You’ve probably seen a lot of posts on social media about all the dangers your dog can get into on Thanksgiving. It is certainly true that we see plenty of sick pets during the holidays, often because they ingested something that they shouldn’t. Removing corn cobs that are lodged in the intestine and treating cases of pancreatitis caused by ingesting too much fat are a common occurrence in most veterinary hospitals the week after Thanksgiving. But, if we’re honest with ourselves, many of us enjoy spending the holidays with our pets and we like to give them a bit of a treat while we indulge. If we aren’t the ones to slip some people food to our dogs, it may be a well meaning relative who thinks they should spoil their grand-dog. While we generally advise avoiding giving people food to dogs for any number of reasons like intestinal blockage, toxicity, and richness, we also worry about calories. If you compare the average number of calories a small dog ingests in a day to what we do, you can see why that big meal at thanksgiving can truly be diet busting for them.
With all of this talk about things we can’t give our dogs at Thanksgiving, you might be wondering “what can I give my dog on Thanksgiving”. We’ll give you a list of a few things that you can share with your pup to help them enjoy the holiday as much as you do, but we have to give a general veterinary disclaimer first: Remember, every dog is different and if yours is on a special diet or has a very sensitive stomach, it may be best to stick with their normal diet (see #4 below), and consult your veterinarian if you have questions.
What You Can Give Your Dog on Thanksgiving
1. Boneless, Skinless, Unseasoned, White Meat Baked Turkey
There are several parts of the turkey that can cause problems, but generally the more bland it is the better it is for your dog. You’ll want to avoid giving them the skin and bones, but white meat from a baked turkey is not going to upset their gastrointestinal tract. Remember that portion control is still important, so limit it to a few pieces.
There are certainly some vegetables, like onions, that we never give to pets, but others can be part of normal healthy diet. In fact, we commonly recommend green beans added to the diet in place of kibble if a pet is having a hard time keeping their weight down. On Thanksgiving, slipping your pet a couple green beans or carrots is perfectly ok. Additionally, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and corn (not on the cob) are also acceptable. Keep in mind that the more simply these vegetables are prepared, the better they will be for your dog. We would advise against giving them green beans covered in salt and cooked with bacon. Raw veggies are probably the best for dogs, but if you and your family prefer to steam or roast your vegetables, these can also be a healthy option.
3. Mashed Potatoes
Again, the recommendation to give mashed potatoes to dogs depends a lot on how they are prepared. If they are loaded with cream and butter, they will probably cause some GI upset, including a bit of diarrhea that you’d probably rather not deal with after celebrating the holiday. Plain mashed potatoes though, will, more than likely, not cause any problems.
4. Their Own Kibble
This one may seem like cheating, but your dog probably won’t care if they are getting their own kibble or normal treats, as long as they think they are part of the celebration. This is a common recommendation we have for people with family who can’t resist overdoing the treats, or who are struggling to keep their pet at a healthy weight. You can even decrease the kibble that they get the morning of Thanksgiving to moderate their caloric intake for the day. For those pets with food sensitivity or those on a diet trial, this is really the only option to maintain their health. Many families will understand the need to limit the treats when it is in the best interest of their four-legged relative, and giving them the option of rewarding your dog with a few kibbles may quell the need to cheat and slip them something behind your back.
When it comes to treating your pets on Thanksgiving remember to use moderation and portion control. Even with these healthy foods, many pets will have some issues if they over-indulge (just like most of us). Also remember that these foods can be prepared in very unhealthy ways so if you’re unsure of what a family member has put in the recipe, it is probably best to avoid giving it to your dog. Finally, if your dog gets something that doesn’t sit well with them, our doctors are here to help. You can schedule an appointment to see them by calling or texting us at (813) 749-6863, or by visiting website. We are proud to serve the pets of Westchase, Keystone, Oldsmar, Odessa, Citrus Park and the surrounding areas of Tampa.