Based on an article that first appeared at

As you gather around the Thanksgiving dinner table to express gratitude, your beloved pet likely holds a special place on your list of things to be thankful for. Thanksgiving revolves around food and cherished company, and that includes our furry companions. However, it's vital to prioritize pet safety during this holiday season.

While you may want your dog or cat to partake in the festivities, the holiday stretch can pose various risks for them. The presence of unfamiliar guests and increased activity can trigger stress and anxiety, and several aspects, from Thanksgiving dishes to decorations, can be hazardous.

Cat relaxing on sweater.

Being Safe

Ensuring the well-being of your pet this Thanksgiving is paramount, and we're here to guide you through being a responsible pet parent not only on turkey day but also beyond.

  1. Watch the Food: Many Thanksgiving foods are not safe for pets. As hard as it is, table scraps should be avoided when it comes to our furry friends. Bypass giving them turkey bones, gravy, onions, garlic, chocolate, grapes, raisins, and anything sweetened with xylitol. Check out a list of foods that are harmful for your pets HERE.
  2. Secure Trash: The trash can be a treasure trove of tempting scraps. Make sure it's securely covered to prevent your pet from digging in and potentially ingesting harmful items.
  3. Decorations: Keep an eye on your pet around decorations like candles, flowers, and essential oils/ potporri. Curious pets can knock them over or ingest them. These aren’t only toxin hazards but can cause intestinal obstructions!
  4. Emergency Contact: Have the contact information for an emergency veterinarian on hand in case of any accidents or illnesses.
  5. Inform and Educate Guests: Let your guests know about any house rules related to your pets. For instance, they shouldn't feed the animals or let them out without supervision. If your pets are skittish or aren't comfortable around new people, tell your guests so they can approach or interact with them appropriately.
  6. Comfort: Remember, while including your pet in the festivities can be wonderful, it’s essential to be mindful of their comfort and safety throughout Thanksgiving celebrations. The hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving can be overwhelming for pets, especially if you have many guests over. Set up a quiet, comfortable area for your pets where they can retreat if things get too noisy or hectic. This is especially crucial for cats, who often prefer having a quiet escape. Put their favorite toys, bedding, and some water in that space. Let your pet have a “guest-free” zone where they can relax and recoup.

Chocolate lab making pumpkin treats with owner.

Coming Together

For many of us, our pets are considered integral parts of the family, and so it's natural to want to include them in the holiday festivities.

Here are three ways to ensure your furry friends have a memorable Thanksgiving celebration alongside you:

  1. Special Treats: Instead of feeding them scraps from the table, which can be harmful, prepare special treats for your pets. For dogs, you could make homemade biscuits using pumpkin or sweet potato, which are both dog-friendly ingredients. Cats can be given a bit of plain cooked turkey (make sure it's boneless and skinless) or specially prepared catnip toys. Remember, as mentioned above, some traditional Thanksgiving foods like onions, garlic, raisins, grapes, chocolate, and certain artificial sweeteners (like xylitol) are toxic to pets, so always be cautious about what you're sharing.
  2. Interactive Play: Use the holiday as an opportunity to spend quality time with your pets. Maybe after dinner, engage in a playful game of fetch with your dog in the backyard or tease your cat with a feather toy. This not only helps them burn off energy but also strengthens the bond you share. Extra walks with different family members are always a new adventure for our pups!
  3. Involve Them in Traditions: If you have traditions like saying what you're thankful for, don’t forget to mention your pets. They might not understand your words, but the positive attention and maybe an extra scratch or two will surely be appreciated. For those who take post-feast strolls, consider taking your dog along for a walk.

Reflecting on Gratitude

As Thanksgiving approaches and we prepare to give thanks for the abundance in our lives, it's essential to remember our furry companions, too. They bring us endless joy, comfort, and companionship, so ensuring their safety and well-being during the festivities is important.

As pet owners, let's embrace the spirit of gratitude by making thoughtful choices that prioritize their health and happiness. Whether it's setting aside special treats, creating a serene sanctuary away from the hustle, or simply showering them with extra love and attention, let's make this Thanksgiving memorable for all family members, two-legged and four. Here’s to a Thanksgiving filled with purrs, woofs, and happy wags!


The Katz Kitchen Presents: Pumpkin Dog Treats

  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree (NOT PUMPKIN PIE FILLING!)
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine bouillon granules, canned pumpkin, and egg until the mixture is well combined.
  3. Gradually add the whole wheat flour and salt, mixing until the dough comes together.
  4. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to about 1/2 inch thickness.
  5. Use fun cookie-cutter shapes for extra cuteness!
  6. Place treats on an ungreased baking sheet.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes or until the treats turn a golden brown color.
  8. Allow treats to cool completely on a wire rack.
  9. Store the homemade dog treats in an airtight container to keep them fresh for leftovers.

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