Content reviewed by Nell Ostermeier, D.V.M., CVA, FAAVA.
Pet parents should consult their veterinarian and trusted resources for food-recommendations specific to their dog or cat.
Thanksgiving is the perfect day to embrace the two of life’s greatest gifts: food and gratitude. For many of us, our pets hold a special place in our hearts, having been by our side through life's quirky moments—from serving as a barrier between us and eccentric Aunt Jane, to being our soulful sidekick during awkward family gatherings, and even proudly holding the title of our parents' first "grandchild.”
As we look forward to the elaborate spread of deliciousness, why leave our copilots behind? Let's level up the festive mood by planning a perfectly pet-friendly Thanksgiving menu that'll have tails wagging everywhere.
Why include pets in holiday traditions?
Some might wonder, "Why even bother with a pet-centric menu?" We’d like to say we get it, but here’s the thing. For many, pets aren't just pets. They're part of the fam, and what better occasion than Thanksgiving to show some extra love?
Including them in festivities not only strengthens the human - animal bond but also makes for some lifelong memories. Just remember moderation is key. No one wants an over-stuffed or sick pet – the aftermath isn’t cute.
Lay down some ground rules:
1. Set the Stage: Before diving into the menu, establish a dedicated space for your pet. This can discourage begging and keep them involved without being intrusive.
It's easier to ensure they won’t get a treat that is not part of your plan. Plus, it's a great way to minimize any risk of food aggression, especially when additional pets or unfamiliar faces (like your niece who's on a petting spree) are around.
2. Beware of Food Aggression: Holidays are exciting, and with more people around, pets might get a tad territorial. Always supervise when kids approach pets during mealtimes.
A gentle reminder to young ones about giving pets their space can go a long way. When in doubt, use a crate or separate room to keep the night peaceful.
The menu reveal:
Note: Always consult your vet before introducing new foods to your pet’s diet. The following menu is meant to be a treat, served in small portions, and shouldn’t replace regular meals.
Doggie dinner delight:
1. Starter: Pumpkin pup puree
Blend steamed pumpkin (avoid the canned, sugary kind) with a little water. Pumpkin is great for digestion and most dogs love the taste.
Note: Organic canned pumpkin is safe and often recommended by vets for digestive issues or to promote normal stools.
2. Main course: Turkey & veggie mash
Cook lean turkey pieces (ensure there are no bones and little to no fat). Mix with steamed carrots and peas. Rich in protein and essential veggies – this is the real deal!
3. Dessert: Sweet potato bites
Steam and mash sweet potatoes, then shape them into small bites. Bake until they're just firm. They're naturally sweet, and dogs usually love 'em. Just ensure there is no butter or brown sugar added to the mix.
An easier option if you're pressed for time is to make sweet potato chips. Just slice thin and bake until they are toasted! Omit seasoning and any additional fat to keep them pet-safe.
Kitty's culinary feast:
FYI: Most cats don’t like things added directly to or on top of their food. They are more open to side dishes or a separate treat.
1. Starter: Tuna tartare
A small serving of plain canned tuna (in water). An instant hit among our feline friends.
2. Main course: Turkey tatters
Take some roasted or baked turkey pieces with the skin removed and shred them finely. Cats are obligate carnivores, and this will be right up their alley.
3. Side: Pea crunchies
While cats are primarily meat-eaters, an occasional pea or two can be a fun treat. Steam and offer a couple for them to play with and nibble. Your feline may turn up their nose, but hey, at least you tried!
Another option: Many cats will eat organic canned pumpkin or homemade puree as a side to their regular food. Consider making the pupkin pup puree for your feline's feast if they're opposed to peas.
4. Dessert: Catnip surprise
No, it’s not to eat, but a catnip-filled toy can end the meal on a euphoric note. It's like their version of an after-dinner mint!
Thanksgiving is about warmth, gratitude, and shared memories. As we gather around the table, it's a heartwarming sight to see our pets relishing a feast curated just for them.
It's not just about the food but the love that goes into making the day special for every family member. As always, keep your vet in the loop and ensure all dishes are pet-friendly.
If your pet likes these whole food meals, you could consider serving them as an accompaniment or topping on a regular basis to augment their diet and enhance their nutrition plan!
Lizz Caputo is the Manager of Content Strategy at Figo, animal enthusiast, and owner of a rescued senior American Bully. Her hobbies include checking out new restaurants in her area, boxing, and petting dogs of all shapes and sizes.