Keeping Pets Safe During the Holiday Season

Visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads, the smell of spiced apple cider, lights decorating your house, Christmas carols on the radio and in stores, the rush of buying gifts, and traveling to see family members are some of the many things that happen around the holiday season. Gathering around the kitchen to eat treats, snacks and large meals also happen during this time of year. Unfortunately for you, this often means a few extra pounds, and unfortunately, this is oftentimes true for our pets as well.

While it may be difficult to practice self control in our over-indulgence of calories, we need to practice that same control for our pets. Now, while some may never advocate “table food” for our pets, the reality is that most of us will succumb to those large brown eyes staring at us begging, “Please, just one small morsel won’t hurt.” This can be true depending on the tidbit your offer your pet. With that in mind, there are some foods OK to share with your pet, while there are also some definite NO foods.

First, it should be mentioned that if you don’t want your pet to be a “beggar” at your table, then don’t start the habit by offering morsels you are eating for your meal. However, should you choose to feed table scraps, a small portion of a cooked potato, boiled rice, green beans (cooked or raw), carrots, or a slice of bread are options that keep your pet thinking that they are getting something special. These options are low in fat and don’t add too many calories, if fed in small portions.

Remember to take into account the size of your pet as well. For example, a small portion for a Lab is not a small portion for a Yorkie in regard to the percentage of their total daily calories. Treats specifically formulated for pets are a good option in place of table food when given in the appropriate amounts.

Always avoid turkey drippings, or that roasted golden brown fatty skin from your bird. The fatty trimmings from any meat should be avoided. Gravy is also a no-no. The ingestion of fat can many times provoke an episode of pancreatitis which can be life threatening or, at the least, a bad bout of diarrhea and/or gas. No bird bones or pork bones either! Onions are also off the list for your pet.

Of course, there are “extras” that go into the trash can, so make sure that your trash is pet-proof. Every year during the holidays we see cases of “garbage eating” that results in sick pets.

What about fruits or nuts, you might ask? No grapes or raisons for any occasion or reason. Also be cautious with the nuts or seeds of any fruit such as apples, apricots and peaches as the nut portion is toxic. Almonds and walnuts can also be problematic.

And of course, be careful with chocolate, poinsettia plants and mistletoe. No, you can’t give Grandma’s fruit cake to the dog. (They probably won’t eat it anyway.)

The holidays are a time to give thanks and enjoy quality time with friends, family and our pets. Let these times be truly merry and avoid a visit to the veterinary emergency hospital by not allowing your pet to over-indulge in foods or “treats” that may be inappropriate. Wishing you and all your family members, including those four-legged ones, a very happy holiday season!

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