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Home > Dogs > 10 Thanksgiving Safety Tips for Dogs (Meal & Traveling-Related)

10 Thanksgiving Safety Tips for Dogs (Meal & Traveling-Related)

poodle dog sits on porch with pumpkins and dry grass in autumn

Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy sweet and savory treats with the ones you love. While you might want your dog to join in on the festivities, not all of the traditional fare is safe for the canines in the crowd. Unless you know exactly what’s in the dish, you shouldn’t feed it to your dog because some popular recipes include toxic ingredients such as garlic, onions, and nutmeg. Besides the meal, there are a few other safety concerns to consider if you’re traveling with your pup. Read on to learn how to make the holiday a safe and fun experience for everyone involved.

We’ve got you covered with Thanksgiving safety tips for:


The 5 Thanksgiving Meal Safety Tips for Dogs

1. Pumpkin puree is safe but skip the spice

Pure canned pumpkin with no added sugar or flavorings is actually healthy for your dog. In moderation, pumpkin can soothe digestive upset and some dogs like the taste. However, you should never feed your dog pumpkin pie filling, or any pumpkin-flavored dessert or drink. Pumpkin spice often consists of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. While your dog can have cinnamon in moderation, nutmeg is toxic in high amounts. A little nibble probably wouldn’t hurt them, but it’s best not to take the risk. Additionally, you should avoid all desserts—not just the pumpkin pie—because of the sugar or artificial sweeteners, which are almost always bad for dogs.

homemade pumpkin puree in a bowl
Image Credit: Gamzova Olga, Shutterstock

2. Never give your dog raw or under-cooked food

Raw meat and raw dough are the biggest threats. Uncooked poultry can carry diseases such as salmonella. Raw yeast can cause dangerous bloat, not to mention it can ferment.

3. Thoroughly cooked turkey is okay in small amounts

It’s probably fine to let your dog snack on a little piece of turkey, but remove the bones and skin. Poultry bones are never safe for your dog, as they can splinter and become dangerously lodged in their intestines. The skin might not be a good idea either if the turkey has been seasoned with spices.

delicious sliced turkey breast on wooden board
Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

4. Dairy products should be given in moderation, if at all

While cheese and milk aren’t intrinsically harmful to your pet, they contain high levels of fat and should be given in limited amounts. Some dogs are actually lactose intolerant, so you’ll need to skip the dairy entirely for these dogs. If you want to treat them, you can offer your dog goat milk or goat cheese instead.

5. Onions, garlic, chocolate, alcohol, grapes, raisins, and most sweeteners are TOXIC

Most people know not to give their dog blatantly dangerous foods, like chocolate. But honestly, if you don’t know exactly what’s in the dish, it’s better to give your dog a treat instead. Even mashed potatoes may not be completely safe since they commonly contain garlic powder.

a dog near a window looking up
Image Credit: Leohoho, Pixabay


The 5 Tips on How to Travel Safely with Your Dog

In addition to the anticipated meal, there are a few other safety concerns to consider when you’re spending Thanksgiving with your dog. If you decide not to board your dog when you travel, you’ll need to make sure to take some extra precautions so that they have an enjoyable and safe trip.

1. Deal with your dog’s car anxiety before you hit the road

In the days leading up to the grand adventure, take your dog on a few short outings in the car to get them acclimated to the vehicle. If they show signs of severe anxiety or car sickness, talk to their vet about medication for your trip.

Dog relaxing while sticking head head out of the car window
Image Credit: Ignacio Amenábar, Unsplash

2. Pack them food and water

Give access to water every couple of hours. If your dog isn’t susceptible to car sickness, you can also offer them food when you stop. However, if your dog feels a little queasy on the road, it’s best to hold off on the food until you arrive as long as your trip will take 12 hours or less. You also might not want to let them eat in the few hours leading up to the trip to minimize the risk of car sickness.

3. Take a bathroom break every couple of hours

It’s easy to power through the drive, especially if you’re trying to beat the traffic. However, your dog can’t hold their bladder as long as you can. Plan on pulling over every couple of hours or so to let your dog stretch their legs and relieve themselves before hopping back on the road. Rest stops are excellent places to take a break, and some gas stations, such as Love’s, frequently have small dog parks where your dog can romp around while your travel partner refuels.

dog in car on petrol station with owner outside
Image By: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

4. Don’t leave your dog in the car unattended

Temperatures and strangers are equal dangers to an unattended pup. Hot weather can kill your dog in minutes, and unfortunately, someone could try to steal your dog or “rescue” them from the car. It’s best to travel with a partner who can take turns staying with the dog while you go to the restroom or run in the store.

If you’re traveling alone, try to find a pet-friendly store such as Homegoods, PetSmart, or Petco where you can take your dog with you into the restroom. Lowe’s and Home Depot also frequently allow dogs in the store depending on the location, although their official policy says that they don’t. When getting food, utilize drive-thrus and curbside pickup to avoid leaving your pup stranded, or look for places with outside seating if you have a little more time.

5. Scout out your vacation site to make sure it’s pup-friendly

If you’re staying at a hotel or vacation home, you’ll obviously need to check to see if it’s pet-friendly before booking. Sneaking your dog into a place that doesn’t allow pets can result in hefty fines, not to mention make you feel anxious during your entire trip, so it’s better to find a place where they’ll be welcomed. Once you get there, search the room for anything that could harm your dog, such as dangling electric cords, and make the appropriate arrangements to ensure a safe stay.

man on phone with dog on sofa
Image By: SvetikovaV, Shutterstock


How to Prepare a Fabulous Feast for Your Furry Friend

If your dog is begging to be a part of the fun, you can supplement their regular food with some dog-friendly Thanksgiving fare. Cooked turkey, green beans, pumpkin puree, and cranberries are all safe, as long as they don’t contain any harmful added ingredients such as garlic powder or sugar. Remember, any food can cause digestive upset in large quantities, so only give your dog samples of these dishes if you decide to indulge them.

english bulldog eating pumpkin
Image By: Corrie Miracle, Pixabay



If you’re like us, your dog probably ranks high on your list of things to be grateful for this season. Thanksgiving can be a fun holiday full of food, family, friends, and special trips. However, not all of the yummy foods on the spread are safe for your four-legged friend. Take some time to prepare for your dog’s meal and travel plans so they can have a healthy and happy vacation too.

Featured Image Credit: KlavdiyaV, Shutterstock

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