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Why You Should Keep Your Pet Away From The Thanksgiving Table

Published on: November 9, 2022  |  Author: Starwood Pet Travel

Thanksgiving dinner
America’s favorite chow-down holiday is right around the corner. We look forward all year to turkey and all the trimmings – not to mention all those desserts. Many of us actually plan to overeat. Your pet loves food, too. So why should you keep them away from the Thanksgiving table this year? Because Thanksgiving treats can be very dangerous, in several ways.

Thanksgiving food simply packs on too many calories

We tend to forget that even a small number of extra calories can represent a big percentage of your pet’s daily optimum allotment. Especially for cats and small dogs. You may not care that you feel like a beached whale after munching away all day on Thanksgiving food, but surely you don’t wish all that bloating and discomfort on your beloved pet!

Many Thanksgiving treats are toxic to dogs and/or cats

Your pet might have food allergies or sensitivities, in which case you have to be extra careful, all the time. But even those with the proverbial cast-iron stomach can become very ill or even die as a result of eating Thanksgiving treats. It’s easy to get confused.
For one thing, some human foods are just fine for pets. Typical Thanksgiving treats might include:
  • Turkey
  • Potatoes
  • Vegetables, including pumpkin, carrots, and broccoli
  • Fruits, including apples and cranberries
But here’s the problem. There are some foods and spices you should never feed your cat or dog. And many of these products sneak into Thanksgiving dishes as “supporting role” ingredients. The food that was OK is now very much not OK. Common examples include:
  • Anything in the allium family. Onions, leeks, shallots, scallions, chives, and garlic can cause toxic anemia.
  • Sugar. Cranberries can be a real plus to support your pet’s urinary tract and provide antioxidants. But cranberry sauce loaded with sugar? Or anything else with sugar? A big no. this goes for the pumpkin pie and sweet potato dishes, too. Squash can be very good for pets, but only on its own. As a side note, if you think using faux sugar fixes this problem, read the label first. Artificial sugar made from Xylitol can make your cat sick and kill your dog.
  • Turkey skin. Sure, your pet thinks it’s delicious, but if it’s been saturated with onion, garlic, or sage for brining or baking, it’s off the table for pets. Even powdered seasonings can cause problems. Sage can upset your cat’s stomach and interfere with their central nervous system.  
  • Other seasonings. Nutmeg can cause seizures, and cinnamon can cause anything from diarrhea and vomiting to low blood sugar and liver disease.
  • Mushrooms. They can show up in gravy, stuffing, and veggie dishes like the ever-popular green bean casserole. (The beans are fine on their own.)
  • Dairy products, including milk, sour cream, cheese, and butter. Cats can actually develop lactose intolerance as they mature, but dairy products tend to give most cats and dogs diarrhea.
  • Grapes and raisins can cause serious kidney problems in dogs.
  • Walnuts and macadamia nuts can cause neurological disorders.
  • And of course, we all know chocolate is forbidden, especially for dogs.

Poultry bones splinter easily

Your pet could choke to death or puncture some portion of their digestive tract. Who wants to “celebrate” Thanksgiving at the animal emergency clinic?

Mind your manners

You may allow begging when mealtimes are family-only, but your dinner guests will probably not appreciate being stared at or pawed, no matter how adorable your dog or cat is. Everyone will give thanks if your pet is safely located somewhere else.
  • Teach your dog a reliable “down/stay” so they will remain away from the table.
  • Put your pet in another room and close the door, or use a baby gate. Put a glob of peanut butter into a Kong toy, and let your pet work on that while you and your guests enjoy your dinner.
Better yet, give them their own bowl of Thanksgiving treats, so they can celebrate along with you, without the risk of injury or illness. Just go plain so they will stay safe. Your pet won’t miss all those extra-special “people” ingredients anyway.
Just don’t feed them at the table. In fact, you can show your pet love this Thanksgiving by asking your guests to promise to abide by your “no feeding” rule all day long. The last thing you want is for someone to inadvertently slip your pet a toxic treat.
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