Thanksgiving dinner is one of the biggest meals of the year, literally and figuratively. There’s lots and lots of delicious foods around, and hungry pets all over America will be hoping for dropped scraps or surreptitious handouts from sympathetic cousins. Whether you’re a host or a guest for Thanksgiving this year, you may want to know just what foods are safe for you to share with the family pets. From turkey to cranberries and all the rest, we’ll let you know what traditional Thanksgiving fare is safe for cats and dogs to eat.
Make way for the bird! The main event of the Thanksgiving meal, turkey is also the item on the menu you can feel most comfortable sharing with both your cat and dog. Cats are carnivores, so the meat on the table is the most natural thing to feed your feline. Opinions differ on whether raw or cooked meat is better for pets, so consult your veterinarian if you don’t feel sure. Either way, feed your pet lean, white meat instead of the fattier dark meat, and try not to go overboard.
Cranberries are great for both cats and dogs. Not only are they full of vitamins A, B1, B2 and C, but they’re well-known for helping maintain healthy urinary tracts. Cats are especially prone to urinary-tract infections and can benefit from eating cranberries (or taking cranberry supplements). On Thanksgiving, if you’re making cranberry sauce from scratch with fresh fruit, feel free to share. Canned cranberry sauce and jellied cranberry sauce, on the other hand, are full of sugar and should not be given to pets.
Fresh, raw carrots are frequently cited as an ideal snack for dogs. Dogs love their sweet, crisp taste, and carrots also boast lots of vitamins, fiber and potassium. The crunchy root vegetables are even good for your dog’s dental health, helping to remove plaque from teeth and keep breath fresh. Drop a few carrots your dog’s way before you cook them or add a bunch of salt and fat. Cats can also enjoy the benefits of carrots, but cook them first for your feline. Raw carrots may be hard for some cats to digest.
Green beans make a healthy "anytime" snack for your dog. These nutritional powerhouses are packed with vitamins, minerals and fiber, and they’re also low in calories, so even if your dog is on a diet, you won’t have to feel guilty about slipping him some string beans on Thanksgiving. However, if you’re planning to use the beans to make a green-bean casserole or some other rich dish full of salt and fat, be sure to share with your dog before your prepare the dish.
Despite being “sweet,” these spuds are actually healthier than regular potatoes because they have a lower glycemic index, which basically means they’ll wreak less havoc on your dog’s blood sugar (and yours). They’re also full of fiber, vitamins and carotenoids. If you want to share sweet potatoes with your dog, set some aside without any salt or butter on it.
MACARONI AND CHEESE
Delicious, gooey mac and cheese is a staple of many Thanksgiving tables. Whether or not it’s OK for your dog to eat depends on how you serve it up. Obviously, the final product is going to be loaded with salt and fat, and is too rich to share with your pet. However, a little bit of cooked, plain pasta is basically just bread, so you can feel OK sharing a tiny portion as a treat. If you’re making your mac and cheese from scratch, a small bit of the fresh cheese is also safe to share with your cat or a dog (unless your pet is lactose intolerant).
Pumpkin is good for dogs to eat not only because it’s low in calories and bursting with vitamins, beta carotene and fiber, but also because it helps with a dog’s digestion. If Fido is suffering from an upset tummy, diarrhea or constipation, a little bit of pumpkin may be just what the veterinarian ordered. If you’re using canned pumpkin for your pie, though, it’s better not to share it. The processed stuff isn’t healthy for dogs like fresh pumpkin is.
Corn doesn’t necessarily have any nutritional benefit for dogs to enjoy, but it also won’t harm them, so if you really want to, you can share your corn with your dog (in moderation) on Thanksgiving. Here’s one important caveat: Don’t give a dog corn on the cob. Dogs love to chew on corn cobs like bones, but it may be unsafe. Your dog could accidentally swallow the cob, which can lead to choking or a life-threatening intestinal obstruction.
Think of bread like treats. It’s safe as long as you share a little, not a lot. Bread is high in calories and has a high glycemic index, so too much can lead to weight gain very easily, especially if butter is in the mix. Sharing a roll is fine, just don’t toss roll after roll to your begging best friend at the Thanksgiving table.
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Brussels sprouts are rich in fiber and vitamins, and they also boast cancer-fighting properties that can benefit your cat or dog as much as they benefit you. You can feed Brussels sprouts to your pet as a snack raw or cooked, but not with salt, butter or other dressing added. Also, be sure to offer them in moderation, because too many Brussels sprouts can lead to diarrhea.
Thanksgiving Food Dogs and Cats Can Eatspotlight on...
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