Thanksgiving dog

Chewy EditorialHolidays / Pet Parenting

Chewy Health Hour: A Vet’s Guide to Thanksgiving with Dogs and Cats in 2020

Our pets have been by our side through a year that has been tumultuous at best, providing us with a much-needed source of comfort and sense of companionship. And as Thanksgiving approaches, we encourage pet parents to show their pets gratitude by keeping them safe from all the tempting food commonly served on this holiday (and by whipping them up a tasty, pet-friendly treat, of course!).

To help make your own Thanksgiving celebration more pet safe, we gathered up your top questions about Turkey Day with pets and asked our resident vet, Dr. Katy Nelson, for her advice. From dog begging prevention to how to make the day fun for pets, let’s dig in.

All questions and answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Thanksgiving dog

Q: Can a cat or dog eat turkey?
A: The short answer is yes, as you will note that there are lots of pet foods out there that contain turkey. When it comes to sharing your own gobbler, stick to a small portion of white breast meat which is nice and lean. And, remember to remove the skin which is too fatty for pets.

Q: What foods can we drop on the floor “by accident?”
A: Probably the best items to hit the floor would be some lean, white meat turkey with no skin, fresh pumpkin, fresh carrots or fresh green beans. All of these make a yummy and safe treat for our pets. Remember, treats should only make up 10 percent of your dog’s diet, so feed your pet these foods sparingly.

Make sure to keep your pet away from these toxic Thanksgiving foods.

Q: Does turkey make cats sleep? Mine slept for a day after eating some.
A: Turkey does contain an amino acid called tryptophan, which can have a calming effect on people and sometimes pets. It could be that your kitty was sleeping off the turkey or maybe your cat was sleeping off the extremely busy day they had the day before. So, you never know.

Q: How do I stop my dogs from begging? Especially around small children!
A: Begging is a learned behavior, and when they’re successful they’re going to continue doing it. So for special occasions, it may be best to create a little Zen space away from the table for your pet so you can have a stress-free and safe Thanksgiving dinner.

Here’s how to create a Zen space for your dog.

Q: How can you stop your dog from begging at the table?

A: To stop begging long term in your household, I would recommend checking out CCPDT.org to find a professional dog trainer in your area that can help you squash that behavior.

Try these tips at home to help curb begging behavior in dogs and get pointers here on how to politely tell guests not to feed your pet table scraps no matter how much Fluffy and Fido beg.

Thanksgiving dog

Q: What are some Thanksgiving dog-friendly recipes?
A: I’m so glad you asked. The folks here at Chewy have whipped up the most delicious treats that are dog- and human-friendly: turkey cranberry meatballs for dogs.

If you’d like to make your pet a treat at home, you can also try making some turkey jerky in your oven. Slice some turkey meat really thin, put your oven at about 250 degrees and cook it for about three hours. Don’t want to cook? Try out Tyee’s Turkey Jerky dog treats made right here in the USA.

Q: What should I do if my pets get into the holiday feast when I’m not looking?
A: If your pet consumes something they’re not supposed to during the holidays ensure you have three numbers nearby:

  1. The number to your veterinarian
  2. The number to an after-hours facility in case you need to go to the ER
  3. The number to the Pet Poison Hotline at (855) 764-7661

We won’t be having large gatherings like we used to, but if you are having guests coming into town this year for Thanksgiving, remember that the No. 1 thing that pets are poisoned by every year are human medications. So make sure that if you do have guests, those guest rooms are closed up tight and you have the number to Pet Poison Control handy at all times.

Q: How much turkey is too much turkey?
A: It depends on so many things, like the size of your pet and their tolerance for things outside of their dietary norm. So if you’re seeing any sign of distress in your pets, I would recommend giving your vet a call just to be safe.

Q: What can I give my dog for dessert?
A: I don’t know about you, but I always love a coffee after a big meal. So while our pets can’t have caffeine, how about a coffee-free version of a pumpkin spice latte for your dog? Super easy, super delicious and super healthy.


If you find this Q&A helpful, follow us on Instagram and stay tuned for upcoming Health Hour vet chats with Dr. Katy Nelson in the coming weeks.

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By: Chewy Editorial

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