The aroma of freshly baked bread, pumpkin and pecan pies, roast turkey, ham, stuffing, and all the delicious veggies and sides has all the family drooling and counting down the clock to dinner time, right? Well, look down and a little to the left. You’ll likely see your loyal canine companion staring at you with wide soulful eyes and a dangling tongue -- ever hopeful for a fallin’ morsel.
We’re often tempted to give our pups people food because food is one way we show friends and family that we love them, and that practice can spill over to our pets, too. Especially around Thanksgiving and Christmas when times are filled with celebration and gift-giving. Or, perhaps, if we happen to be alone for the holiday, it’s tempting to fix the dog a plate so we can share the occasion with our best friend. But should we?
Overall, no. It’s just simpler and safer not the feed them “people” food. However, with knowledge and planning, we can show our love via a human food treat. So, sometimes, yes.
In general, we should not give our dogs people food. I mean, let’s face it, we shouldn’t even be eating half of what we eat due to the preservatives, cooking processes, chemicals, etc. If it’s bad for us (hello, fast food, sugary treats, and transfats), then it’s definitely bad for our pups.
But even healthy or not-so-bad-for-us foods can also be poor or toxic choices for our dogs. The way their systems digest, break down foods and assimilate nutrition is different from ours, so even whole foods like onions, garlic, and grapes can be harmful. Onions, for instance, are actually toxic to dogs and can make them anemic by breaking down their red blood cells.
Thanksgiving foods often have lots of spices, seasonings, butter, and/or sugar in them. All of which should be avoided. So many food items are now sugar-free. That’s better right? No. Dogs should not have any sugar substitutes, especially xylitol.
According to the American Kennel Club, veterinarians see an increase in vet visits over the Thanksgiving holidays.
Here is their list of unsafe and unhealthy foods to avoid:
Turkey bones, skin, and gravy
Chocolate, cookies, pies, and sweets (especially anything containing xylitol)
Raisins and grapes
Onions, scallions, and garlic
Foods containing spices
Still want to include the pup in the festivities with yummy, safe foods? It’s possible!
Here are foods that are deemed safe and healthy when fed in moderation, also courtesy of the AKC.
Sweet potatoes - they are a great source of dietary fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and beta-carotene. Just make sure they are plain sweet taters! These are more healthy than the standard potato below.
Potatoes - only give them plain boiled or baked potatoes.
Apples - they are full of vitamins C and A and also contain great fiber but be sure to remove any core as the seeds themselves can be poisonous in large amounts.
Turkey meat with NO bones or skin - plain turkey is okay for your beloved pup.
Green beans - these babies have fiber and vitamins and, when unseasoned and unbuttered, can be a nice treat for your dog.
Peas - similar to beans. Make sure they’re plain.
Pumpkin - the orange goodness is quite healthy for our pups as it helps with the digestive tract and skin/coat. Canned is fine. Just be sure that any pumpkin is completely plain. No seasonings, dairy, or sugar.
The overall theme of giving your dog any safe human foods is ensuring it is a pure, whole food that has not been altered with seasonings, flavors, or fat.
We certainly don’t want to create little food monsters, though!
If you feed them any safe “human” foods, do not feed them from your dinner table or even the kitchen counter. Rather, inconspicuously and calmly fix them a treat and then take it to their normal food dish. Place it into their designated food dish and then let them know it’s there.