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Making a Dinner Plate for Your Pet

By: Virginia Wells

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Roast turkey and stuffing, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes and giblet gravy, cranberry relish ... oh, and pumpkin pie with whipped cream. This is just a partial list of typical Thanksgiving fare, and it's enough to start most mouths watering.

Thanksgiving is all about abundance and sharing. But if you're thinking of sharing your feast with your pet, think again. This special meal is full of Thanksgiving taboos that can harm your dog or your cat. And nothing can take the life out of your celebration like an unexpected trip to the closest veterinary emergency treatment center.

Cats and dogs are creatures of habit and do not really need much variety in their diet. In fact dietary changes frequently lead to loose stools and other digestive problems. So before you add that extra turkey and giblet gravy to your pet's dish, consider some holiday banquet boo boos.

Things to Keep Off Your Pet's Plate

  • Bones. Bones are not as healthy as you may think and may cause some serious problems. Even well cooked, baked or stewed bones are dangerous. They can also be a choking hazard and can cause possible intestinal bleeding if the bone shards break off and tear the intestinal lining. If you really must give your dog a bone, give one that has been designed for dogs to chew on, like Nylabones©, which tend to be relatively indestructible and are often flavored.

  • Rich and fatty foods. These typically include the giblets, dark meat turkey and turkey skin, potatoes and butter-coated vegetables, gravy and stuffing. Too much fat can result in pancreatitis, which is a potentially life threatening condition.

    Pancreatitis occurs when the dog is trying to digest a very fatty meal. During digestion, the pancreas produces enzymes to assist in the digestive process, but with pancreatitis, too many enzymes are produced; as a result the pancreas becomes inflamed and can even begin digesting itself. The symptoms are vomiting and diarrhea, usually bloody. Your dog can become dehydrated and die.

  • Sweets. Forget the pumpkin pie, sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows, and after dinner mints. Also on the list are chocolate, which can be poisonous to your pet, eggnog, alcohol and nuts. All of these can cause stomach pain and diarrhea.

  • Spicy foods. Many pets suffer upset stomachs caused by spicy foods, so hold off on the spicy sauces and dressings. Various types of onions, too, can be toxic in varying amounts.

    Your Pet Can Go Gobble, Gobble

    We all know we shouldn't feed table food to our pets, but it is awfully difficult to keep from sharing, especially when the meal is as special as Thanksgiving. There are a few things you can add to your pet's dinner that won't cause any harm.

  • White meat turkey or chicken. These are okay, as long as you don't give too much. A small piece cut up and mixed with his food or given separately will be a real treat for your dog or cat.

  • Cooked vegetables. Dogs are omnivores and they especially like vegetables, but serve without the butter and salt. Cats may not be interested.

  • Turkey broth. Try cooking the giblets in water to make a tasty turkey broth that you can use to moisten your pet's food. By the way, you can use canned broth, too.

    So during the holidays, if you choose to share with your pet, the best advice is to use common sense. Stick to foods you know won't cause your pet any distress. Do not feed from the table – save the treats for after the meal. And don't forget to add a little special attention or play time for the best treat of all.

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