Keep Animals in Mind This Thanksgiving With These Tips

A dog leaping up to the ledge of a table with food.

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching! While the holidays are a joyous time, this busy, food-filled season can pose serious health risks to pets.

Hectic grocery stores can leave shoppers frazzled, making it difficult to choose products for their holiday meals with higher animal-welfare standards. Don’t worry! From your local market to the kitchen table, we have you covered. Check out these tips to ensure a happy and more humane holiday, and help keep your pets safe this Thanksgiving.

Make Welfare-Conscious Choices

Buy products that match your values. It can be difficult to make it out of stores in one piece during the holidays, never mind navigating the confusing labels found on animal-derived products! Not all labels are meaningful for animals, so if you plan to purchase meat, eggs or dairy this Thanksgiving, look for the certifications Certified Humane, Animal Welfare Approved and GAP (Levels 2+), which require third-party audits of farms and prohibit the worst forms of cruelty found on factory farms. Use a search engine like to cut through confusing marketing claims to find legitimately higher-welfare poultry products and plant-based alternatives at stores in your neighborhood.


Download the ASPCA’s Label Guide. Be armed with the facts this holiday! We’ve compiled some of the most common food labels and what they really mean for animals into this downloadable guide so you’ll be informed when you hit the grocery aisle.

Demand better. You have the power to demand more humanely raised products in your stores. This holiday season, you can impact which brands your grocery store carries. Let your grocery know that you want your choices to be certified to a higher standard by dropping off a supermarket request letter.

For more ways you can be a conscientious shopper this holiday and every day, visit ASPCA’s Making Welfare-Conscious Choices page.

Pet-Proof Your Kitchen

Turkey time. It’s best to stick to your pet’s regular diet during the holidays, but if you do decide to give your pooch a nibble of your Thanksgiving turkey, make sure it’s boneless and well-cooked—no raw or undercooked turkey, which may contain salmonella bacteria, or bones, which are choking hazards. Try stuffing their usual dinner with a few added tasty tidbits of turkey, vegetables (try sweet potato or green beans) and dribbles of gravy inside a food puzzle toy.

Mind the ingredients. While sage can be a delicious addition to your Thanksgiving stuffing, it and many other herbs contain essential oils and resins that can cause gastrointestinal upset and central nervous system depression in pets, especially cats. And be sure to keep desserts and other sweets out of paw’s reach.

Take out the trash. Throughout the day, be sure to empty your garbage more often than usual. Bones, chocolate and onions and other holiday fixtures are all hazards to pets.

Peace and quiet. With the commotion of a full house, your pets might enjoy some extra quiet space while company is visiting. Set aside a few blankets on the floor or leave open the door to a quiet room to give your pet another nook where he or she can sit back and relax.

Check out ASPCA’s full list of Thanksgiving Safety Tips for more ways to keep your pet safe this holiday.