Give Thanks for Pets

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If you are hosting Thanksgiving this year, your focus is probably on the bird—not the dog. But to ensure a happy and stress-free day for both you and your pet, plan ahead for safety on Thanksgiving Day.

What to serve, and to whom?

dog smelling a turkey as it is pulled from the oven

While some think that sharing the Thanksgiving food bounty with your dog is fine, particularly if your dog is young and healthy, most experts would recommend reserving the feast for human guests. If you do opt to offer people food to your dog, plain turkey (100% bone-free), mashed or sweet potatoes, raw carrots, and apples are probably the safest foods to share. Absolutely avoid turkey skin, seasoned food, mushrooms, onions, and garlic, alcohol, chocolate, and spices.

Any new food should be offered in moderation, of course. Overeating on Thanksgiving is not good for anyone! The wisest course on a hectic day might be to stick to your dog's regular meal plan, treats, and favorite chews. The day is exciting enough without a food adventure or digestive illness!


Unless all of your holiday guests spend time with your dog regularly, consider exercising and feeding your dog ahead of their arrival. Your dog will be prepared for a long nap in a quiet and separate space, and you will be free to socialize and serve the traditional meal.Whether your dog makes only a brief appearance or is part of the day-long crowd, remind guests of the following guidelines:

  • Only those who feed the dog daily should feed the dog on Thanksgiving. No treats slipped to your pet from an indulgent adult; no nasty vegetables shared by enterprising youngsters.
  • Children and pets should maintain their distance. Both species are likely to be overly excited on Thanksgiving Day!
  • Doors should be monitored and kept closed to guard against dogs that tend to wander or escape, or dogs that may be particularly skittish on the holiday.

Recreational traditions

Your family may look forward to a football-filled afternoon, either actively in the yard to burn off calories or comfortably in front of the TV to watch favorite teams. Recently, football fans compete for the TV with dog show fans. The 11th National Dog Show will air on NBC at noon on Thanksgiving Day, following the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Does your family have a favorite breed, or is there good-natured disagreement?

We are thankful for you!

We hope that you have many reasons to be thankful this year. Having a dog is certainly one good reason! All of us at Karen Pryor Clicker Training wish you, your families, and your pets a happy Thanksgiving Day! Enjoy food, family, and time to appreciate the joys in your life.