Keeping Fido Safe through the Thanksgiving Meal

Animal Theatres
Animal Theatres

DENISE FLECK is an award-winning author & radio show host and animal care instructor who developed the curriculum for her Pet First-Aid & CPCR Classes after training with dozens of schools and organizations, practicing, attending seminars and practicing some more.
Check out my website at:
Pet Safety Crusader.com

Animal TheatresKeeping Fido Safe through the Thanksgiving Meal

By Denise Fleck, The Pet Safety Crusader™

As company arrives, give them a few kindly worded rules to keep your pets safe.  Remind them to please shut screen doors and make sure gates are properly latched as they come and go so that pets can’t escape during holiday festivities.  Ask company to close their guest room door or at the least…zip those suitcases for the array of scents could lead Fido to investigate and ingest medications, gum or candy containing canine-deadly xylitol or other hazardous items.  To keep them sane, arrange a time-out or two for your pets in a quiet room away from all the noise and stress but do not forget to keep them on their routine with meals, potty breaks, and exercise!

As you sit down to the holiday meal, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • TURKEY

Baking Strings that help you lift the bird out of the pan or the mesh that sometimes wraps rolled meats will be soaked with the cooking juices and oh so tempting to our pets.  Once out of the oven, make sure these strings are safely buried in the bottom of a closed garbage can, because if ingested by your pet, they could lead to severe intestinal blockages and pain.

Bones dry out during cooking and splinter or crack when chewed (or swallowed whole) by your dog or cat leading to painful slivers in their intestines resulting in punctures and perforations. Make sure they are totally and completely out of paws reach – no exceptions!

Skin is also a no-no as it is too fatty for animals to properly metabolize and may pose an additional hazard if seasoned with onions, chives, garlic, leeks or scallions. While small, well-cooked portions of allium-containing foods may be okay, ingesting large quantities can lead to toxic anemia!  Additionally, the turkey skin is most probably loaded with butter or other oils adding to its fat content.

Skinless, boneless white meat turkey?  Awesome, but in moderation.  Most humans feed pets the fatty, gristly portions off their plate.  In the wild, a dog/wolf can absolutely consume a bird – bones, gristle, fat and all, but that bird is not cooked.  Our pets cannot properly metabolize cooked fats which become grease under high temperatures, and your dog or cat could end up with pancreatitis – an inflamed major organ of the body and an Intensive Care situation! 

  • SAUCES & STUFFING

Cranberries may aid in urinary health but take note of sugars and other ingredients.  If you are cooking from scratch, leave a small un-sweetened portion of cranberries available for your pets that along with white meat boneless turkey and sugar-free un-buttered sweet potatoes, could be placed in a Kong-like toy for a time-out treat!

Raisins and grapes, however, look like cranberries when cooked but can be potentially deadly to dogs and cats resulting in acute renal failure, be sure of what is in the stuffing, sauces and gravies before sharing with your furry family members.  .

Nuts too lie hidden in other dishes and ones such as walnuts and macadamia may cause stomach upsets and even paralysis. 

As for the gravy…a little can go a long way!  Dilute a teaspoon or tablespoon (depending on the size of your pet) with a little water to dribble over kibble. Don’t feel compelled to ladle it on.  Dogs have an amazing sense of smell and can detect a spoonful of sugar in an Olympic-sized swimming pool of water, so they’ll know it’s there and be thankful for just a little.  Remember gravy contains drippings (including fat) from the turkey as well as salt which can cause heart problems in our pets.

  • BREAD DOUGH

Bread doughs rise into rolls and Challahs through a combination of heat and active yeast.  If an animal consumes raw dough, the yeast continues to convert the sugars in the dough into carbon dioxide gas and alcohol which can result in painful bloating and drunken effects amplified, but like what could happen to a human who overdoses.  This could become a life-threatening emergency requiring hospitalization!  As a reminder, wheat and other processed grains are often a source of allergies in our dogs and cats, so should be fed in minimal quantities even when fully baked

  • SWEET POTATOES & PUMPKIN PIE

A little sweet potato is A OKAY for most pets, rich in B vitamins, potassium and carotenoids.  You may even find yummy, dehydrated treats made especially for Fido in stores or online.  Potatoes however are starchy, and when prepared for the Thanksgiving table, generally come loaded with sugar, possibly nuts and other ingredients which may result in Rover not feeling his best or packing on unnecessary poundage.  As with everything you feed your cat or dog, read labels and pay attention to those added, often hidden, ingredients to keep him his healthiest.

Who can resist a small (we’re talking teaspoon to tablespoon size) piece of pie?!  Let your pets celebrate too but watch the sugar and butter content (especially in the crust).

  • ALCOHOL & CAFFEINE

Alcohol affects pets much in the same way it affects humans (nausea, dizziness, disorientation, unconsciousness and even death).  Most pets have less body weight than us humans, so the effects of what they consume are amplified.  There is NO safe amount of alcohol for pets!  Alcohol poisoning can occur in some animals from just a couple licks of your drink, and keep in mind that alcohol poisoning can occur in pets from atypical items like fruit cake and rum balls as well as unbaked bread mentioned above. 

  • SAFE ALTERNATIVES

Leave a small bowl of “approved” dog or cat treats (see below) in reach of human guests so they aren’t tempted to feed pets from their own plates. It’s a great way for them to make friends with the family cat or dog.

Feed pets at the same time humans consume their big meal, but in another room or using a food dispenser toy to keep them occupied. Mentioned before, filling one of these toys with unbuttered, unsweetened cranberries and sweet potato (or even mashed white potatoes) and skinless, boneless turkey chunks can be an amazing feast. 

Many companies offer meals made to mimic the holiday feast, just don’t suddenly change brands on your pet or you may have upset tummies to deal with.

Here is one of my dogs’ all-time favorite treats!  Make up a batch and have them ready for guests to offer your furry best friend…

HAIKU & BONSAI’S PUMPKIN CARROT TREATS
2 cups brown rice flour
½ cup oatmeal 1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup unsweetened plain applesauce
1/4 flour for rolling

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 cup grated carrots

½ cup unsweetened plain applesauce, OR

¼ cup molasses

¼ flour for rolling

Step 1 – Blend until smooth carrots, applesauce & pumpkin 

Step 2 – Mix together rice flour & oatmeal, then add wet ingredients

Step 3 – Place dough and a floured breadboard and roll out to 1/4″ thickness

Step 4 – Use bone, fish or other shaped cookie cutters to cut out cookies.

NOTE: If you prefer, you can roll into small balls and flatten with your dampened thumb.

Step 5 – Place cookies on a greased cookie sheet (or use parchment paper) and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 7 minutes. Flip over and bake 5 minutes more.

Cool thoroughly before offering to your best friend.

Making your pet “sit” first is a polite way for your pet to say “please.”

These morsels are packed with Vitamins A, C, Magnesium, Potassium & Zinc as well as carotenoids which fight off free radicals. Diuretic properties and fiber may aid in pushing hairballs through, naturally expressing anal glands and flushing toxins from your pet’s system. Anti-inflammatory properties can help alleviate painful joints if consumed regularly.

Step 1 – Blend until smooth carrots, applesauce & pumpkin
Step 2 – Mix together rice flour & oatmeal, then add wet ingredients
Step 3 – Place dough and a floured breadboard and roll out to 1/4″ thickness
Step 4 – Use bone, fish or other shaped cookie cutters to cut out cookies.

NOTE: If you prefer, you can make small drop biscuits by just dropping a teaspoon of batter onto cookie sheet and then flattened with your dampened thumb.

Step 5 – Place cookies on a greased cookie sheet (or use parchment paper) and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 7 minutes. Flip over, and bake 5 minutes more.

Cool thoroughly before offering to your best friend. Making your pet “sit” first is a polite way for your pet to say “please.”

These morsels are packed with Vitamins A, C, Magnesium, Potassium & Zinc as well as carotenoids which fight off free-radicals. Dieuretic properties and fiber may aid in pushing hairballs through, naturally expressing anal glands and flushing toxins from your pet’s system. Anti-inflammatory properties can help alleviate painful joints if consumed regularly.

1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup unsweetened plain applesauce
1/4 flour for rolling

Step 1 – Blend until smooth carrots, applesauce & pumpkin
Step 2 – Mix together rice flour & oatmeal, then add wet ingredients
Step 3 – Place dough and a floured breadboard and roll out to 1/4″ thickness
Step 4 – Use bone, fish or other shaped cookie cutters to cut out cookies.

NOTE: If you prefer, you can make small drop biscuits by just dropping a teaspoon of batter onto cookie sheet and then flattened with your dampened thumb.

Step 5 – Place cookies on a greased cookie sheet (or use parchment paper) and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 7 minutes. Flip over, and bake 5 minutes more.

Cool thoroughly before offering to your best friend. Making your pet “sit” first is a polite way for your pet to say “please.”

These morsels are packed with Vitamins A, C, Magnesium, Potassium & Zinc as well as carotenoids which fight off free-radicals. Dieuretic properties and fiber may aid in pushing hairballs through, naturally expressing anal glands and flushing toxins from your pet’s system. Anti-inflammatory properties can help alleviate painful joints if consumed regularly.