Tis the season!

It’s the time of year when we feel sentimental enough to actively gather together with family and friends to share our company, gifts and most of all, food.  Our pets are part of the family too and you may be thinking of allowing them to take part in some of your festivities – aka left overs from your meal as an extra treat.

But before the party is in full swing, and your furry little guys and gals are roaming around begging for handouts or counter swiping a few goodies, you might want to consider a few food rules and maybe even inform your guests, including the kids as to what’s cool and what’s not cool.

Of course, the first question to ask is, “Is giving my pet a few table scraps a good idea to begin with?”  Well according to Lucy Postins, of the human-grade whole food pet food company, The Honest Kitchen, it’s absolutely OK.  In fact, there are lot’s of foods that are not only safe for most pets to eat, but that also add a healthy variety and extra nutrition to your dog’s and cat’s regular meals, making holiday meals  a special feast for everyone.  Of course, you still have to be careful.  There are plenty of do’s and don’ts.  Fido and Kitty can’t eat everything even though they think they can. So here are some tips for feeding pets from the holiday dinner table.

Top recommendations to share with your pets this year around the dining table:

Turkey, Ham, Prime Rib and other meats. These can all be added in moderation; the key thing to remember is to never feed pets any type of cooked bones because they can splinter and damage the GI tract. Also avoid too much fat and gristle, which can potentially be dangerous. Whenever possible, choose free-range, natural and grass-fed meats, which are healthier for you and your pets.

Green Bean Casserole. Most pets love the sweet taste of green bean casserole, just do not include the onion topping and serve to pets in small amounts. As an alternative, you can share fresh, raw or cooked green beans to your pets as well.

Sweet Potatoes. These are an excellent source of beta carotene and make a highly nutritious meal addition for dogs. Steamed or baked sweet potatoes are ideal, especially since raw root vegetables can be difficult to digest. Avoid giving your pet the holiday-themed sweet potato side dishes that contain marshmallows, syrup or nuts.

Cranberries. These are a great addition to your pets’ meals any time of the year, but be wary of the sauce and jelly side dishes. Cranberries contain natural compounds that can help prevent bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall, so they are an excellent choice for cats and dogs who are prone to urinary tract infections.

Winter Vegetables. Winter vegetables like pumpkin, squash, chard and kale are loaded with vitamins, antioxidants and fiber, and are great gently cooked for pets. Avoid serving your pets large amounts of vegetables, however, that contain added salt, wine, soy sauce or butter.

Absolute NO’s for these foods for your pets:

Stuffing and Corn Pudding. These products tend to contain onions and raisins, as well as bread and cornmeal, which can lead to ear infections and skin problems.

Desserts and Cheeses. When eaten in excess, these can cause stomach problems for pets. (so a little bit of cheese is fine.  definitely no sugar)

Relishes, Pickles and Sauces. These condiments tend to contain heavy spices, sugar, onion and other ingredients that can cause disruption in their GI tract.

Toxic Foods to Pets

The following list of ingredients are toxic to pets and should not be fed to pets in any form:

  • Onions
  • Chocolate
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Grapes
  • Raisins
  • Artificial candies containing xylitol

One more tip: 

If you do decide to break the established house rule of “no people food”, don’t allow your pet to gorge.  It can lead to health problems such as pancreatitis and bloat. The best thing to do is gradually add new foods into their diets to make sure they can handle them.