or… How to Avoid the Turkey Trots for your Chow Hound

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and a full menu of fancy foods and tasty treats will be on display, LITERALLY ON DISPLAY.  When it comes to the Turkey Day meal, we know everyone has favorites, right? Mashed potatoes for Aunt Alice, stuffing for Sammy, Pumpkin Pie for Paul, Green Bean Casserole for… well, I’m sure it’s someone favorite. You know the one person in your house that doesn’t have a favorite? YOUR DOG… because they LOVE IT ALL! People foods smell and taste awesome to your four legged friends, but many can be harmful at some level and some can even be fatal if enough is ingested.

Normally, it’s not the occasional snack that will end up putting your dog in line at the Emergency Vet, it’s the gluttony that is a dogs appetite. Many believe this “need to feed” is directly linked to their ancestors. Dogs evolved from wolves and still carry a lot of their former selves instinctual behaviors. Wolves hunted and gouged when they had food, since they never knew when a fresh source of food would be available. Eating was a necessity more than a pleasure. Somewhere in the smallest Chihuahua flows the blood of that wolf, and in the back of that tiny brain there is a small doggy voice telling them to eat up because it might be awhile before they see their next meal… even though food is readily available and they eat every day.

A dog that eats non-stop could also have medical or emotional issues that are driving that tendency. It could be stress, if they are foster or shelter dogs it could be haunting memory of not having food on demand, they could have a nutrient deficiency, it could be that they like the attention that begging gets them, you could be feeding them several times a day but the food is lacking the balance and calories needed to fuel their inner machine. So don’t just think your doggy is a piggy, there could be underlying issue that dives the eating desires.

What Should My Dog Avoid in Foods?

Most of us are well versed in what human foods are out of bounds for hounds. We’ll go through the list again, just to be sure we’re all on the same page on what is bad for bow-wow’s.

  • Onions, Garlic, Chives (stuffing, maybe green bean casserole, often in gravies)

  • Grapes & Raisins (bread pudding has raisins, some stuffings have them too. Grapes are a finger food)

  • Nuts (bread pudding, sweet potato recipes, and lots of folks have bowls of mixed nuts out)

  • Milk & Dairy (mashed potatoes, puddings, creamed soups in recipes… milk hides out a lot of places)

  • Salt (salt is everywhere, some foods have much more than others)

  • Alcohol (dogs sneak snacks and drinks from plates and glasses left unattended)

  • Chocolate (all chocolates are bad for dogs. The darker the chocolate, the worse the effect)

  • Raw eggs (salmonella doesn’t know fur from flesh, raw eggs should not be consumed)

  • Bones (no bones about it… they are all choking hazards and can cause damage to the stomach)

  • Cranberry sauce (fresh cranberries are a-okay for your dog, however the sauce & loaf forms aren’t

  • Green Bean casserole (green beans alone, excellent. All all the other stuff, not good for Grover)

  • Turkey skin (think of what most people rub, baste, or season the skin with. It’s a poison pill)

  • Turkey meat (for the same reasons as the skin. People baste, inject or marinade with bad stuff)

  • Sage (this can upset your dogs tummy and bring on the loose poops)

  • Pumpkin pie (it’s not the pumpkin, it’s the spices. Dogs should avoid nutmeg & cinnamon)

  • Sweet potato pie or casserole (same reasons as pumpkin pie)

  • Ham (no good due to the high levels of sodium and preservatives in the meat)

We’ve all “sneaked a bite” or  two (or twelve) to our favorite fur kids during the Thanksgiving meal. Having a couple bites of any of the above is not a death sentence. Depending on the dog and their stomachs, anything could set off the explosive diarrhea… so less is always better. Not to mention the plain fact that with all the spices and fixings, people food tastes better than dry kibble or canned dog food.

The other thing to keep in mind is that a furry who has found or received a bite of stuffing that has onions, sage and garlic in the mix doesn’t mean your dog has one foot on the Rainbow Bridge. Don’t pack the family up for a trip to the Emergency Vet for any suspected food poisoning issue unless they’ve eaten a tremendous about of some bad item. Get your wits about you, take physical notes on what was digested, a good guess of how much, the dog current behavior, any signs of distress or odd behavior, an approximate time the food was eaten… THEN, and only then, CALL THE VET FIRST. Talk to a professional and let them help you form a plan for the pet. Running to the Pet ER is a huge expense to manage if it turns out your dog at a peanut and half a grape.

Well, What the Heck CAN they Eat on Thanksgiving?

You know you’ll want to treat them, or guests will want to feed the dog something from the plate, or there will be foods on the floor and on accessible surfaces. So let’s cover some of the items that are on the “Good Dog/Dog Good” list of foods.

  • Apples (Slices of apple are great. They are sweet and crunchy. However the core is not for Rover)

  • Breads (Bread dough is a NO. Baked breads are okay.. without seeds, nuts, raisins or spices)

  • Carrots & Celery (Raw carrots & celery are crunchy hits. Plus they see it come from your hands)

  • Cheese (unless your dog is lactose-intolerant, cheese is always a big win for a quick snack)

  • Corn (corn is sweet, it’s chewy, and it tastes good. But NO COBS… and plan on seeing the corn again)

  • Green beans (raw or cooked, most dogs LOVE greenie beanies. However, no spices or onions)

  • Rice (good old rice is a filling snack. However, same rules, no spices)

  • Pumpkin (raw pumpkin as a topper, or add on to their normal dry or wet food is a hit)

  • Turkey (didn’t we say this was a no? White meat, unseasoned, not fresh from the oven is okay in small quantities)

Any “safe” item can be used as a dry or wet food topper to enhance and stretch the meal. Plus, it adds a different flavor and texture to the everyday “same ol’, same ol” meal. Keep in mind that, unless you’re on a prescribed and monitored RAW diet, no uncooked meats.


Dog Proof your Home during the Holidays

As long as we’re in that Holiday mood, let’s quickly talk about the things to avoid or be aware of as you decorate your home for the season.  The following things are dangers to most house pets…

  • Holiday Plants

    When decking your halls, stay away from live Holly, Mistletoe, and Poinsettias. All are toxic and can cause diarrhea, and if a cat ingests enough of one it can be fatal (this almost NEVER happens because of the amount they would have to eat)

  • Rock Salt

    If you have outside animals, rock salt is a chemical danger to them. Rock salt left on their walkways can cause burns in their pads. If ingested, rock salt could cause vomiting, lethargy, dehydration or stomach problems, and kidney damage in extreme cases.

  • Ornaments

    Glass or hard plastic ornaments are a favorite for cats, but dogs love to chew. The danger of mouth injuries and glass in the stomach is always a possibility if you let your animals play with the bulbs that fall (or are taken) from the tree

  • Christmas Lights

    Regardless if they are strung on the tree with care, wrapped around your windows for a Holiday effect, or in a bush outside your door… there is electricity running through those strands of light. If your have a dog that chews, check your lights often to be sure they haven’t been having a midnight snack that could “light them up”

  • Tinsel, Ribbon, Garland

    All are potential choking hazards if chewed, and can become wrapped around the intestines if swallowed. That is NOT our idea of Christmas Cheer!

  • Firestarter Log

    Due to the chemicals in these logs, if your dog is a chewer, these can be harmful, if not fatal. Keep your logs in the yule, not where your ho, ho, hound can find and snack on them

  • Anti-Freeze

    Another warning to homes with outside animals… a leaky radiator, or overfill on the antifreeze, can be a killer. The color and smell of this liquid will attract animals and, since it won’t freeze, it is often licked as a source of water. Enough ingested will kill… so hose down overflows and spills, or douse with water to eliminate the threat

  • Candles

    As silly as this may seem, a lit candle is a curiosity. Having your cat on dog on fire, or your rug burning due to a playful pooch knocking a flaming candle down, will NOT bring on that Happy Holiday Feeling

Common sense needs to be part of your plan. Treat your pet as a child, a toddler in fact. Pet proof your home as if you had a toddler in the house or one was visiting. Nobody wants their Christmas ruined due to an avoidable accident.

That’s our rundown for keeping your dog safe from foods and home decorations this Christmas season. Again, almost everyone treats their pets with snacks during the Thanksgiving meal or Holiday gathering. It’s the times when the dog “free feeds” on bad things, or has accident access to those items on the list, that a call (or trip) to the vet becomes a necessity. Remember to take good notes on what they ate, how long ago and how much their might have eaten, their current symptoms, and then call before you go to the Emergency Vet.  Nobody wants your Thanksgiving meal to turn into a bad memory for you and your dog.

Since his is the last Dog Blog prior to the Thanksgiving Holiday, our FreddieSez team wants to wish everyone out there a happy, healthy, safe, fulfilling, and wonderful Thanksgiving. Be good to each other and, especially on this joyous Holiday, be pet Friendly. We’ll talk to you after the turkey is done, the football is watched, and the pets are napping… #FreddieSez!