Thanksgiving is a time for reflection, for expressing gratitude for the love of our friends and family, and of course, for food. When it comes to our pets, food is one of the ways we express our love, meaning the temptation of sharing a holiday treat can be hard to resist, for us, for our house guests, and for a pet who is more than happy to pilfer a turkey leg from the table when no one’s looking.
For this reason, Thanksgiving can also mean extra visits to the veterinary emergency rooms, where sick dogs often find themselves and their pet parents after a little too much indulgence. To help prevent this unscheduled holiday diversion here is a prepared list of Thanksgiving Dos and Donts to help your pet stay happy and healthy this Thanksgiving:
Do: Have a plan
Unless your pet has a sensitive stomach or a diet that cannot tolerate change, there are plenty of holiday foods that are safe for your pet, with a little modification. Fats are they key ingredients that can cause pancreatitis and diarrhea, so foods should be free of added butter, oil, or gravy. Examples include lean turkey meat, green beans, or sweet potatoes. It is smart to put aside a small portion of each when preparing dinner, before the butter or onions are added And remember that onions are very toxic to our pets. Several years ago. my Bella ate an entire onion off of the counter while my back was turned. Off to Animerge! She spent the day meds to induce vomiting – then getting charcoal to stop the vomiting It started at 8 am and she came home at 8 pm. Not something that you want to do on a holiday.
Don’t: assume that ‘just this one time’ is ok for that cheesy onion gratin!
If you’re going to feed your pet human food, make sure it follows the guidelines above. Most pets who have eaten commercial foods their whole lives really can’t tolerate a huge sudden influx of high fat. At best, they can ruin your afternoon with bad gas, but at worst, they can develop life threatening pancreatitis from what seems like a small bite of butter drenched cheese.
Do: let your guests in on your plan
If you don’t let family know you have a treat already set aside for your pup, you may find your relatives sneaking the dog bites of sausage. It’s a hard temptation to resist over the holidays when we want to spoil the pets as well as ourselves. I show guests the bowl of carrots and apples they can give Bella as an appetizer, and provide a ceremonial plate and present Bella with her own holiday feast. If I forget and dont set aside food for her, I keep a can of special Thanksgiving themed dog food from Merrick for her special thanksgiving dinner.
Don’t: be afraid to set ground rules
If your pet has a history of pancreatitis or stomach problems, don’t be afraid to tell people very clearly that people food is strictly off limits. Sometimes people think a little rule bending is ok here and there- and often it is- but when your pet has a history of those problems, it’s very likely to happen again. Feel free to tell them how much the bill cost last time you had to go to the ER. Animerge is no fun on a holiday-or ever!
Do: Use a covered trashcan
I learned this one the hard way, unfortunately. Maybe you are OK if you have a small dog, but if you have a tall dog like my Bella, it’s amazing how far one can drag a turkey carcass.and leftover bones upstairs for a feast. My late husbands hunting dog choked on a Thanksgiving turkey thigh ( with bone) after my Dad gave it to her without our knowledge.
Don’t: forget to thank them too
Studies have shown the petting a dog or cat releases a flood of hormones that make both the human and the pet feel great. The dog or cat also benefits similarly from a loving scratch or brushing. Bella is extremely spoiled as my service dog. She gets rubbed and petted almost all day She loves to be loved and showed affection. Food isn’t the only way, or even the best way really, to show love.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM OUR HOUSE TO YOURS!