Roast turkey, cornbread stuffing, gravy, green bean salad, sweet potato casserole (with marshmallows, of course), and apple pie! Thanksgiving dinner is such a divine meal to enjoy with family and friends and a time to give thanks for the important things in life. As we enjoy the celebration, it is important to be careful with how much food – and the types of foods – we share with our furry family members!
Sharing bits of food with our dogs and cats is fine – but not if everyone at the table is doing the same! Tell your guests to refrain from sharing their meal and instead prepare a special “plate” of food.
Some turkey is okay, but avoid giving your pets the dark meat or skin, and definitely not any bones. Dark meat and skin are fatty and can cause a gastrointestinal upset (vomiting or diarrhea) or pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). White meat (e.g. the turkey breast) is the best to share (especially if your pet is a little on the heavy side!). Bones are a worry. They can splinter, and puncture the esophagus, stomach, or intestines, or become lodged, causing choking or an intestinal blockage.
Vegetables are generally safe, but avoid sharing casseroles with fatty ingredients or dishes with onions, garlic, chives, or leeks. These “onion family” vegetables can be toxic. In large quantities they can cause red blood cell destruction and result in anemia. Cats and all Japanese dog breeds (e.g., Akita and Shiba Inu) are especially sensitive to the onion family vegetables. Safe vegetables to share include sweet potato (without the marshmallows of course!), broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, celery, and pumpkin.
If you use xylitol rather than sugar in your baking, do not share your baking with your dog. Xylitol is toxic to dogs, and even a small amount can be deadly. Xylitol causes a rapid drop in your dog’s blood sugar and can cause liver failure. Not only is xylitol a common “sweetener” in baked goods, it can be found in gum, candies, multi-vitamins, peanut butter, pudding, and toothpaste. If you have family or friends staying with you, make sure they keep their personal items out of reach of curious noses.
Never share chocolate treats with your pets. The darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is. If your pet consumes enough chocolate, abnormalities in heart rhythm, seizures, and even death can result.
Don’t let your pets consume foods or beverages that contain alcohol. Rum-soaked desserts can quickly cause alcohol poisoning. Never feed unbaked bread dough to your pets. Not only will the yeast produce alcohol, which can be rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and cause alcohol poisoning, but the dough can expand in your pet’s stomach and result in bloat. Your pets may try to share your guests’ beer or wine, so keep drinks out of reach.
Remember, moderation is key! If you feed your pet too much, and foods he isn’t used to, you may end up with a not-so-happy Thanksgiving. Have a Happy – and healthy – Thanksgiving!