Little dog dressed up in pilgrim hat surrounded by Thanksgiving decor

Thanksgiving with your Dog

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday to bring family and friends together, albeit this year, due to COVID, it might just be you and your dog. Regardless, if it’s just the two of you or your whole family, there’s no reason your dog can’t enjoy the celebration. All it takes is a little planning and a few easy modifications.

Talking turkey

If you are roasting a turkey at home, your dog can enjoy the bird along with you! Just keep it simple and skip the brine.

In Chinese Medicine, turkey is neutral to cool food, which is especially great for older dogs or those who have a Yin deficiency.

To make sure your dog does not suffer from intestinal upset, bake your turkey without slathering on the butter, oil, and seasonings. That’s where problems could begin. If you season your turkey, keep it simple with just a few herbs, and don’t feed the skin to your dog. The fat content of the skin, when eaten in excess, could lead to pancreatitis, and seasonings could possibly irritate your dog’s digestive system.

Dark meat has more iron, zinc, riboflavin, thiamine, and vitamins B6 and B12 than white, but white is lower in fat. So both have their benefits.

Sitting around the table, make sure that no one slips your dog a cooked turkey bone. Poultry bones become very brittle when cooked and are small in size, which spells disaster for your dog who could suffer from an obstruction, choking, bone fragments piercing the lining of the stomach or intestines, constipation, rectal bleeding, or a blockage that requires emergency surgery. Scary stuff!! So never feed cooked poultry bones.

Raw turkey neck on the other hand is a high-quality protein and contains glucosamine, chondroitin, calcium, phosphorous, and other trace minerals. It can be messy, so put down a towel if you are going to feed a raw turkey neck and only serve a small amount if giving it to a small dog.

woman and dog with thanksgiving turkey

Pass on the stuffing

You’ll want to bypass the stuffing when sharing your holiday feast with your dog. Stuffing often includes onions that are toxic and that means onion powder too.

Image of dog with thanksgiving dinner
Thanksgiving turkey, green beans, plain sweet potato, cranberry, and pumpkin

Go for the greens

Green bean casserole wouldn’t be a good choice for your dog, but chopped up steamed green beans would be great! A little plain baked sweet potato, (not the yams covered in butter and marshmallows) are another great addition to your dog’s Thanksgiving plate. 

When cooking cranberries, have a separate pot for your dog and boil them in plain water without sugar. Let your dog have a teaspoon with dinner and reserve the rest to freeze in ice cube trays. Bring out as desired to add to your dog’s meals.

Cranberry ice cubes

Pumpkin for your lil’ pumpkin

When it comes time for pie, your dog can enjoy a tablespoon of plain baked pumpkin without all the spices.

I always cook two pumpkins, one for a pie and one for my dog. Just cut your pumpkins in half dividing at the stem, and bake for an hour at 350 degrees. Allow to cool, then scrape out the seeds and puree the meat. Reserve the amount you want to serve to your dog for Thanksgiving. Divide the remaining amount into tablespoons and freeze in ice cube trays to serve to your dog another day. Pumpkin is great to have on hand for upset tummies and fresh is better than canned.

A special canned dinner

If you prefer to give your dog canned food, Merrick has a recipe called Thanksgiving Day Dinner. It has turkey, sweet potato, carrots, apples, and green beans. Keep it special and only serve this one on Thanksgiving Day!


As you dish up leftovers for another day, clean off the turkey bones and make a nice bone broth for your dog. Bone broth is loaded with great nutrients, helps heal a leaky gut, and is great for joint health.

Home alone

Not everyone is able to bring their dog along if going to someone else’s house for Thanksgiving. That could mean several hours of your dog being home alone. Do something nice together before you have to leave the house, like taking a long walk, spending a little extra ball time, or something out of the ordinary that makes the day special.

Give thanks

Most importantly take the time to give thanks for your wonderful companion and the life you share together. Pets are family and the holidays are for us to share together. Plan ahead and keep them safe. With just a little effort to include them, you will have wonderful memories to cherish forever.

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