BY HEATHER DOWDY
With Thanksgiving just days away, it will be tempting to give into begging faces and puppy-dog eyes. But sharing what's on the table with your furry friend could cause an upset stomach or, worse, could even be deadly. We've rounded up 9 healthy fruits and veggies to safely share with your pet pals... and 7 to avoid at all costs.
Wishing you and your furry family a safe and happy holiday season!
9 HEALTHY FRUITS + VEGGIES
When deciding whether or not to treat your pet to fresh fruits and veggies, keep in mind that the dietary needs for cats and dogs are very different. Cats are obligate carnivores, relying on meat proteins for their wellbeing. Dogs, on the other hand, are more omnivorous, naturally eating a variety of meats, plants and berries in the wild. While our feline friends can certainly enjoy some fruits and veggies in small quantities once in a while, this post is geared more toward our canine companions.
While veterinarians agree that these fresh fruits and veggies can boost your pet's health, it is typically advised that they make up about 10% of your pup's total diet. Also, be sure to remove any stems and seeds and then shred or blend the produce before feeding to your pet for better digestibility.
You already know that these delicious little berries pack a superfood punch for us, but did you know that they are just as healthy for our furry friends? The antioxidants and fiber they provide are grreat for your pet, and most dogs love eating them. Use a few as a meal topper, or offer them frozen for an extra fun treat!
Whether served raw or lightly cooked, carrots make a great snack for pup pals. Raw, they provide crunch for cleaning teeth -- although it is best to shred or puree them for smaller dogs to prevent possible choking. High in beta carotene, fiber and vitamins, they're a great addition to your pet's mealtime.
3. Green Beans
Nutritious and low in calories, green beans make an excellent snack or food topper for overweight pets. High in iron and vitamins, these tasty beans are best lightly cooked. Be sure to use fresh or frozen beans and to avoid canned beans that may have added sodium.
4. Sweet Potato
High in dietary fiber, potassium and minerals while low in fat, boiled or steamed sweet potatoes are great for digestive health. Start with just a small spoonful added a few times a week to your pup's dinner bowl. You'll also find a variety of dried sweet potato chews in local and online pet markets -- a grreat alternative to rawhides!
High in water, vitamins and water content, plain, pureed pumpkin can help soothe digestive troubles. And most dogs go crazy for it! Be sure to only offer seedless, fresh pumpkin puree -- avoid pumpkin pie filling or any pumpkin with added spices. Bonus tip: pumpkin is the perfect addition to any dog biscuit recipe!
Chop and lightly steam some of this power-green to add vital nutrients and vitamins to your dog's diet. It's low calorie and high in beta carotene, calcium, potassium and vitamins C and K.
Grating some fresh zucchini over your dog's food is a good way to add calcium, beta carotene and potassium to your pup's diet, while adding some interest!
Low in fat and high in fiber, apples are a low-calorie treat that is a great option for overweight pets. Be sure to remove the core and seeds before feeding. Some pups even love an apple slice or two dipped in peanut butter -- but be careful to check that the butter does not contain Xylitol, an artificial sweetener that is toxic to pets.
Most pups love bananas. In fact, our Instagram friend @edwardthebullterrier (featured in our Holiday 2017 Issue) won't even get out of bed in the morning until he hears his dad, Ray, peel one for him! While they're high in potassium and a healthy treats, bananas do have a decent amount of natural sugars... so be sure to feed sparingly, and avoid with overweight pets.
7 TOXIC FOODS TO AVOID
As tempting as it may be to feed your pet table scraps after the holiday meal, many foods can be downright dangerous for our furry friends, and added sugar, salt and spices can cause stomach upset. Be sure to keep these foods out of Fido's reach.
1. Grapes and Raisins
Grape and raisin toxicity is well documented in pets, and can lead to kidney failure and more. Even a small amount may make your pet sick.
Onions contain an ingredient called thiosulphate which is very toxic to cats and dogs. According to Dr. Ann Hohenhaus, staff doctor at NYC's Animal Medical Center, "Any member of the Allium family—onions, garlic, leeks, and chives are the most common reported to cause toxicity—contains N-propyl disulfide. This compound damages the oxygen-carrying substance found in red blood cells called hemoglobin.”
3. Macadamia Nuts
Ingestion of macadamia nuts by dogs has been associated with a nonfatal syndrome characterized by vomiting, weakness, hyperthermia and lethargy.
4. Fat Trimmings and Bones
While you may be tempted to share a holiday drumstick with your best pet pal, think again. The grease and fats can be too rich for your pet, causing pancreatitis, while bones can cause choking and can splinter and tear the digestive tract. If you want to share meat with your pet this holiday, it is best to shred some plain, cooked chicken breast to mix into his food or to feed with rice.
Xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs. According to Veterinary Centers of America, even small amounts of xylitol can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), seizures, liver failure and even death in dogs. This ingredient can be found in everything from some peanut butters to candy, gun, toothpaste and more. Always check your peanut butter label before sharing with your pup, and keep all foods and products with this ingredient out of reach.
Most of us know that chocolate is toxic to dogs (and cats!). While rarely fatal, chocolate ingestion can result in significant illness. Chocolate is toxic because it contains a chemical called theobromine, as well as caffeine. Dr. Ahna Brutlag wrote the following for VCA Hospitals:
"The amount of toxic theobromine varies with the type of chocolate. The darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more dangerous it is to dogs. Baking chocolate and gourmet dark chocolate are highly concentrated and contain 130-450 mg of theobromine per ounce, while common milk chocolate only contains about 44-58 mg/ounce. White chocolate barely poses any threat of chocolate poisoning with only 0.25 mg of theobromine per ounce of chocolate (that said, dogs can still get sick from all that fat and sugar, which can cause pancreatitis). To put this in perspective, a medium-sized dog weighing 50 pounds would only need to eat 1 ounce of baker's chocolate, or 9 ounces of milk chocolate, to potentially show signs of poisoning."
The trouble of cherries lies in that their pits, stems, and leaves contain cyanide, which is poisonous and potentially lethal if consumed in large amounts. Cherry pits can also become lodged in your dog's digestive tract and cause intestinal blockages and issues.