Talking Turkey: Thanksgiving Dinner and Pets

Be careful when mixing Thanksgiving dinner and pets, as it could lead to pet pancreatitis

Thanksgiving is the holiday of gratitude and spending time pondering the things we are blessed with in our lives. Among the top of our list of things to be grateful for: our pets, of course!

With 70% of pet owners considering their pets to be family, we’re sure you’re including your pets in the holiday festivities. But should this include sharing in the holiday meal?

Feeding pets from your plate is more of a problem than you might think. In addition to adding more fat and calories than they need, fatty foods and an abrupt change in diet can cause any number of issues for our pets – including GI upset, foreign body obstruction, and a painful and potentially fatal condition called pancreatitis.

Here, Beverly HIlls Veterinary Associates explores what’s safe and what’s not safe about Thanksgiving dinner and pets.

Human Nature

It’s human nature to want to share the Thanksgiving meal with our best furry friends. So if you can’t resist sharing a bite or two with them, here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to feeding your pet at the Thanksgiving table.

Keep portions small – while it may be okay to give a little bit of certain foods, limit new foods to one or two items.

Watch what’s in the recipe – certain foods that are ingredients in Thanksgiving dishes – like onions and garlic – are toxic to pets. So if you are considering letting them have a bite, make absolutely sure that all ingredients are safe. Butter, salt, sugar and dairy should be avoided as well.

Keep leftovers out of reach – make sure counter surfers can’t reach foods they shouldn’t. Also, secure your garbage – or better yet, take out the trash right away to eliminate the chance of pets getting into something they shouldn’t.

Thanksgiving Dinner and Your Pet

Although some foods should absolutely be avoided when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner and pets, there are plenty of healthy and safe choices.

Turkey – turkey is often the main dish at the Thanksgiving table. If you wish to give your pet some of the bird, make sure it is a piece of skinless, boneless, white meat that is fully cooked to avoid fat, splintering bones, and salmonella.

Mashed potatoes – a small dollop of mashed potatoes may be safe, but be sure to leave out any salt, butter, sour cream or cheese when giving this to your pet.

Sweet potatoes – similar to mashed, a spoonful of mashed sweet potatoes can be a safe treat as long you don’t include syrup, sugar, butter, or marshmallows. A sugar substitute called Xylitol can be particularly toxic to dogs and should never be used.

Stuffing – stuffing, (or dressing) often contains ingredients that are poisonous to pets, such as garlic, onions, and raisins. Added fat from sausage and butter is also upsetting to a pet’s GI tract. Best to skip this side dish for your pet’s plate.

Cranberry sauce – most pets find cranberry sauce too tart to enjoy. Since it likely contains sugar and alcohol, don’t include this as a part of your pet’s Thanksgiving fare.

Green beans – now for some good news! Pets really enjoy cooked, plain vegetables as treats, and green beans can be good for them. Again, make sure to leave out the butter and salt before serving your pet.

Carrots – just like beans, cooked, bite sized carrots can be a healthy treat for pets that they love. Skip the sugary glaze, butter, and salt, though.

Gravy – you’ve probably gotten the gist, by now. Gravy is extremely high in fat, and unsafe to give to pets at the holidays or any time. If you want to put something over their kibble, try warm water or low sodium chicken broth.

Pumpkin pie – pies contain sugar, and the holiday variety often includes whipped cream, too. Pie is not the best choice for pets to indulge in, but a small spoonful of cooked, plain pumpkin can be a good treat. Keep in mind that veterinarians often recommend pumpkin to help with constipation, so it’s important to keep portions small, or you may get the opposite result!

Of course, the best way to treat your pet on Thanksgiving doesn’t even have to include food. Take your pet for a hike, toss the ball in the yard, or give them an extra snuggle on the couch. After all, a healthy and well pet is a wonderful thing to be thankful for.

If you have any questions about the Thanksgiving dinner and your pet, how to include your pet safely, or if you have concerns about your pet’s health, please call us. We’re here to help!