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Guide to Feeding Your Pet Holiday Leftovers

Despite the fact that sharing one’s meals with their furry companion can encourage begging, many pet owners share table scraps and leftovers with their pets, especially during the holidays. In fact, a recent poll on PetMD revealed that fifty-six percent of pet owners share Thanksgiving table scraps with their pets. Contrary to what some may believe, sharing certain food items with your pet can actually be beneficial to their diet and overall health. However, it is important to know which foods are okay, and which foods should never be fed to your pet.

Feeding Table Scraps and Leftovers
Most pet owners subscribe to the basic rule that anything can be safe to feed their pet in small enough quantities, and unfortunately this is not true. There are a few food items that can be highly toxic to dogs and cats, and so should be completely avoided. Other food items may be safe to feed in larger quantities. Following is a basic list of do’s and don’t’s when feeding your pet holiday food scraps and leftovers:

Do Feed:

Turkey. This is a great lean protein you can share with your pet, as long as you remove excess skin and fat, ensure all bones have been removed and stick to white meat.

Potatoes. This is a wonderful and filling vegetable that can be shared with your pet, as long as additional ingredients that may be harmful–like cheese, sour cream, butter, onions and gravies–are not present.

Cranberry sauce. This is a nice treat for your pet, as long as it has very low or no sugar content.

Macaroni and cheese. Provided that your pet can handle dairy, macaroni and cheese is a safe and delicious treat to share. That said, many cats are lactose intolerant, and for those who are uncertain, plain macaroni noodles are a safer choice.

Green beans. Plain green beans can be a delicious and healthy treat for pets, as are most fresh vegetables. It is important to ensure that if green beans are used in another dish, like green bean casserole, one is also mindful of the other ingredients and whether those ingredients are safe for your pet.

Don’t Feed:

Any foods containing alliums–like onions, garlic, leeks or scallions. Very small, well-cooked bits of allium-containing foods may not be difficult for some pets to handle, but large quantities of alliums can lead to toxic anemia.

Grapes. Grapes are highly toxic for pets, and have been proven to cause kidney failure in dogs.

Anything sweetened with Xylitol. This sweetener is poisonous for pets, and can even be deadly for dogs.

Chocolate. Chocolate is extremely toxic for pets, especially darker chocolates and baking chocolates. This means that one will need to be careful not to share with their pet any foods that have any amount of chocolate in them.

Alcohol. Alcohol is a chemical substance that is toxic for pets in any amount. Considering that even small quantities of alcohol can cause marked reactions in humans, it is easy to understand why small animal bodies simply cannot metabolize or handle this substance. Alcohol poisoning can also occur if pets are fed fruit cake that contains liquor, like rum, or unbaked bread.

When sharing holiday leftovers with your pet, it is far better to be safe than sorry. The above items are some basic guidelines, but for anything else you may want to check with your pet’s veterinarian or simply avoid that food altogether. Most pet owners would readily agree that it is simply not worth it to risk their pet’s health for a few table scraps.

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