The whole family is gathered. Everyone is having a great time sitting at the table, eating and drinking and laughing. Then, out of the corner of your eye, you spot him: sitting just out of view, or maybe hunched under the table. He’s got those big, sad puppy eyes, and he keeps licking his lips and looking at you hopefully. It couldn’t hurt to give him a little bit of your meal. The holidays are all about sharing, after all. But wait! Before you prepare a plate for your pooch, remember that their digestive systems aren’t the same as ours. Things you wouldn’t even consider as dangerous foods can cause a real health risk to your dog! So what is and isn’t safe?
No: Onions, Scallions & Garlic, Nutmeg, Sage
Onions, scallions, and garlic are a seasoning in most foods, especially holiday staples like stuffing and mashed potatoes. But they’re not very good for pups! However delicious we might find them, they contain sulfides, which are very toxic to dogs. Nutmeg, found in popular desserts like pumpkin and apple pies, can cause central nervous system problems such as seizures. Sage is less dangerous, but can still give your dog quite the upset stomach.
Yes: Basil, Oregano, Rosemary, Parsley, Cinnamon & Turmeric
Not only do these herbs and spices give your meal that extra pizzazz, they may also put a skip in your pup’s step. Many of these are anti-inflammatory and/or antioxidants, as well as being high in various vitamins and minerals. You may want to look up their properties to see if they fit your dog’s needs, but when you’re seasoning that roast feel free to sprinkle a bit of these onto your dog’s kibble!
No: Wine & Beer (for people)
This one should be a no-brainer, but many people think that a single lap or two of wine and/or beer is harmless. Remember, though, that alcohol is technically poison and a dog’s digestive system isn’t as hardened to it as ours is. The mild symptoms we see with a healthy 150-pound adult human can and will quickly become lethal in your 50-pound canine companion.
Yes: Wine & Beer (for dogs)
If you really feel the need to share a Budweiser with Bud or a Cabernet with Coco, there are still options! There are, believe it or not, a handful of companies that make drinks for your furkids! Beers are generally more of a dog-safe soup broth, while the wines are made with peppermint and chamomile to help mellow your pup out.
No: Turkey Skin, Ham & Cooked Bones
Turkey skin sure is tasty! It seems like a safe treat for Fido, doesn’t it? But turkey skin retains all those juices that the turkey itself is cooked in, and remember that all that onion and garlic doesn’t sit well with pups. Furthermore, fatty foods like skin and ham can lead to pancreatitis. Cooked bones are pretty well-recognized as an unsafe treat for dogs. Not only are they a serious choking hazard, but further damage can be done after your dog’s managed to swallow it. The splinters can cut or tear the inside of a dog’s intestines, and larger pieces can cause a serious bowel obstruction.
Maybe: Raw, Meaty Bones
Did you know that, although cooked bones are out of the question, raw bones are generally safe for dogs? As long as it isn’t a mammal’s weight-bearing bone (leg bones from a pig or cow, for example), uncooked bones don’t splinter. The rule of thumb is generally making certain that the meaty bone is large enough that your dog cannot swallow the whole piece and must take their time to chew it – a turkey neck would be much too small for a Labrador, but would probably be fine for a Jack Russell. However, now may not be the right time to introduce raw to your pup’s meals if they’ve never had it before. Like any diet, raw diets take lots of research and acclimation.
Yes: Cooked Turkey Flesh
Turkey is a great meat for dogs! It’s lean and is a wonderful source of protein. Breast meat is especially best, as it doesn’t absorb as much of the flavor we previously mentioned that the skin retains. Be very cautious, however, of leaving the turkey carcass in reach of your dogs. It smells amazing and it can often make your dog second-guess their manners. No turkey? No problem! Lots of pet stores carry jerky for pups.
No: Chocolate, Dough & Batter, or Nuts
Everyone – even people who don’t have dogs – knows that chocolate is a dog’s kryptonite. The purer the chocolate, the more dangerous it is to your pup. But other dessert ingredients don’t make for very good dog snacks, either. Dough and batter can rise in your canine’s stomach, causing severe abdominal pain, bloating, and other intestinal issues. Nuts come with their own set of problems, and different kinds of nuts can cause different issues: upset stomach, liver failure, kidney failure, and even something called “walnut poisoning” that can cause mild to moderate neurological symptoms.
Yes: Cooked Sweet Potato & Pumpkin
Not only are the vitamins and antioxidants in sweet potato and pumpkin excellent for your dogs on a regular basis, you may want to keep some aside for post-Thanksgiving pick-me-ups! They are filled with fiber that helps even out both diarrhea and constipation in dogs. In fact, you can make your dog some delicious sweet potato chews right alongside your slow-roasted turkey: cut your sweet potato in slices 1/3″ thick and bake them for about three hours at 250 degrees. Also, keep in mind that if you buy canned pumpkin for your pooch, it should be 100% pure pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling.
With the extra hubbub of visitors your dog may or may not have seen in a long time and the air filled with delicious scents, it can be hard for your pup to remember how to behave. Other items like toothpicks from appetizers and left-over corn cobs are items that are both enticing and extremely dangerous for dogs. Above all, as with many things in life, moderation is key! If it’s more than a snack-size treat, it’s probably too much.
The holidays are an awesome time to bring family together. But your dogs are family, too. So remember that they’re depending on you to keep their best interest at heart!