Thanksgiving is one of the oldest traditions in the United States. This celebration serves as an opportunity to give thanks for family, friends, and food. With guests arriving, the kitchen busy with preparation and cooking, travel plans being made, or your home being rearranged for Thursday’s big meal, it can be easy for your pets to get lost in the shuffle.

However, you should consider your four-legged family member’s safety during the holiday weekend. Here’s what they should and shouldn’t be eating, how to make spending the holiday away from home easier for them, and how to help them feel more comfortable when your home becomes the center of holiday festivities!

Dinner Time

Thanksgiving dinner is the centerpiece of the entire holiday weekend and provides plenty of temptation for your pets. Pets take all types of approaches to get in on the action. They conveniently “nap” under the table and wait for food to fall to the floor, work your guests with carefully practiced begging techniques, and sometimes just stand by waiting for the perfect opportunity to jump onto the table. It’s important to know which Thanksgiving dishes are safe and which are downright dangerous.

dog sitting under table, Turkey Day Safety!: How To Include Your Pets In Your Holiday Celebrations

Foods That Are Okay To Share

Sweet Potatoes – a good source of fiber and essential vitamins, just don’t share any that have been seasoned.
Potatoes – if they’re boiled or baked they’re okay to share with no toppings added.
Turkey – a small amount of cooked turkey is okay and provides your pet quality protein, but remember NO bones OR skin.
Pumpkin – great for your pet’s digestive system in small portions as long as it’s plain pumpkin. NO pumpkin pie mix!
Apples – provide great fiber and also help to clean your pet’s teeth, don’t let them have the core or any seeds.
Cranberries – when served in small amounts, the antioxidants and vitamins in plain, raw cranberries can have great benefits for your pet, just don’t serve them cranberry sauce.

Foods That Are NOT Okay To Share

The rest of the Turkey – while turkey meat is perfectly fine to share with your pets, bones and skin can easily cause damage to your pet’s digestive system or blockage.
Onions or Garlic – ALL parts of onion and garlic plants are toxic to pets, large amounts can be deadly.
Desserts – pies of any kind, ice cream, or sweets are all dangerous to your pet. Sugar, lactose, and artificial sweeteners can be difficult for your pet to digest and could lead to complications.
Mashed Potatoes – while boiled or baked potatoes are fine to share, mashed potatoes contain high levels of salt and fat, which can easily make your pet sick.
Stuffing – most stuffing contains high amounts of onions and/or garlic, so avoid it entirely.
Raisins and Grapes – even small amounts of grapes or raisins can cause severe illness and be potentially fatal.

You can also get ahead of your pet’s begging and make them a small dish of their own to enjoy during dinner!

If the Thanksgiving table is just too tempting for your food-stealing pup, consider DogWatch Indoor Pet Fences. Safe, easy-to-use and customizable, our indoor electronic pet fences help keep your pets out of certain rooms in the house or away from trouble spots like kitchen counters or trash cans. Talk to your local DogWatch Dealer today and keep your pet safe and your house under control this holiday season.

Prepare Your Home

Holiday parties and gatherings are full of fun and excitement, but they can be a bit much for your pet. Whether your pet is social, shy, aggressive, or is slightly lacking in the training department, loud gatherings with a lot of people can quickly become complicated. It’s best to get ahead of any potential incidents by doing what you can for your pet ahead of time.

Dog at gathering, Turkey Day Safety!: How To Include Your Pets In Your Holiday Celebrations

Tire them out. As soon as your guests start arriving and the excitement begins, you’ll want to avoid an over-enthusiastic pet. If you have a dog, take them for a long walk or to your local dog park for an extended play session early in the day. If you have a cat, try a new interactive toy, hide-and-seek, or a solid session of play with their favorite toys (and maybe a little catnip).

Give them a place of their own. Whether or not your pet is social, it’s best to have a quiet, safe space arranged for them. Give your pet a supply of clean water, their favorite bedding, and a few toys in a room that only they will have access. A crate is also an option if you have a particularly anxious pet. If you have a dog, don’t forget to give them regular trips outside throughout the day.

If children are coming to your home, make sure to monitor interactions with your pet carefully. As you probably know, children can get too excited around pets and causing them a great deal of anxiety.

Going On Vacation

Traveling with your pet can be exciting, but it can also be stressful. It’s important to not only prepare your pet for trips in your car, but also for adjusting to the place they are visiting.

dog in backseat of car, Turkey Day Safety!: How To Include Your Pets In Your Holiday Celebrations

In The Car

Make sure these essentials are in the car and ready to go – water bowl, enough food, any medications, poop bags, updated identification tags, collar, leash, any necessary medical records of vaccination certifications, towel, kennel, favorite bed, or blanket, plenty of toys.
Tire them out – much like you would when preparing for a gathering, take your dog on a long walk or for an extended play session at the local dog park before hopping in the car. If you’re traveling with a cat, engage them in a play session before heading out. This will help them sleep through most of the car ride!
NO snacks – if your dog or cat gets carsick, or you aren’t sure if they get carsick, it’s best to have them travel on an empty stomach.
Plan bathroom breaks – make sure your pup never goes more than two hours without a bathroom break. If you’re traveling for more than 5-6 hours, bring a litterbox your cat can access.
Keep them confined – you do NOT want your pup roaming around the car unrestrained. Consider investing in a hammock seat cover and dog seatbelt for your dog’s safety and your own. If you have a cat, a crate or travel tent is a great idea.
Test run – if you’re nervous about how your pet may react to a long trip, try taking a series of short drives to help them get used to the car.
Keep them busy – just like people, it’s easy for pets to get bored on long car rides. Consider purchasing a few new toys to keep them occupied.
Know before you go – make a list of 24-hour vet clinics near your destination, just in case.

dog at front door, Turkey Day Safety!: How To Include Your Pets In Your Holiday Celebrations

At Your Destination 

Take it slow with new friends – if you’re introducing a dog to a dog who lives at the home you’re visiting, do it outside. Meetings inside can cause boundary issues. If the home you’re visiting has a cat, make sure the cat has a safe space away from your pets.
Bring your own everything – boundary issues also extend to toys, bowls, beds, and food. Make sure that you bring supplies from home and aren’t borrowing anything from the resident pets.
Brush up on training – before you head to a friend or family member’s home, make sure that your pet’s manners are on point. The last thing anybody wants is a rude guest!
Remember to give your dog time to adjust to a new space – consider keeping them on-leash for a short while to get used to their surroundings. It’s also best to bring a crate, just in case.


If you take the proper precautions, Thanksgiving can be a wonderful holiday for the entire family to enjoy, even your four-legged family members. A little preparation and effort go a long way to keeping your pets safe and safely including them in your celebrations, wherever they may be!