What Can Dogs Eat on Thanksgiving? (Safe Holiday Foods for Dogs)

What Can Dogs Eat on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time when whole families come together, and that should also include your dog. But whilst you’re eagerly tucking into turkey and all that other lovely food, spare a thought for your dog. The smells must be driving him crazy!

You will end up giving in, but if you do, what can dogs eat on Thanksgiving that’s safe and whilst not overly healthy, won’t do them any harm?

Dogs can eat a range of foods on Thanksgiving that are safe for them to eat. These include plain turkey, plain pumpkin, plain potatoes, specific veggies and fruits, and plain frozen yogurt. While these foods are safe, it’s best if your dog eats in small amounts and don’t add any seasoning.

But, before you go on and give your dog this food on Thanksgiving, just stop for a moment. The best food you can give a dog or puppy, is food that won’t upset their stomach. The foods above might disagree with them, so think to yourself whether it’s worth the risk.

But if you must give your dog or puppy Thanksgiving food to eat, please read on for a list of Thanksgiving meals that your dog should enjoy without any repercussions.

Important: always check with your vet before giving your dog any food not meant for him. All dogs are different and can react differently to different holiday foods.

I will also explain what holiday foods your dog should NOT eat on Thanksgiving so you know what to avoid feeding them during this joyous period.

What are the do’s and don’ts for dogs on Thanksgiving

Most of us are already planning the perfect thanksgiving menu for this anticipated, food-filled holiday. For many dog parents, thanksgiving presents an opportunity to break the food rules a bit.

No judgment here, by the way. We all like to include our dogs in the Thanksgiving fun.

In the spirit of meal sharing, you’d want your dog to enjoy other delicacies away from their usual dog food. That’s understandable. But you need to know that not every dish on your table during Thanksgiving counts as safe for your dog.

And while you offer them the safe holiday foods I’m about to discuss, moderation is everything. The quickest way to ruin your dog’s Thanksgiving mood is overfeeding them.

You certainly don’t want to deal with avoidable health issues on Thanksgiving day.

So, ensure you don’t lose sight of how much food your dog is having even as they join in merry making.

What can dogs eat on Thanksgiving

With that in mind, let’s now talk about the good stuff! Here’s a list of six food items that can make your dog’s Thanksgiving food enjoyable:

1. Plain, well-cooked turkey breast

We can’t mention Thanksgiving without mentioning turkey. It’s a must-prepare meal for many homes, and dogs love it.

While serving your furry-friend turkey during Thanksgiving, it must be PLAIN – as should meats like chicken skin.

I’m emphasizing plain because we often go all out when preparing Thanksgiving turkey using butter, marinades, salt, and the likes to make it flavorful. And the turkey absorbs most of it.

While these ingredients will make your turkey finger-licking for you and your guests, they will only leave your dog with terrible tummy discomfort.

They might even experience other severe symptoms depending on the spices you’ve used.

If you want your dog to safely enjoy turkey to eat on thanksgiving, cut a small piece of the meat and cook it separately. The good thing is dogs don’t care about seasonings. They’ll still find plain turkey breast delicious.

It should be well cooked, though. Raw turkey meat has salmonella bacteria that will harm your dog’s health.

And speaking of turkey, avoid giving your dog the following no matter how much they beg:

The problem with turkey skin and gravy is that they’re loaded with lots of fats and seasonings that can cause tummy aches, vomiting, diarrhea, and other life-threatening symptoms.

Turkey stuffing is often filled with items like onions, leeks, herbs, chives, and garlic that are toxic and even cause death in dogs.

Cooked turkey bones are quite soft. When chewed, they easily break into small, sharp pieces, which can make cuts on your dog’s mouth and throat.

These bone pieces can also puncture your dog’s intestinal lining and cause obstruction issues that will need surgery.

With all these health risks involved, it’s important if you properly dispose of any turkey leftovers and brief your guests on what not to offer your dog.

2. Cooked, unsalted pumpkin pieces

Almost all dogs find plain pumpkins irresistibly tasty. The best thing about pumpkin is that it’s full of fiber, so your canine friend won’t experience any digestive issues when they have it for Thanksgiving… but be warned: it might make your dog poop more.

And if you decide to go for canned pumpkin, make sure it’s plain pumpkin puree.

Pumpkin pie is a complete no-no for dogs. The excess sugars, high-fat content, and additional ingredients like nutmeg make this popular Thanksgiving dessert a serious health risk for dogs.

3. Plain cooked potatoes (and sweet potatoes)

You can also prepare your dog well-cooked potatoes with no butter, salt, cream, or other spices. You can serve this dog-friendly thanksgiving food as boiled, baked, or mashed — so long as it’s strictly plain.

Your four-legged pal will chow down the plain potatoes on Thanksgiving without questioning the bland taste.

Plus, when offering a small amount of boiled or baked potatoes, ensure you slice them into small pieces to prevent choking issues.

Handy Hint: Things like Tater Tots should be avoided due to the fried elements which won’t be good for your dog’s belly on Thanksgiving.

4. Plain white bread

If you love baking fresh bread for sopping up the turkey gravy on Thanksgiving, you can offer your dog a small piece of the bread, provided they don’t have any wheat allergies.

Most importantly, the bread should be plain and not have raisins, sugar, chocolate chips, seeds, or nuts.

And as you prepare the bread dough, keep an eye on your four-legged to ensure they don’t sneak a bite of the raw dough.

If this happens, you’ll need to cut your Thanksgiving celebrations short for an emergency vet visit. Your dog will suffer bread dough toxicosis.

And yes, it’s as deadly as it sounds.

5. Fruits, veggies, or fruit-veggie salad

With plenty of “unhealthy” dishes on our tables during Thanksgiving, many of us plan to balance out these heavy, fatty meals with something lighter like a Thanksgiving salad.

Fortunately, dogs are also lovers of certain veggies. So, you can either give them plain dog-safe veggies or make them salad to eat on Thanksgiving.

Dogs can eat some of the fresh veggies, like carrots and green beans, raw. But if you want, you can lightly steam them to maintain the crunchiness.

Some of the dog-safe fruits and veggies that dogs love include:

  • Cucumbers
  • Carrots
  • Apples
  • Broccoli
  • Green beans
  • Sweetcorn
  • Strawberries
  • Cranberries
  • Blueberries
  • Watermelon
  • Mangoes

You can use a small amount of some of these fruits and veggies to make your dog a yummy salad on Thanksgiving. You can also throw in diced plain sweet potatoes to boost the salad’s flavor.

But there are two things you need to keep in mind:

  • Do not use salad dressing or any seasoning while preparing your dog’s thanksgiving salad.
  • When adding bite-sized fruit pieces like pear, watermelon, or apples to the salad, get rid of the seed first.

6. Frozen plain yogurt

Yogurt is a delicious and nutritious once-in-a-while treat for dogs. We often add it to dried dog food to make it taste better for them.

Since most of the desserts we make for thanksgiving are often loaded with ingredients that are downright toxic to dogs, frozen plain yogurt is a great dessert option for your furry friend.

Reason being plain yogurt is non-toxic to dogs.

Remember, only use plain yogurt for this dessert. Not sweetened. And not flavored.

Also, go easy on the quantity, lest your dog experiences major tooth sensitivity because of licking too much frozen yogurt.

What can dogs CANNOT eat on Thanksgiving

There are certain foods found in most thanksgiving platters that are dangerous for dogs.

Besides those already mentioned earlier on, here’s a quick list of  other common thanksgiving foods and drinks that you shouldn’t let your dog have:

  • Any food with raisins. For instance, fruit cakes and mince pies.
  • Any food that has grapes and dried fruits like sultanas. For example, pudding.
  • Cranberry sauce with add-ins like extra sugar, nutmeg, or raisins
  • Any food with nuts like black walnuts and macadamia
  • Chocolate and any sweet treats
  • Any salty foods
  • Alcohol

FAQs on what dogs can eat on Thanksgiving

What can puppies eat on Thanksgiving?

You should be more careful with what puppies eat on Thanksgiving as their digestive systems are not as robust.

Puppies can eat plain turkey meat, plain potatoes (and sweet potatoes), plain bread, dog-safe fruits and veggies, and plain frozen yogurt as dessert on Thanksgiving. But they should only eat small quantities of these holiday foods for your dog to eat.

Can dogs have mashed potatoes?

Yes, dogs can eat mashed potatoes. But it should be plain so without any seasonings, salt, butter, gravy, or ingredients like garlic.

Can dogs have turkey?

Yes, that is correct. Dogs can have turkey. However, it shouldn’t have extras like butter, salt, or spices. Plain turkey meat is the safest choice.


Thanksgiving is one of the most-awaited holidays. As you look forward to making different yummy dishes, you probably can’t help but wonder what foods your beloved dog can eat as they celebrate with you.

Luckily, there’s quite a lot a dog can eat on Thanksgiving, so let them join in the fun!

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Header image via https://unsplash.com/photos/_p-DIj5LJKc

Marc Aaron

I write about the things we've learned about owning dogs, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips we've picked up along the way.

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