Should You Share Holiday Leftovers with Your Dog?

dog peering at food on table

Thanksgiving is a time to say thanks to those we love, including our canine companions. While it can be tempting to show your pet how much you appreciate them by sharing some tasty food from the family feast, it's best to offer your pup an extra doggie treat instead. 

A few morsels of "people food" may seem harmless, but the fact is that some foods can be bad for a dog's health — especially the rich and fatty holiday dishes humans enjoy this time of year. Thankfully, there are a few simple ways dog owners can help keep their pets healthy this holiday season.

Tips for a Safe, Healthy and Dog-friendly Thanksgiving 

The foods we eat during the holidays tend to be particularly rich and fatty, and that can cause health problems in dogs — both now and down the road. Here are some tips for keeping your pup healthy this Thanksgiving:

  • Never give your dog poultry bones; they splinter easily and can get stuck in the esophagus, where they're hard to reach.
  • Keep your pup away from chocolate. Bowls of candy — or even small pieces dropped by guests or children — may pose a real risk to pets. Though delicious for humans, even an ounce of chocolate can be fatal for dogs. A rule of thumb is the darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is — though all chocolate can be toxic and should be avoided. 
  • Keep an eye on your dog when they're in the kitchen where food is often dropped. If they're not trained to stay out of the garbage, use a can with a lid or keep the trashcan out of your pet's reach, such as in a pantry or kitchen cupboard. Dogs are capable of amazing feats when food is involved.
  • Make sure your pet can't gobble up food left on counters or tables. Keep kitchen surfaces tidy and clear of food and crumbs. After you've cleaned the kitchen, take the garbage out and dispose of it in a secure place where no pets can get into it.

Thanksgiving meals may have all your favorites, but keep in mind what can happen to your dog if they chow down on mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. Vomiting and diarrhea are common in dogs given food that's not a part of their regular diet, especially foods high in fat. Remember: The potential risks of feeding them Thanksgiving leftovers far outweigh their momentary delight. A little restraint and a yummy chew toy or treat will keep your dog safe this Thanksgiving — and for many holidays to come.

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