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— November 26, 2013 —

Turkey Day Delights.
by Daniel McElroy Jr.

The Holiday edition. When you are enjoying your holiday meals, please know that there are certain tasty treats that you SHOULDN’T give your dog.

Every year folks ask me about the things they can give their dog to eat during the holidays. After all, Thanksgiving Christmas and Chanukah celebrations as well as many other celebrations this time of year revolve around food. When we are enjoying all the festivities, it’s only natural to want to share the feast with your best friend.

It’s important to realize that not everything that is delicious and nutritious for us is safe for our dogs. In fact, some of the food we eat without a second thought may be downright dangerous to our dogs. Some of the things that we can eat are toxic enough to make our dogs sick, even toxic enough to be fatal.

Almost everyone knows that dark chocolate is a no-no for dogs, but did you know that grapes can be fatal? It seems that not all dogs will react to grapes, but there have been cases of fatal kidney damage after dogs have ingested grapes. This holds true of any grape product, raisins, wine and so on.

The list of dangerous items that you may be eating this holiday season is long and may be somewhat surprising. It includes (but is not limited to) grapes, onions, garlic, chocolate, macadamia nuts, and avocados. Sugar free sweets such as gum and hard candies pose a very serious problem. These often contain the food additive Xylitol. Xylitol is highly toxic to dogs and can be lethal in very small doses.

Fatty foods and spicy foods also pose a danger as too much fat or pepper can cause pancreatitis in dogs. Pancreatitis is something you want to avoid. Although it can come on idiopathically (without known cause), there’s no reason to increase the risk by feeding fatty or spicy foods.

Something most people don’t think about is the relative size of your dog to the portion you choose to feed. While a small bit of turkey skin isn’t much to my 100 lb Rottweiler, that same piece of skin can represent a huge fat intake to a 15 lb dog. A little bit of mashed potatoes with gravy to you may be three days worth of calories to your small dog. All of this needs to be taken into account when you decide to give your dog a little “holiday treat.”

This is not to say that you can’t give your dog anything special during the holiday season. If your dog isn’t particularly sensitive to new foods, a small portion of lean meat makes a fine treat. (I just recommend that he get the treat in his normal bowl, so he doesn’t start to beg at the table.) Many vegetables are fine for your dogs as well. I give my dogs green beans and carrots and they always seem to enjoy it.

This article isn’t intended to make you aware of ALL the things you shouldn’t feed your dog this holiday season. I just want to make people aware of risks and encourage you to only feed items you know are safe. When it comes to giving my dogs different food items, my motto is, “If in doubt, leave it out.”

If your dog does happen to get into something and get a little gastric upset, canned pumpkin mixed in with a bland diet of beef and cooked rice helps to settle the gut tremendously. Don’t get pie filling with the spices. Plain old pumpkin does the trick. Of course this is not meant to be used if your dog gets ahold of the dangerous stuff mentioned above. If that is the case, a visit to your vet may be in order.

So, as much as you think Fido just can’t live without his own Thanksgiving plate, with all the “fixins” please do both of you a favor and only give things that you know are safe and healthy.

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