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Thanksgiving with Your Dog: Heed These Tips

Lisa Bast

Thanksgiving: Tips for Including Your Dog 

Thanksgiving - a tradition where we gather with family around the a table furnished with delectable dishes such as roasted turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy and pumpkin pie. To dog lovers, our pets are family. So shouldn't we treat them to a dab of mashed potatoes and dressing - or a slice of turkey?

Below are simple tips to heed this Thanksgiving and beyond.

Portion Control: Size Matters When Feeding Your Dog

Occasionally sneak a scrap of food to your pet? You're not alone - most people do at some point. But according to Dr. Alyssa Auer with the Uniontown Veterinary Clinic, your dog doesn't need much to feel included at the dinner table. A bit of turkey the size of a fingernail is enough. "A few tiny pieces of food goes a long way," emphasizes Dr. Auer.

Overfeeding your pet at Thanksgiving - or any other time - can result in gastrointestinal distress such as upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhea. You can avoid a costly trip to the veterinarian by using discretion when feeding your dog bites of "table food."

Not surprisingly, too much table scraps over time can promote obesity. According to the American Kennel Club, serious problems stemming from obesity can include:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Orthopedic problems, cranial cruciate ligament injuries
  • Skin diseases
  • Thyroid problems
  • Seizures
  • Heart and respiratory disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Some cancers
  • Decreased life expectancy (up to 2.5 years)

Remember, it's the size that matters. Don't over do it - resist the urge to dump the leftovers into your dog's bowl. Your best buddy will be healthier and live longer.

Choose Healthy, Leaner Foods

If you must share from the Thanksgiving buffet, a good rule to heed: healthy foods for you are generally healthy for your dog. According to Dr. Auer, these foods include:

  • bites of carrot or celery
  • a small portion of cranberries
  • grape tomatoes

We all know dogs savor meat so turkey is a natural choice - be sure to trim any fat and skin from the meat and share a very small amount of lean, bite-sized pieces.

Do not feed your dog:

  • pork or ham which is heavy with nitrates
  • cheese - some dogs are sensitive to dairy foods
  • turkey bones which can shatter easily and lodge in your dog's throat
  • mashed potatoes, dressing & gravy - all of which are calorie laden
  • chocolate
  • raisins
  • onions or foods containing onions or garlic
  • pistachios
  • avocados

As always, it's a good idea to collaborate with your dog's veterinarian to determine the best diet to ensure your pet's optimal health.

Not Your Dog? Ask Permission FIrst

What do if those soulful eyes pleading for a tasty treat don't belong to your furry family member? It's wise to seek permission first from the pet's owners before handing over that bit of dinner roll.

"Some dogs may have food sensitivities or are on a grain-free diet," says Dr. Auer. "If you don't know that pet's dietary requirements, avoid any potential problems by alerting the dog's owners. Nobody wants to be responsible for making someone's pet ill."

When in doubt, always ask. It shows respect for your host and concern for their furry family member.

Thankful for Bonding Time

Yes, Thanksgiving is centered around family togetherness, mouth-watering dishes and routing for your favorite football teams. But don't forget to take a moment to acknowledge your blessings, including your best buddy.

Forgo the leftovers - show your love and appreciation via daily walking time. Walking not only provides great exercise and helps maintain your dog's healthy weight, but also facilitates bonding. Your pet needs it - and so do you!

Before you head out the door, be sure to take your WoofPack dog walking accessory bag. You'll experience more enjoyable, hands-free dog walking time.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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