your family is anything like mine, you’ll be shocked to find out that giving the dog a turkey bone or letting the cat lap up the cranberry sauce is potentially life-threatening for our furry friends. A lot of human foods are dangerous to cats and dogs—just look at this list! Here are the Thanksgiving dishes to look out for.

1) Pie

Pecan pie, apple pie, pumpkin pie…even though these traditional treats might be your favorite part of the meal, they won’t be your pet’s. Sugar is really difficult for dogs and cats to digest, so even though it’s harmless to let them lick up just a bit of food if it falls on the floor, it’s best to stick to specially made pet treats for dessert.

2) Gravy

Made with turkey stock and other fattening ingredients, gravy could be too thick for your pet to digest. Fatty foods can cause GI upset and pancreatitis in animals, so it’s best to save that mouthwatering gravy for the humans at your gathering.

3) Sweet Potato Casserole

This delicious casserole is loaded with marshmallows and brown sugar…a scrumptious combination for humans, but not for pets! Remember, animals can’t digest sugar the way we can, so leave this on the dinner table, not in the doggy dish!

4) Turkey Skin

Even though plain turkey meat is safe for animals to eat, the richly seasoned skin definitely is not. Just like with gravy, the fat content can pose a risk, causing your poor pet to spend Thanksgiving night being sick. No one wants to deal with that when there are football games to watch and Black Friday deals to scout out!

5) Turkey Bones

Wait—dogs love bones! Not these. Poultry bones can splinter, causing your pet to accidentally ingest them and do serious damage. Just to be safe, keep dogs away. They’re convincing little creatures (those big puppy dog eyes!), but it’s just what we have to do to keep them safe.

6) Loaded Mashed Potatoes

Your typical butter-and-salt potatoes are totally fine, but when you start adding mix-ins, things get toxic. Pets absolutely cannot eat plants in the onion family (which extends to garlic, scallions, chives and leeks) because they can cause life-threatening illnesses. If you add any of these ingredients to your potatoes, don’t let your dog or cat sample even a bite! It could mean an emergency trip to the vet.

7) Stuffing

Just like those mashed potatoes, stuffing usually has onions in it. Unless you’re 100 percent sure your stuffing is pet-proof, don’t risk it!

8) Canned Cranberry Sauce

Like pies, canned cranberry sauce is loaded with sugar. If that isn’t bad enough, a lot of processed varieties use grapes or raisins as a flavoring agent, which can cause kidney failure in dogs (and possibly in cats). Even if you make the sauce yourself, it’s probably still best not to let the animals have a taste because of all that sugar.

9) Anything with Nuts

Walnuts and macadamia nuts are the most fatal varieties for dogs and cats, so the dish of seasoned nuts that you leave in the living room? Make sure it’s out of snout’s reach. And this sausage-bread-pecan dressing? No sharing!

10) Green Bean Casserole

The onions in everyone’s favorite green bean casserole can wreak havoc on your pet’s digestive system, but don’t write off every ingredient. Green beans are a wonderful snack for animals, so set aside some unseasoned beans to give your furbaby a healthy Thanksgiving treat!

One final note: Be sure that any leftovers or food scraps are out of reach, too. Veterinarians report that pets are known to pull turkey carcasses out of open trash cans or snitch extra pie from low counters.

Upset that your pet might feel left out? Don’t worry—you can always whip up a little recipe just for the animals. Here are a few human foods they can snack on risk-free!

Thanks to this intel, you’ll think twice before letting your pets join in on the Thanksgiving feast—and ask guests to do the same. It will mean a happier and healthier holiday for everyone.

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