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Have a pet-safe Thanksgiving dinner

Original Publication Date: November 23, 2015
By C. Sue Furman, Ph.D.

Thanksgiving is a time for family, friends, fun and usually too much food.

Your pets can certainly join with family and friends for fun. They can also enjoy some of the Thanksgiving treats, but others must be avoided.

Your dog can have a scrumptious Thanksgiving dinner if you choose from dishes that are good for him. Protein-rich turkey is great for your pet. Boneless portions of white meat with skin and fat removed are best.

Sweet potatoes may be on your menu. They are a great source of dietary fiber and vitamins B6 and C. Your holiday dish may be sugared and spiced, so share only a small helping with your dog.

Green beans are another good source of fiber and are rich in vitamins K and C. Many dogs enjoy them frozen. You may wish to substitute unseasoned frozen green beans for your holiday dish.

Pure pumpkin is a healthy food for dogs. Of course, when it is spiced up into a pie filling, the serving should be small.

While you and your guests enjoy your special meal, your pet can have turkey and trimmings too, but keep the portions small and appropriate to his size. Offer your dog his normal kibble, but add a bit of flavor by adding some turkey, sweet potatoes and green beans. He can even have a smidgen of pumpkin pie.

You may want to make your pet's Thanksgiving dinner last longer by mixing a bit of his kibble with some dinner goodies and putting them in a food puzzle toy. He will be kept busy for quite a while as he works to get the tasty morsels.

Your holiday treats will tickle your 10,000 taste buds. Your pup has only 1,700 taste buds, and some have specific receptors tweaked for meats, which are much preferred.

Have a pet-safe Thanksgiving dinner Have a pet-safe Thanksgiving dinner
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Your scrumptious side dishes may not be as enticing to him. His Thanksgiving meal should be a little treat, not a banquet. Overindulging can give your buddy an upset stomach.

There are foods to avoid giving your dog.

Chocolate is a definite no-no. While it tastes yummy to humans, it contains substances called methylxanthines that cause problems ranging from diarrhea to seizures and even death in dogs.

Your pet should never be given onions, garlic, leeks, or scallions as these lead to toxic anemia.

Grapes and raisins also need to be avoided because they cause kidney failure in dogs.

Steer clear of offering alcohol and foods prepared with artificial sweeteners that contain xylitol. These too are toxic to dogs.

Make Thanksgiving a happy day for your family, friends, and your dog. Enjoy a wonderful meal of turkey with all the trimmings. Your pup can relish many of the tasty dishes you prepare, but keep his dinner free of foods you may enjoy but that are dangerous for him.

Sue Furman, Ph.D, has published two books and a DVD on canine massage and teaches classes in pet massage, acupressure, first aid and CPR. See her schedule and submit questions at