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How to Pup-Proof Your Holiday Menu

How to Pup-Proof Your Holiday Menu

. 8 min read

With the focus of the Thanksgiving holiday clearly around the menu, its no surprise that it's an epic tease for hungry pups. If you’re spending the day (or week) in the kitchen roasting, basting, stirring and tasting, chances are there is a four-legged friend watching your every move.

While you might not be able to resist those sad, sweet eyes staring up at you, waiting for a delicious morsel to drop, it is important to know that some holiday foods are off-limits for your pup.

In order to prevent a holiday medical emergency or some gastrointestinal distress, we looked at common Thanksgiving dishes to find options that delight your dog while keeping them safe.

While one day of indulgence shouldn’t hurt your pup it's important to know what's okay to share. The suggestions below are general guidelines. If your pup has allergies or a medical condition, avoid foods that will trigger a reaction. When in doubt, consult your vet before the big day.

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Safe foods to share with your dog on Thanksgiving day

From appetizers to the main course and even dessert, there are plenty of food options that you can share with your dog. We've listed some of the most common things your dog can enjoy on Thanksgiving below.

Cheese (firm, low-lactose) - If you put out some cheese for people to snack on while you finish prepping your meal, its okay to share some with your pup. Cheeses that are low in lactose and lower in fat like parmesan, cheddar and mozzarella are your best bets. Not all cheeses should be shared. High fat cheeses like triple creme, brie and some blue cheeses should be off limits. Another type of cheese to avoid is flavored cheese with things like garlic, onion, chive, or hot peppers as these can irritate your pup’s stomach too. When it doubt, choose another treat!

Crudite (hold the dip) - If you add a crudite platter with veggies and dip to your snack spread, sharing the veggies with your dog should be just fine. In fact, these low cal crunchy treats can help your best friend feel included and not deprived. Carrots and cucumbers are popular with canine guests but if your pup is adventurous feel free to try offering some broccoli. Just remember to skip the creamy, mayo based dips. A little cream cheese is okay if your pup tolerates it.

Butternut squash soup (with a few modifications) - Bone broth can have many health benefits for your pup. If you use it as the base for your butternut squash soup, your pup can enjoy it with you. If you are planning to share with canine guests, leave out the garlic, onions, nutmeg and ultra rich toppings like sour cream and bacon. You can use some fresh parsley as a garnish if you’re feeling fancy. As a bonus it will help keep pup’s breath fresh!

Turkey - Like you, your dog has probably been smelling the turkey all day and is so ready for their fair share. Its completely okay to offer your pup some turkey under a few conditions. Offer white meat with no skin, turkey bones, or gravy. Cooked bones are dangerous for dogs as they can splinter - no one wants to end dinner with an emergency trip to the vet!

Chicken - If you are having a smaller gathering this year or simply prefer to roast a chicken, this is also okay to share with your dog. Same rules apply as the turkey, keep the skin, bones and gravy off your pup's plate.

Fish - If your family is pescitarian or simply enjoys having some fish on the Thanksgiving table, it might be ok to share with your dog. If you bake your fish in a creamy or fatty sauce, consider leaving a piece plain for your pup to enjoy. Salmon and whitefish are among the best choices. You can even share plain oysters with your pup. Avoid sharing fish like tuna that can have high mercury content.

Green beans (plain, sauteed) - If you are serving a green vegetable like sauteed green beans you can certainly share these with your dog. They are low in calories and packed with nutrients. For your pup, keep these pretty plain and skip the heavy seasonings or generous amounts of butter or oil. You can top theirs with fresh herbs like parsley if they enjoy that.

Sweet potatoes (hold the toppings) - Roasted or baked sweet potatoes are loaded with fiber and other nutrients. If your pup enjoys them it is okay to offer some with their holiday meal. Do not give them casseroles loaded with maple syrup, marshmallows or nuts!

Mashed potatoes (hold the butter, cream and salt) - You can ‘save’ some mashed potatoes for your pup. Before you add the butter, cream and salt to yours, take out a small portion for your dog. The extra fat and salt isn’t good for your dog’s stomach but potatoes contain fiber and vitamins so they are considered an acceptable source of carbohydrates.

Spinach (steamed or sauteed) - Spinach is another superfood that your dog can safely enjoy as part of their holiday meal. Sauteed or steamed spinach is fine to offer to your pup. You can see if they will eat it raw, but most pups will spit out uncooked spinach and look for something more appealing.

Fresh fruit - If you want to give your dog a sweet but healthy treat consider a piece of fruit while all the humans chow down on pie. Great choices include berries, apples or melon. As out of season fruit can be pricey you might want to stick to what is in season.

Whipped cream - If you are making some whipped cream (or throwing some store bought in a bowl), you can certainly share a taste with your dog. For lactose intolerant pups, consider coconut whipped cream.

Holiday puppy pie - If you want to make a special dessert for your best friend you can make them their own puppy pie. Take some dog treats and crush them up, spoon into a small ramekin. Top with pumpkin puree (not pie filling) that you can sweeten with a touch of honey and sprinkle of cinnamon and a drop of whipped cream.

Unsafe foods to avoid sharing with your dog on Thanksgiving

While you may choose to focus on all of the things your dog can have that are part of the Thanksgiving meal, you may be wondering what things are unsafe for them to eat. The following list contains some of the most important things to avoid sharing with your dog. In most cases, if your dog grabs a taste of one of these items, it won't be a big deal, but there are a few foods like grapes and raisins (and things that contain them) that can be very toxic to your pup.

Charcuterie - If you serve some meat with your cheese board, you should mostly refrain from sharing these with your pup. Popular Charcuterie choices like salami, prosciutto, and pate are going to be too high in fat for your dog and often contain spices like nutmeg or hot pepper that can make your dog sick.

Grapes - Do not ever feed your dog grapes or raisins. They can be deadly to dogs even in small quantities. Vets aren’t 100% sure why this is or how little your dog needs to ingest to get very sick. Remind any guests in your home that they should not share grapes or raisins with your dog. Should your pup get a grape or raisin by accident, call the vet immediately for further instruction.

Pickles or olives - While a few unsalted olives might be ok to offer you pup, most of the pickles and olives that we eat will be too high in sodium. Additionally, some of the spices used in the pickling process might make your pup sick. It’s best to leave these for the humans.

Ham - Avoid sharing holiday ham with your dog. It is high in both fat and salt which can lead to upset stomach or pancreatitis

Stuffing - Bread, onions and lots of butter make stuffing a no-go for your pup. Most dogs can tolerate a little bit of wheat flour but a large chunk of bread is completely unnecessary. Not to mention the toxic onions and loads of fatty butter. Since your pup’s plate and belly should be getting plenty full, you don’t have to feel bad about having them pass on this dish.

Cranberry Sauce - While cranberries are just fine for you pup, you will want to avoid sharing cranberry sauce. No matter if it is store-bought or home made, it will have way too much sugar for your dog. You can share dried cranberries with your pup but before you do, check the ingredients some dried cranberries have added sugar or our sweetened with fruit juice. Apple juice sweetened cranberries are ok but be wary of cranberries that are sweetened with grape juice as these will make your pup sick.

Green bean casserole - Sharing some fresh green beans with your pup is a great way to allow them to indulge safely but you will want to keep them away from green bean casseroles. These contain additional fat and dairy and are usually topped with fried onion straws.

Creamed corn or corn pudding - While corn won’t make your pup sick, the added cream and bacon or onions in dishes like creamed corn or corn pudding can. If you want to share some corn with your dog on the holiday keep it plain but off the cob.

Pecan and pumpkin pies - These are definitely a no-go for your pup. Loaded with nuts, sugar and spices like nutmeg they are sure to make your pup sick. Even if they don’t they are much too high in fat and calories. Consuming this much sugar regularly can put your pup on the path to obesity or diabetes.

Cookies, cakes and other baked goods - These should also be a no-go for your pup. In addition to a lot of butter, oil and sugar many popular recipes feature ingredients that can make your dog sick. Watch out for chocolate chips or shavings, nutmeg, raisins and nuts like macadamias.

When in doubt, fix your dog a plate of Ollie

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If you got exhausted just reading this list, we have another solution for you! Ollie's Turkey recipe is the perfect Thanksgiving treat. You can forget about the table scraps and offer your dog something that was prepared especially for them.

In addition to gently cooked human-grade turkey breast and liver we add superfoods like kale, blueberries, and pumpkin to make a well balanced and nutritionally complete meal. These ingredients contain antioxidants to keep inflammation at bay and plenty of fiber to support healthy digestion. Our lean proteins and perfect portions will help keep your pup energized and at a healthy weight.

Since we offer 2-day shipping its not too late to have some on your doorstep before the big day. Tell us about your pup and we’ll figure out the perfect meal plan for them. You can then have the perfect portions sent straight to your door. Our meals aren't just for Thanksgiving! They last up to 6 months if you keep them frozen. Once thawed and opened your pet should enjoy within four days.

The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.