Sharing Holiday Meals With Our Pets

By Dr. Jeannie Thomason, co-founder of the American Council of Animal Naturopathy

Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations are holidays meant for gathering around the dinner table with family and friends to share in your thanks for all that you have. For most pet owners, the dog and cat are valued members of the family and saying ‘no’ to their pleading eyes may be something you find hard to resist. We may even be tempted to share the family feast with our dogs in an offering of thanks and love. However …

cooked turkey meat (not the skin, cooked bones, gravy etc. ) can be a “treat” for dogs and cats to eat, please be aware that as true carnivores, it is NOT as easily digested by them as it by us.  Temperance or moderation is the word of the day, don’t get carried away – just feed a small amount as a treat.

Also, please be extremely cautious when discarding items used to cook the turkey which may be tempting to dogs and cats, such as skewers, string, pop-up timers, and roasting bags. Swallowing such things can cause an intestinal blockage or perforation.

Cooked turkey bones should never be fed to our carnivore companions. All COOKED bones splinter easily, and, whether splintered or whole, they can lodge inside or perforate a dog’s intestines. Be sure to place left over, cooked turkey bones and other garbage in cans with tight-fitting, dog-proof lids – outside and away from their noses.

Turkey skin is something dogs love to eat, but consuming cooked fatty food like poultry skin can lead to gastric distress and Pancreatitis, a serious inflammatory condition of the pancreas that causes vomiting and dehydration.  I don’t think I need to mention that gravy is just as bad if not worse to feed our dogs.

I know, I know, you tell yourself, it’s “just this once” or “just for the holiday.” Things can turn bad quickly and with the hustle and bustle of the holidays; you may not be as alert to the first symptoms, or may pass them off as just nerves, stress or having a little too much turkey or all the family at the home for the holiday.

Pancreatitis may occur only once in a dog’s life or it can become chronic, a condition that returns over and over again. It can quickly become fatal or just be a mild attack of pain that is over in a few hours or a day or so. However, it can cause serious side effects including shock, blood clotting disorders, heart arrythmias, and liver or kidney damage. So if your pet exhibits ANY of these signs, even if mild at first, get him to your veterinarian immediately! Of course with it being a holiday, many animal clinics may be closed – another VERY valid reason to not be so sharing with your pets this Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Instead of feeling guilty for not feeding them the holiday fare that you so much enjoy, why not give them their own RAW turkey leg and giblets.