Q: “My mother feeds her dog Thanksgiving dinner. I thought human food was not good for pets? Is there anything that is safe I can let her give my dog when she visits this year?”
A: During the holiday season, we all tend to indulge a bit more as we enjoy the festivities and family fun. Our love for our furry family members makes it very tempting to include them in our gourmet feasts. Unfortunately, what is often a healthy tidbit for a human (or even a glutinous spread) can be quite harmful for pets. Not only can we see severe gastric upset and life threatening consequences but also weight gain and obesity can quickly occur.
While there can be some healthy human foods that are ok for Fido to share, let’s talk about a few of the common ones to AVOID first.
• Meat/Bones – yes, meat is a healthy protein source for our pets and should be a normal part of their kibble, however things like cooked turkey or ham will have flavoring and fats that can lead to a very upset tummy. Bones can cause painful cracked teeth or become lodged in intestines.
• Grapes/Raisins – often found in stuffing and desserts. These can cause severe kidney injury even in a very small amount.
• Onions/Garlic/Leeks – garlic was once thought to be beneficial but these foods can cause anemia and even organ damage. Most broths have an onion or garlic base and should not be given to pets.
• Alcohol – while we may have a drink or two to make family visits more bearable, alcohol can make for very sick animals and should never be given.
• Nuts – while some nut species such as Macadamia can be quite toxic, others can cause GI obstruction.
• Dairy – cats and dog are unable to digest dairy as humans are and milk, cheese and yogurt can lead to vomiting and diarrhea.
• Oil/Fat – any food high in fat or foods cooked in oil (commonly olive oil, coconut oil or lard) can cause severe pancreatitis. Pets with pancreatitis may need to be hospitalized and can be very ill.
• Chocolate/Artificial Sweeteners – it seems unfair that we should add, such a wonderful food group to the list of no-nos but, unfortunately, chocolate can cause neurologic disorders and heart arrhythmias.
If you really want to include your furry family members in the feasting fun try a few of these simple healthy treats. While these are not toxic, keep in mind that any pet may have a sensitivity to any food so always try in moderation.
• Carrots – raw or steamed (remember no butter, oil or salt).
• Apple Slices – avoid the seeds and stem.
• Corn – only a few kernels and NEVER give the cob to your pet (these commonly need surgical removal from the intestines).
If you have a rambunctious critter who happens to raid the dinner table or a relative who just can’t say “no,” watch your pet very closely for any vomiting or diarrhea. If they start with any problems make sure they are seen by their veterinarian right away. Some mild symptoms can become life threatening very quickly. Here at Newman Veterinary Center in Edgewater we see cases of pancreatitis and intestinal foreign bodies of bones and corn cobs much more often this time of year. Make sure you are prepared and know what is safe for your pet!
Dr. Tiffany Beischel is a local licensed veterinarian at Newman Veterinary Center who is happy to answer any questions you may have about your pets. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and check back each month to see if she answered you!