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When we stop to think of what we are truly grateful for during Thanksgiving and the holiday season, our dogs' undying love and devotion is generally at the top of the list. Including Penny and Kiki in my family’s celebrations is an important and fun tradition in my home year after year. Having some safe and delicious treats that we can all share at the dinner table is something I like to plan ahead for.  Because having a wet, needy nose in my lap isn't the way I want to spend my holiday, I like to have designated Thanksgiving platters that my pups can enjoy. Preparing your pet’s plates ahead of time and feeding them separately, will not only keep your festive attire slobber free, it will also keep them safe from harmful foods that can leave their tummies upset or worse. Because as you may or may not know, not every food we eat during Thanksgiving is safe for your pup!

Safe and healthy Thanksgiving food for your pup:

Sweet potato (and potatoes)

dog eating potato

Sweet potatoes are a great source of dietary fiber. Keep the preparation simple, either bake or steam them with no added ingredients. Dogs shouldn’t have butter, spices, or the marshmallows that we humans typically add.

If regular potatoes are on your menu, the same rules apply. Make sure to give only boiled or baked potatoes with no butter, sour cream, salt, or pepper, and always serve in moderation.

Apples

dogs with apples, can dogs eat apples

Apples are full of vitamins A and C and contain lots of great fiber, making them a healthy treat. Be careful to cut around the core, as large amounts of apple seeds can be toxic. Save the apple pie for the humans though; dogs do much better with the fresh kind.

Turkey

dogs on thanksgiving, turkey for dogs

What about the main event? The answer is YES, minus the skin and bones. The healthiest cut is the white meat that is towards the center of the turkey, away from the seasonings.  

Green beans

Green beans are super healthy and contain plant fiber, manganese, and vitamins C and K. Plain green beans are great for dogs, so before you saute them in butter sauce and cover them with garlic, set a portion of simply steamed beans aside for your pup, (and your super fit cousin).

Carrots

dog with carrots

While you’re preparing the Thanksgiving stuffing, slip your furry friend some spare carrots which are low in calories and full of nutrients and vitamins and can even have benefits for oral health. Cut into bite-size pieces to make them easier to digest and to prevent choking.

Pumpkin

dog eating pumpkin

Pumpkin is a very healthy snack that aids in digestive health and is great for a dog’s skin and coat. Pumpkin is even used to treat stomach problems in pups. Make sure to set aside some canned, organic, plain, pureed pumpkin, before making your holiday pumpkin pie.

Dessert

If your dog has a sweet tooth, turn your pumpkin pie ingredients into a holiday Puppuccino.  Combine some whip cream, a dollop of plain greek yogurt, canned pumpkin puree and a sprinkle of cinnamon for a delicious and safe dessert dogs will love. 


Thanksgiving dishes that are unhealthy or toxic for your dog:

dog eating bones

NOOOOO BONES!

Stuffing

Thanksgiving stuffing is usually full of onions, scallions, leeks or garlic. These ingredients are extremely toxic to dogs and can cause anemia (destruction of the red blood cells). This traditional dish is best left for the humans.

Ham

Ham and other pork products can cause pancreatitis, upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhea.  So no matter how much they beg, the answer is still no.

Turkey bones

dog with turkey

Bones can cause severe indigestion, vomiting and bowel obstruction. Bones can also splinter and cause damage or even puncture the inside of the stomach. Make sure to let all of your guests know,  so they don’t slip something under the table by accident!

Mashed potatoes

While plain potatoes are safe for pups, mashed potatoes are not!  They are usually full of butter, salt and milk, which can cause diarrhea. Even worse, some recipes call for onion powder or garlic, both of which are toxic to dogs.

Salads with grapes and/or raisins

dog with grapes

Lots of Thanksgiving sides and salads have grapes or raisins.  Both can cause severe and sometimes fatal kidney failure in dogs. It's hard to believe, but important to know, that such innocent snacks for humans can be so toxic to our pets.

Chocolate

chocolate for dogs

Most people know about the danger of Chocolate for dogs. Chocolate is extremely toxic, the darker the more harmful.  However, the smell of chocolate is extremely tempting to pups, so be sure to keep your dessert in a place that they can't reach.

The best way to make sure that everyone enjoys their holiday, is to plan ahead with food that is safe and delicious dishes for your pup. If your dog does have anything that makes them sick, be sure to see a veterinarian as quickly as possible.  Acting quickly can be a life saver in these situations.  

EXPERT ADVICE 

We reached out to Michelle Dulake, DVM, FERA PET CEO Veterinarian Fera Pet Organics for some expert advice and here is what he had to say. 

Keep food out of reach 

Thanksgiving feasts can be filled with all different types of food, but most should be kept away from dogs and cats. Turkey skin and fatty foods can cause pancreatitis. Raisins/grapes/onions/chocolate are poisonous to pets. Artificial sweetener xylitol commonly used in gum and sugar-free baked goods can be deadly if consumed by dogs or cats. Dough can cause gas and bloating. Bones and ties on the meat can cause damage to the intestines that could be life threatening. If there are any of these foods around, please make sure to put your furry friend in another room to avoid these dangerous foods.

Help your pet feel safe

With all the friends and family that enter your home during the holidays, it can be very stressful for a pet with new people and loud noises. If your pet is on the nervous side, it may be beneficial for them to be put in another room with white noise and some of their favorite toys and treats. You may also want to try calming supplements and consult your veterinarian regarding prescription medications for the severely anxious pets. 

Make sure your pet has ID tags and microchip

Pets can easily run out of open doors and gates if you are hosting and letting people come in and out freely. Make sure your pet has proper ID tags with your current information and registered microchip. 

What to do if your pet is choking

  • Signs of choking: gagging, coughing, salivation, pawing at the mouth, gums/tongue turning blue (cyanosis), distress

  • You will need 2 people for this step. One person should restrain the pet and open their mouth wide, while the other tries to remove the object with their fingers. 

  • If you are not able to remove the object, you can try the heimlich maneuver

  • If you are still not able to remove the object, take your pet to the closest veterinary hospital, starting CPR at 120 chest compressions per minute if needed.

 What to do if your pet eats chocolate

  • For any toxin ingestion, I always recommend calling the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC). It is your best resource for any animal poison-related emergency, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you think your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, call (888) 426-4435. A consultation fee may apply.

  • Chocolate/ Coffee/ and Caffeine - These products all contain substances called methylxanthines, which are found in cacao seeds, the fruit of the plant used to make coffee, and in the nuts of an extract used in some sodas. When ingested by pets, methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death. Note that darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate. White chocolate has the lowest level of methylxanthines, while baking chocolate contains the highest. https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/people-foods-avoid-feeding-your-pets

  • Call APCC or your veterinarian and let them know the type of chocolate and how many oz was ingested. If you are unsure of the amount, your veterinarian may recommend bringing your pet in to initiate vomiting (emesis) to ensure all the chocolate is removed and administer activated charcoal to prevent absorption of theobromine into the body. They may also give IV or SQ fluids to help hydrate your furry friend and promote theobromine excretion.

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