November 18, 2021 | Tips and Training
Most of the pet-centric information published this time of year is full of warnings about holiday hazards for dogs and cats. It’s kind of a shame, don’t you think, that so many things humans enjoy during the holiday season must be kept far away from furry family members?
This is especially true today, when so many of us are under the spell of the wonderful, mouth-watering aromas emanating from the kitchen as Thanksgiving dinner is being prepared. After a day surrounded by such delicious smells, by the time the meal is served, we can’t wait to dig in.
You may also have noticed that your furry companion has spent most of the day sniffing the air and hanging around the kitchen, ever hopeful a morsel of food might slip off the counter or out of someone’s hand.
The standard advice for pet guardians during the holiday season is to avoid feeding so-called table scraps. This is because traditional holiday dinners tend to be high-fat feasts that definitely aren’t suitable for pets. There’s also concern about ingredients in human food that can be toxic for pets. Plus, we don’t want to encourage begging behavior.
But with all that said, whether or not you share your Thanksgiving spread with your pet really depends on what the meal consists of and what ingredients are used. If you want to include your animal companion in the festivities, the obvious solution is to simply prepare pet-friendly dishes. For example, cooked turkey meat is fine for both dogs and cats. A few fresh cooked veggies such as plain (no flavorings or additives of any kind) green beans or yams are also fine.
Examples of Thanksgiving people food you definitely don’t want to give your pet include dressing (stuffing); dishes containing raisins or grapes; dishes containing onions, leeks or chives; bread, rolls, or butter; processed or sugary foods; and all desserts.
I also recommend blending a small portion of safe people food with your pet’s regular food and offering it at her usual mealtime rather than handing over treats from your plate at the table or in the kitchen during meal preparation or cleanup. Animals have very long memories when it comes to human gestures involving food, and just one tasty snack delivered from your hand to her mouth can turn a pet who never begged into a pet who makes begging her life’s work.
Most of these foods will be more popular with dogs than cats, but they’re safe for both. They should be served plain (no sugar, salt or spices, butter, or other additives), in moderation, and in small portions.
If you’re in the mood to prepare some special homemade treats for your animal companion over the holidays, be sure to request my free e-book Homemade Treats for Healthy Pets, which contains nutritious, easy-to-prepare recipes for both cats and dogs.