Give thanks for (and to!) your pet with our top 3 Thanksgiving treats!

This Thanksgiving, as you gather round the table with loved ones, friends, and family, we know you won’t forget to give thanks for your furry family members! After all, who loves you unconditionally, doesn’t ever talk back, is always happy to see you, and can be counted on to cheer you up no matter how dark your mood? Even though your perfect Thanksgiving may consist of gorging yourself to the gills before collapsing in front of the TV, don’t make the mistake of indulging your dog or cat in the same way. Remember, your pet might know something special is going on, with the increase in company and holiday hubbub in your house, but he doesn’t need excess food, especially not the rich holiday treats or sweets that are toxic to his sensitive stomach, irrespective of season. However, there are some great pet-safe Thanksgiving treats that are guaranteed to make your furry family member feel extra-thankful for such a loving pet parent. Here are our three favorites (with corresponding DON’Ts):

1) A taste of the Thanksgiving table: If you feel too guilty indulging in your Thanksgiving feast without sharing at least a little of it with your pet, go ahead… a taste of “people food” today as a special treat won’t hurt him (as long as you keep it at “just a taste”). A few small skinless, boneless pieces of cooked turkey, a bite of mashed potatoes or even a tiny sliver of pumpkin pie would all be welcome to your pet. However, don’t allow your pets to overindulge, as they could wind up with a case of upset tummy, diarrhea or even worse—an inflammatory condition of the pancreas known as pancreatitis. Cooked nutrient-rich vegetables like pumpkins, sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans, and peas are wonderful “treats” for cats and dogs – the same wonderful vitamins that make these so good for humans are equally nutritious for animals (in the right quantity). We take no responsibility, however, if your “one time indulgence” for Fido creates a little begging monster from here on out!

BUT DON’T: Give him sage (the essential oils in sage and other herbs can cause digestive upset, especially to cats), raw bread dough (why you’d feed raw bread dough to anyone I don’t know, but the ASPCA warns that it can rise in a pet’s stomach, causing severe GI distress and even life-threatening bloating), chocolate (always toxic to dogs and cats), or too much of anything (duh).

2) Bones/Chews and Special Treats: You can find special Thanksgiving-themed/turkey-flavored bones or chews that will let you feel as though you and your pooch are sharing the same Thanksgiving flavors together without the risk of splinter-prone turkey bones. Pay a special trip to your local pet store or doggy bakery and grab a turkey-flavored bone for Fido! In addition, you can find many dog treats around the holidays that are made with natural, organic ingredients such as pumpkin, sweet potato, and apple with ginger or cinnamon for a special Thanksgiving or Christmas twist.

BUT DON’T: Give him poultry bones of any variety. Cooked turkey, duck, geese and other bird bones are dangerous to your pet. They are hollow, and can break and splinter easily. Because they are so easily breakable, they aren’t usually chewed thoroughly, which results in sharp pieces that can cause choking, or even block or tear the intestines.  A pet that has a bone or fragment of one lodged in his intestine may not even show symptoms for a few days, and when they do, in the form of listlessness, loss of appetite, vomiting or diarrhea, surgery may be required.

3) Turkey treats: Some nibbles of skinless, boneless turkey is a great treat for most cats and dogs. Cut up a few pieces and add it to your dog’s regular food to give it its own Thanksgiving meal. For cats, try pureeing some turkey with sweet potatoes or pumpkin and adding it to their regular food or giving it to them on its own as a special tasty treat. And if you don’t like turkey giblets, your pet will feel differently: try boiling them up for a yummy pet treat that you can dole out over several days. You can also try stuffing a few added tidbits of turkey, vegetables (try sweet potato or green beans) and dribbles of gravy—inside a Kong toy to keep them happily entertained (without the danger of overindulgence) while you entertain your guests. By the time your furry friend has gotten all of the treats out of the toy, you’ll be in the midst of post-dinner cleanup and ready to spend the rest of the afternoon curled up with your pet in a turkey-induced coma.

DON’T: Give turkey skin or bones, or any meat that’s been sitting out longer than two hours to avoid risk of salmonella poisoning. Also make sure you don’t feed any foods containing garlic, onions, sage, raisins, or chocolate… all are toxic to animals.

The best Thanksgiving treat of all: Spend some quality time together, with loved ones of both human and canine or feline variety!