Thanksgiving is one of the busiest days in the veterinary ER, which should surprise none of you. The very first Thanksgiving I had Emmett, he dug the turkey carcass out of the trash and settled down for a little leftovers. Luckily he left a disgusting trail of grease from the kitchen, across the living room and up the (carpeted) stairs so I managed to find him before he did too much damage, but Thanksgiving is a time of excess and gluttony for all of us, and for pets unaccustomed to the traditional rich foods of the holiday, it can lead to trouble.
Not to say you can’t give your pet some judiciously chosen Thanksgiving treats, as long as your pet is otherwise in good health. Choose wisely.
Foods to Avoid
1. Bones. Cooked poultry bones are exceptionally brittle and can easily splinter in your pet’s stomach, leading to a painful bellyache, a blockage, or even an emergency surgery.
2. Turkey skin. The fat is the problem here- most pets on commercial diets just aren’t accustomed to sudden high levels of fat in the GI system, which can lead to the pancreas essentially overreacting and the very painful, dangerous condition known as pancreatitis.
3. Cheeses and sausages. The same reasoning as above, with fat being the culprit. Keep that Hickory Farms gift box up high.
4. Alcohol. Not that I think any of you would actually do this, but yes, people try to get their pet drunk on purpose sometimes, and it’s not nice. Have you ever seen a hungover Yorkie? It’s awful. If you see your dopey uncle trying to give some microbrew to the family pet, you have my permission to pour the beer on his head.
5. Toxic foods. The following commonly used food items are specifically toxic to dogs and cats and shouldn’t be used in any food item they might ingest:
- macadamia nuts cause neurologic signs
- grapes and raisins cause renal disease
- onions and garlic cause anemia
- nutmeg causes neurologic signs
- sage can cause GI upset
- sugar free products containing xylitol– can cause life threatening hypoglycemia, even in small amounts.
Foods that Are Good to Share
There are plenty of things that your pet can enjoy with you on Thanksgiving. The number one key to remember is fat is not your friend. The best way to deal with this is to set aside a small portion for your pet before you toss in the butter, cheese, or whatever Miracle Whip concoction your Great Aunt Edna insists is vital for the perfect mashed potato. So assume all these items are butter and gravy-less.
- sweet potato
- turkey meat sans skin
- mashed potato
- steamed green beans
- stuffing (no onions)
- canned pumpkin (before you add in sugar and cream and turn it into a pie)
- butternut squash
- low sodium broth, which can be used in place of butter for a bit of flavor
The best thing to do is plan ahead, make sure your pet is full, and, um, in my case, get a covered trashcan. Make some pet-friendly treats ahead of time so that when you see Grandma plucking forkfuls of fat-laden cheeseball out to give to Sparky, you can cut her off and tell her, “Why not give him a nice Brody ball instead?”
Looking for some recipes?
Try the Pawcurean Turbacon.
Or a breakfast treat from Foxy Treats.
Are you planning on sharing Thanksgiving with the pets? Any favorite pet recipes or foods I forgot to mention?