A Dog’s Thanksgiving

So why do veterinarians keep warning us not to feed our dogs Thanksgiving dinner?

Well, for one thing, we forget about portions. To a small dog, just three hefty slices of turkey, chicken, or ham is like you eating at least a half an entire turkey, chicken, or ham. Let’s say on Thanksgiving our little Pomeranian gets a trio of those big boy slices and gets the leftovers on Friday. No wonder he doesn’t feel so good by Saturday.

The impact can be more severe than an upset tummy. Vets see more pancreatitis around the holidays than at any other time of the year. Eating very fatty food may cause pancreatitis, and it can be life threatening. Ham is often especially fatty (not to mention salty, and that isn’t a good thing). There are lots of cases of counter surfing dogs scarfing huge hunks of meat when their owners’ backs are turned, and their pancreas just can’t process all that fat at once.

Even lean meat can take a toll when everyone at the table contributes. Here’s what can happen on holidays: Uncle Buddy says, "Fido you’re so good, here’s some turkey.” Then, only five minutes later, Aunt Sally sneaks around a corner, "Listen, Fido you’re so cute, so here’s some turkey.” Then surreptitiously, under the table, mom and dad – Rob and Laura – both sneak the dog more turkey. By the time the night is over, Fido has had more to eat than anyone at the dinner table.

Feeding a pooch from the dinner table can also inadvertently trains him to beg for food. It’s best if you ask your guests to refrain from feeding your pet, unless you say it’s OK – and to do so only by putting the treats in Fido’s food bowl.

All right. That’s the ideal. The truth is that Buddy, Sally, Rob, and Laura love Fido, and they’re going to give him some tidbits. I’m talking turkey here; the reality is that we love our pets too much to refrain. We can’t help ourselves. Just don’t go overboard – or your dog could pay a heavy price for your love.