For the love of your pet: Take care when sharing your Thanksgiving meal with your pet

Nov. 17, 2011 at 5:17 a.m.

By John Beck

Thanksgiving is only four days away and our house is busy getting ready for the gathering of relatives and one big, amazing meal. What, if anything, is appropriate to allow my dog to eat from our Thanksgiving spread?

A lot of people are doing the exact same thing, filling their house full of groceries in the anticipation of a huge feast and a lot of friends and family.

We are thankful for many things this year and most pet owners want to make sure that their pets are included in that list of things. There are many items that are commonly made for a traditional Thanksgiving Day meal that can be shared with your dog. Unfortunately, there are also many no-no's on that table top, too.

If you are preparing a turkey or ham, your dog is more than welcome to have a lean cut of the meat. You should avoid any fatty or skin-only portions. Contrary to popular belief, the scraps and bones are not for the dog.

Many raw or simply cooked vegetables are appropriate treats for your dog. Potatoes, yams, green beans, canned pumpkin (pumpkin puree-not pumpkin pie mix), apples, unbuttered toast/bread. Items that should be avoided include all the above vegetables/fruits after any cream, milk, butter and etc. is added to them.

Also, avoid mushrooms, grapes, raisins/cranberries, croutons, onions, uncooked bread and sweets. A good train of thought is the more simple the food (no additives, seasoning, fats), the better.

If your dog has any pre-existing conditions, like diabetes or gastric complications, you should avoid treating your pet with human food. Also, you might ask your veterinarian if your pet is on a prescription or special diet. You would hate to ruin any progress your dog has made by giving in to those begging eyes.

There are other treat options for pets that shouldn't have any human foods. Take your pet's current diet and make it a little different. If your pet's current dog food comes canned, you can offer them that version for a change in pace. Or, canned food can also be shaped into balls or other shapes and chilled in the refrigerator or baked in the oven. You might consider keeping a bowl of regular dog treats around for you and your guests to give your dog. This will help deter the need to feed them the human food that is being prepared.

If you or your guests do offer some of your Thanksgiving meal to your dog, remember to keep everything in moderation. A small treat can go a long way for a dog. If you over do it, with even the foods in the "safe" list, you can run into problems. Changes in diets for dogs that come about abruptly can cause diarrhea and vomiting at the very least. If you incorporate an elevated amount of fat in that food change, you could also run the chance of gastric ulcers, colitis or pancreatitis. All of these things will require moderate to major veterinary care.

Dr. John Beck has a veterinary practice at Hillcrest Animal Hospital in Victoria. Submit questions to Dr. Beck at



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