For many Americans, the day after Thanksgiving should be called “Leftovers.” For many American pets, it should be called “GI Upset.” That's because too many pets will be fed too many leftover foods that will result in too many, er, potty breaks. To help your pet dodge the “Leftover Runs” or worse, avoid these eight things that can harm your pet this Thanksgiving.
Overindulging – If you must treat your pet, be a good pet parent and pace the meals and police the treats. You can bet your aunts and cousins are slipping your pets pastries and poultry whenever you’re not looking – be sure they know the rules. Only dish out small bites of plain, un-doctored turkey, sweet potatoes or carrots, or better yet, include your pets in the festivities by making them a vet-approved meal of their own or the Mini Thanks Muffins at the end of this post!
Bones – It’s tempting to toss that greasy bone to your pleading pooch. Resist. Don’t believe the myths that certain bones won’t splinter or cause problems. All bones can shatter teeth, lacerate mouths and become obstructed in intestines. Give your emergency vet a holiday break and safely dispose your feast’s skeletal remains in the garbage bin.
Trash – At the completion of every big Thanksgiving dinner is “The Purge.” Plates are scraped, bowls dumped and platters emptied into a trash bag. Be careful where you place that bulging bag; dogs and cats are notorious for breaking and entering. I see more “trashcan-itis” after holidays than anything else. In addition, trash can be deadly as pets can accidentally ingest string, wrappers and broken plastic and glass.
Booze – After Uncle Bob passes out in front of the football game, curious cats and snooping pooches are likely to investigate his forgotten booze. Even as little as an ounce of liquor can be deadly to cats and dogs. Lock up the liquor and never leave glasses used to serve alcohol accessible to pets.
Xylitol – Xylitol, a common additive in low-calorie foods, is deadly to dogs. Cats appear to tolerate xylitol, but I don’t recommend taking any chances. Check your food labels closely for any mention of xylitol, especially in candy, baked goods and gums.
Milk and Ice Cream – When you’re done with your ice cream, I know what you do: You allow your dog or cat to lick the bowl. That tiny amount probably won’t cause GI upset, but it could. Serious diarrhea can develop if you feed your pet too much ice cream or milk. In general, avoid dairy products unless you’re offering small amounts of plain yogurt for its potential health benefits.
Sweets and Chocolate – If you haven’t heard, don’t give your dog chocolate, especially dark or baking chocolates. What you may not know is that high-sugar sweets are also unhealthy for dogs and cats. Luckily, cats don’t have the same sweet receptors on their tongues so they typically decline desserts. Obesity, GI upset, pancreatitis and eventually diabetes are consequences of candies in pets.
Fatty, Breaded and Glazed Foods – Humans like to add fats and carbs to foods to amplify the flavors we favor. Turning up the taste also adds calories and raises the risks to our pets. If you’re going to share a protein with your dog or cat, keep it plain and simple. Fatty foods pack a punch to your pet’s pancreas and increase the chance of spending your holiday in the animal ER.
Thanksgiving should be a time to appreciate our blessings, not an eating contest. I encourage everyone to consider healthy and wholesome food choices for both their human and pet family. Lean proteins such as turkey and poultry, fresh green beans, broccoli, celery, sweet potatoes and pumpkin are excellent menu items for pets. Go easy on the portion sizes and your pet will exit Thanksgiving healthier than they entered. And someone remember to wake up Uncle Bob.
Here’s one of my favorite holiday treats for my dogs. Include your cats by serving a small slice of turkey as you’re prepping these wholesome poppers.
Mini Thanks Muffins
1 ½ cup cooked chopped lean turkey
1 small cooked sweet potato
1 medium-large egg (organic, free-range recommended)
½ cup cranberries
¼ cup water
½ cup ground oats
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
1 Tablespoon flax seed (optional)
¾ teaspoon spirulina (optional)
In a bowl, mash cooked sweet potato with water. Add egg and mix thoroughly. Combine the dry ingredients and add to the mixture. Stir in turkey and cranberries.
Spoon evenly into 24-count greased mini muffin tin and bake 20-25 minutes until firm. Cool completely, then serve. Store in refrigerator or freezer.
Approximately 31 calories per bite