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Did you know that, for the majority of pets, you CAN give turkey on Thanksgiving!?!?

Can Pets Safely Eat Turkey on Thanksgiving?

I know I know I know.  Many vets tell you NO table food.
They say to NEVER give your pet any turkey on Thanksgiving.
Why do they say that? It’s just easy. People tend to want to over-indulge their pet, and if you tell them NO table scraps, it reduces the likelihood of a sick pet on Black Friday. Those owners 20 years ago who fed the entire turkey carcass to their dogs (and the dog might have even died) ruined it for the rest of us. Blanket statements became the norm.

Thing is, now the pendulum has swung the other way, and people want to share a holiday with their pets, but don’t know how. So there’s this feeling of “Am I breaking the rules?” No one feels like they know what’s “allowed,” and a lot of fear is going around unnecessarily. Instead of just forbidding everything, let’s be realistic.

I believe we can all exercise a little common sense. Turkey white meat (skinless) is actually a healthy food! As always, keep everything in moderation. So no, do not make an entire plate of food for your pet!

And keep the turkey skinless.

And only give the white meat.

And, for the love of God, never give your pet any bones!

How much turkey can you give? Limit it to 1-2 nickel-sized piece of skinless, boneless white meat per 10 lbs of dog or cat. That’s not enough to cause upset tummies in normal, healthy animals.

Here’s how to decide if your pet can safely get turkey. If not, I offer other alternatives:

Does your pet have a super sensitive stomach? Are they a frequent vomiter? Do they have diarrhea often?
Remember, sharing turkey is suitable for MOST pets, not all. Some pets it just is not worth risking any tummy trouble! If your pet is in this category, you’re the 1% that should skip it. Alternative – small ice chips (kinda lame, but cannot hurt a thing!)

Is your pet on a prescription diet for any reason? Check with your vet, as it depends on your pet’s condition. Alternative – small ice chips (again, kinda lame, but cannot hurt a thing!)

Is your pet on a prescription diet for food allergies? No turkey for you!
Alternative – small, bite-sized pieces of cooked sweet potato (plain). Or a canned version of their prescription dry food.

Is your pet missing a substantial number of teeth? Chewing turkey might be tough.
Alternative – small spoonful (teaspoon) of mashed potatoes with no gravy.

Is your pet prone to pancreatitis? Is your pet a miniature schnauzer? Anything with even a moderate amount of fat can cause big problems.
Alternative – a dime sized piece of plain white bread with no butter.

Remember, moderation is key to a fun holiday for the whole family! If your pets is not interested in sharing the feast, no need to offer any food and create a monster for next year! If you feel you will all enjoy the holiday more if you can share some with your pet without guilt, then follow my guidelines and have a happy Thanksgiving!

Web-DVM guest blogger Dr. Karen Louis is a practicing small animal veterinarian.  See more of her articles at her blog at

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