Each Thanksgiving, I cringe upon reading articles written by “pet experts” and veterinarians striving to convince pet owners to not share holiday foods for fear of creating illness in their canine or feline companions. This mindset reinforces the tendency for owners to solely rely on commercially-available, highly processed pet foods that differ vastly from the way food appears in nature. However, there are many foods served at Thanksgiving feasts that pet owners can and should share with their pets.
Yes, turkey is safe for both cats and dogs to eat. It’s a food source I often recommend for my patients, as it’s less commonly used in commercially available diets than other fowl like chicken. In my training of Chinese medicine food energy, it is believed that turkey is a cooling protein source for animals with an excess of Yang (heating) energy such as cancer, immune-mediated disease (allergies, “autoimmune” diseases) and infections (bacteria, yeast).
Of course, providing turkey to our pets in an appropriately-sized portion is key. Only offer small amounts of white turkey meat lacking skin, which is 38 calories per ounce. Never give turkey bones to your canine or feline companion, because the cooked bones can splinter, causing irritation to the stomach and intestines. Turkey bones can contribute to vomit, diarrhea, pancreatitis and other digestive tract problems.
Yes, cats and dogs can both have mashed or sweet potatoes. However, Thanksgiving potato dishes are often prepared with butter, cream, sugar, nuts, raisins or other additives that could cause digestive problems for your pet.
My top recommendation is to provide small volumes of cooked sweet potato without the skin or any additives. Sweet potato, boiled and without the skin contains 22 calories per ounce—medium-sized sweet potato is about 5.3 ounces—and is rich in fiber and antioxidants like beta carotene.Potato, boiled and without skin (i.e., white, Russet potato), contains more calories than sweet potato at 26 calories per ounce.
Cats and dogs can both enjoy small bits of bread rolls at Thanksgiving. Bread chunks can even be used to disguise medications or supplements, and make the process of administering such treatments more tolerable to the patient and owner. The bread itself should not be coated with butter, oil or spices. Even though your canine or feline companion can eat bread rolls, my top recommendation is to focus on vegetables or meat, instead of bread and other carbohydrates, when offering your pet Thanksgiving foods.
Yes, cats can eat corn kernels. But cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they must eat meat in order to thrive. Corn as a significant portion of a cat’s meal isn’t appropriate based on its biological needs. My suggestion is to give your cat only cooked corn, as raw corn can harbor bacteria, molds or parasites that could lead to health problems. I also recommend that no more than one tablespoon of kernels removed from the cob be given to your feline companion.
While dogs can eat corn, it is not safe to give them a whole ear of corn to chew. Chunks of corn on the cob could be ingested in larger-sized pieces than can be passed through the esophagus, stomach or small intestine. Cobs can cause a foreign-body obstruction requiring veterinary. Take the kernels off the cob before feeding any, in moderation, to your dog.less
Many cats and dogs eat canned or freshly cooked pumpkin as a fiber source as it can reduce colonic inflammation associated with diarrhea, help firm up soft stools and even provide greater stool bulk to benefit constipation. But pumpkin pie isn’t a dessert made exclusively of pure vegetable matter. It also has sugar, cream or milk, spices, flour, butter or lard. Other ingredients in the filling or crust could cause digestive tract upset in both cats and dogs, so even though pumpkin itself is good for your pet, pumpkin pie isn’t.
My top recommendation is to stick to the non-dessert form of pumpkin (canned or freshly cooked) when offering a Thanksgiving day treat to your canine or feline companion. Canned, unsalted pumpkin has 10 calories per ounce, contains nearly three grams of fiber per eight ounce (one cup) serving, and can help with canine and feline constipation and diarrhea.
Diana Ruth Davidson, Chief Pet Officer and Managing Nanny, Westside Dog Nanny
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