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A dog friendly Thanksgiving

This month’s issue of The Whole Dog Journal has a timely article by Mary Straus focusing on the dangers of sharing certain human foods with dogs. Fatty food such as turkey skin, drippings, cheese, bacon or butter can lead to pancreatitis, especially for dogs accustomed to eating lower fat commercial diets. Of particular importance, avoid cooked bones as they can perforate the esophagus, stomach and intestines. Dogs should NEVER be fed or have access to cooked bones.

Personally, I had a beloved English Springer Spaniel that dove into Thanksgiving leftovers and discovered a carelessly disposed of turkey bone. His salivary gland was pierced, requiring significant emergency surgery, and while he thankfully survived an important lesson was learned. Unfortunately, there are too many stories that have not had such a happy ending and canine nutrition education is of the utmost importance to prevent similar tragedies from striking your family pet.

There are many ingredients that an informed pet parent should keep away from the dog, especially during the holidays. Some of the most dangerous ones discussed by Straus include:

- Xylitol is used as a sugar substitute in some sugar free baked goods and toothpastes and can cause life-threatening hypoglycemia in dogs. Straus points out that as little as five sticks of sugar free gum can sicken a 44 pound dog.

- Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs.

- Onions and Garlic can cause a form of anemia in dogs.

- Nutmeg and Sage are safe in very small amounts, but too much can cause GI upset and central nervous system depression or excitement.

- Chocolate, Coffee, and Caffeine are all highly dangerous to dogs, though dark chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate.

- Milk can cause stomach upset due to canine lactose intolerance, though small amounts of yogurt as a supplement to certain meals is not a problem.

Fido Friendly Sharing

Straus points out that there are many foods that can be safely shared with your dog as long as he or she doesn’t have health problems that require a special diet. She stresses that as long as you make good choices and limit amounts your pet can enjoy the holiday without suffering from overindulgence afterward. She also suggests putting food into a Kong or other treat dispensing toy so your dog can enjoy the challenge of removing his treat and remain occupied while you enjoy your holiday feast with friends and family!

Have you ever experienced your pup getting into dangerous food he wasn’t supposed to?

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