Thanksgiving has long centered on sharing a delicious meal with family, friends and those who mean the most to us. It is a time when we give thanks for the companions in our lives for which we are the most grateful. When the list of favorite friends comes to mind, dog lovers automatically include their four-legged companions. And what better way to show our appreciation for our pets’ devotion than with turkey and the fixins?
Preparing a traditional Thanksgiving meal that is satisfying, delicious and digestible for most everyone (canine companions included) is easier than you might think. My family will be sharing a little of several dishes, including turkey, with our chocolate Lab and our neighbor’s Lab. A dog’s digestive system is similar to ours, with some variation. For the purpose of preparing this meal, think of your pet as a lactose intolerant celiac with high blood pressure (i.e., needs to watch his or her salt intake) and with allergies to onion and garlic.
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If your companions’ routine diet doesn’t include human food, please keep a few things in mind.
Sharing a meal with your pet for the first time is a lot like taking your mother to a new ethnic restaurant—a little goes a long way. When introducing any new food into your dogs’ system for the first time, do not exceed more than 25 percent of his or her normal total food intake. For example, if your dog regularly eats 4 cups of dog food per day, on Thanksgiving, he or she would get 3 cups of dog food and one cup of assorted Thanksgiving dinner.
If you wouldn’t eat something, don’t give it to your pet. Ladling rich gravy over dog food only promotes overeating and is upsetting to the digestive system. Most dog foods are already coated with fat for palatability. Adding extra gravy isn’t necessary. Adding gravy to commercial kibble is the equivalent of pouring ranch dressing over potato chips.
Keep cooked bones out of your dog’s serving. They can splinter and cause injury.
► Check in with Heidi Biesterveld’s posts on The Bark blog for the next four days for planning suggestions and recipes for a happy dog-friendly Thanksgiving.