Can Dogs and Cats Have Some of the Thanksgiving Turkey?

Posted by Stacey Venzel
Thanksgiving turkey

Dogs and cats routinely have turkey in their kibble or raw food diets, but here’s why they can’t eat the Thanksgiving turkey.

It’s natural to want to include everyone in the Thanksgiving feast – all the way down to our four-legged companions. However, the Thanksgiving turkey with all its fixings should not be fed to dogs and cats.

Turkey is a great protein source for carnivorous pets, but turkey ingredients included in commercial dog food and cat food diets differ significantly from the meat you’re cooking for the family.

dog begging

The herbs and spices in which a typical Thanksgiving turkey is basted are toxic to pets. Onion, for instance, is well-known to be poisonous to dogs and cats. Too much garlic can also cause gut complications and gastrointestinal distress among other ailments, like anemia.

In addition to the turkey fixings causing toxicity, the turkey skin is loaded with fat that can be an overload to a pet, especially with how quickly they’ll gobble it up. Small, brittle bones of a cooked turkey can break inside the digestive system, resulting in perforations along the GI tract. Too large of turkey pieces and cooked bones can also result in blockages and choking hazards.


While most dogs and cats will beg relentlessly for turkey scraps, they don’t realize that a couple snippets could send them straight to the emergency room with a life-threatening condition, or at least with an upset stomach resulting in diarrhea.

In fact, nearly every emergency veterinary clinic intakes a patient on Thanksgiving who is suffering from pancreatitis due to holiday meal ingestion. Acute pancreatitis can be reversed at an uncomfortable and costly fee, but if not caught in time, it can be fatal or cause chronic complications.

It’s important to let visitors know not to feed the animals – not from the plate nor dropping table scraps into the dog’s bowl with their regular food.

For more tips on how to keep your pet safe this Thanksgiving, check out our holiday guide and see what other people foods are toxic for your pet.

Has your dog or cat ever had any issues after eating a piece of the Thanksgiving turkey? Tell us about your furry friend in the comments below.

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Can Dogs and Cats Have Some of the Thanksgiving Turkey?