Thanksgiving Delights for Dogs: Do’s and Don’ts for a Tail-Wagging Feast!

Johnna Devereaux C.P.N.

Bone appétit, everyone! It's that special time of year again when families and friends come together to create and savor delicious food and, perhaps, plan a post-feast walk to burn off those extra calories.

When it comes to Thanksgiving, we all have plenty to be thankful for, including our amazing canine companion dutifully by our side. Whether it’s during prep time, or meal time, you may be tempted to share the gratitude with your pup by sharing your food. But before you do—let’s discuss which foods would be best suited to support your dog’s overall health—then treat away!

Sharing Food With Dog

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty and ruin the fun by telling you what not to feed first…but read to the end as there will be plenty of options you CAN give!

Say NO to:

Sharing your potatoes! While white potatoes may seem like a tempting treat for your dog, they are extremely starchy and score extremely high on the glycemic index (which means they can cause blood sugar spikes–nothing our facultative carnivores need!) White potatoes also contain solanine, a chemical that may increase inflammation in the body, which might worsen your pup’s sore, achy joints.

Cooked bones! Never feed your dog cooked bones of any sort! Cooked bones lose their moisture and other valuable nutrients during the cooking process, making them brittle and prone to splintering. Even though a cooked bone may “look” fine, once chewed sharp shards may result which can lead to internal perforation.

Stuffing! Despite how delicious it is for us; stuffing isn't suitable for our furry friends. Besides being laden with carbohydrates, which dogs have no nutritional need for, stuffing often includes onions. Onions are toxic to dogs and can lead to hemolytic anemia, a condition in which red blood cells are destroyed by the body.

Turkey drippings & skin! While dogs may adore the taste of turkey drippings and skin, these are high in fat and may contain spices that can lead to digestive upset and uncomfortable trips outside.

Sweets/Desserts! As mentioned above, dogs have no nutritional need for carbohydrates and that includes sugar! Sugar consumption has been linked to numerous diseases including acting as a fuel source for cancer. If your dessert contains chocolate, it's a double whammy for your canine companion as the chemical compound theobromine, is also toxic to the canine body. Skip the human, sugary desserts and opt for giving your pup a frozen treat instead (or see below for another more fall-forward option).

Dog Sniffing Pie

Now that we know what not to give them and the why behind it, what can you give your dog this Thanksgiving? 

GO ahead and give them:

A long-term chew! Keeping your dog entertained during mealtime is crucial. Consider giving them a safe option like a bully stick, collagen stick, cheese chew, or marrow bone. Be sure to practice safe snacking by using your pup’s favorite safety device, the Bow Wow Buddy.

A little bit of turkey! Your dogs can enjoy Thanksgiving with you, but ensure they receive muscle or breast meat without bones or excess fat. Remember, no paws on the table!

Cranberries! Fresh cranberries, not the sauce, are a healthy option. They're packed with vitamin C and antioxidants. Just make sure to purée them before adding them to your dog's food for better nutrient absorption. And don’t give too much–cranberries are a wonderful source of beneficial nutrients but they are tart and too much may cause your dog to avoid them entirely. Ideally, give 1/8tsp per every 25 pounds up to three times per week. (Caution: if you have a dog prone to calcium oxalate stones, avoid cranberries as they may decrease their urinary pH.)

Green beans! Fresh, organic green beans make a great low-calorie, filling treat for your pup. Feed them before adding butter and spices. We always recommend organic to reduce exposure to environmental toxins like glysophate. If you are unable to purchase organic, wash your veggies using one teaspoon of baking soda to two cups of water. A recent study evidenced that this removes pesticide residue from foods quite effectively. (1)

Pumpkin! Opt for organic, canned 100% pumpkin (not pie filling). You can use it to fill your dog's favorite puzzle toy– just mix pumpkin with a few treats and lactose-free yogurt then freeze  for a delightful treat that will keep them occupied.

Sweet Potatoes! Though they do contain starch, sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic load than their white potato cousin. This is because sweet potatoes are actually not potatoes as we know them, in fact they belong to the morning glory family! (Now there’s some Thanksgiving trivia!) You can include them in your dog's Thanksgiving meal for a healthy treat–but limit the quantity as they are still carbohydrates.

Keep this list in mind as you approach the Thanksgiving holiday. Enjoy your meal, express gratitude for your friends, family, and furry companions, and, of course, plan that post-feast walk!


The points of view expressed above are those of our clinical pet nutritionist and supported by science, her education and experience. However, we recognize there may be different points of view or opinions on some aspect or even the premise of this article. Our goal at Bow Wow Labs is to provide the best, clearest, and most helpful information possible to help keep your dog happy, healthy and safe.

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical or veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon or perceived as specific medical or veterinary advice.


Wu, Y., An, Q., Li, D., Wu, J., & Pan, C. (2019). Comparison of Different Home/Commercial Washing Strategies for Ten Typical Pesticide Residue Removal Effects in Kumquat, Spinach and Cucumber. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(3), 472.

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