Having worked in veterinary practice for many years, it’s a very common trend for pets to visit the veterinarian for evaluation a few days after Thanksgiving. Digestive tract upset, including vomiting, diarrhea, and anorexia (decreased appetite) are the typical reasons motivating owners to bring their pet in for veterinary examination, diagnostic testing, and treatment. This observation stems from the trend for pets to receive table foods that they otherwise may not be used to eating on Thanksgiving Day.
I must state that I’m an advocate of pets eating human food year round and not just on Thanksgiving. Generally, if your canine or feline companion consumes meals and snacks made from foods just like nature creates there’s less of a potential for digestive tract upset when food changes are made. When pets primarily eat kibble-based diets and processed treats (meat simulations, biscuits, etc.), the exposure to whole foods like we humans eat can cause digestive tract upset.
So, I recommend your pet eats white meat turkey, sweet potatoes, and steamed vegetables (cauliflower, green beans, spinach, etc.) and other foods commonly eaten on Thanksgiving on a regular basis. This way, there’s less likelihood digestive tract upset will occur if a few bites of food from the table are served.
Yet, there are many foods traditionally associated with Thanksgiving that pets should avoid both on the festive day and the other 364 making up the year.
Fats and Proteins
Holiday foods, including animal skin, meats, and cheese are dense in calories, fat, and protein. These foods aren’t inherently bad in themselves and aren’t considered toxic for pets, but the fat and protein content per volume can be too rich for some pets’ digestive tracts and lead to vomit, diarrhea, anorexia, pancreatitis (pancreatic inflammation), and other undesirable clinical signs.
Besides potentially making your pet sick in the short term, feeding a portion of animal skins, fatty meats, and cheeses that look small for a person can quickly exceed your pet’s daily caloric requirements. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) 2014 National Pet Obesity Awareness Day Survey, 52.7% of dogs and 57.9% of cats are overweight or obese. That’s an astounding 100,000,000 corpulent canines and felines that shouldn’t eat extra calories just because it’s Thanksgiving.
Bones and the nutrient-dense marrow contained inside are understandably appealing to many pets. Unfortunately, bones harbor many dangers for pets and thereby fall into my list of foods to avoid.
The exuberant manner that your pooch chomps on a cooked bone can cause splintering, which mechanically irritates the lining of the stomach and intestines. Large bones or multiple pieces of bone can potentially cause esophageal, gastric, or intestinal obstruction or lacerating (tearing) when ingested.
Although raw bones are softer than their cooked counterparts, there’s potential that pathogenic bacteria could be harbored in or on the surface of a raw bone. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) discourages feeding Raw or Undercooked Animal-Source Protein in Cat and Dog Diets as bacteria or parasites that would otherwise be killed in the cooking process can infect pets and human household members. Children, geriatric and immunocompromised people (pregnant, taking chemotherapy, etc.) are more prone to opportunistic infections from pathogenic microorganisms.
Pet Food Safety During the Holidays | The Honest Kitchen Blog