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Sharing Thanksgiving With Our Pets?

Robyn Fleming

A lot of us really enjoy the Thanksgiving tradition of good food shared with our loved ones, but this holiday maybe we shouldn't share quite so much with our four-footed family members.


Lately a number of folks have been sending emails and posting on Facebook to tell everyone what they are thankful for. It seems like a good idea, especially with Thanksgiving coming up this week.

As you might guess, on the list of things I am thankful for, you will find pets. I have been blessed with some wonderful pets who have shared my life and my home, who have given me companionship and devotion. Although I know that not everyone enjoys having a pet, I cannot imagine my life without them. I feel that way even when I have to clean the pet hair off my dark clothes (again), or when I pay the vet bill. Having healthy, happy pets makes my life better.

So, with the Thanksgiving holiday approaching, it’s a good time to think about how we include our furry friends in the festivities.

Are you one that scrapes all those tasty leftovers into the pet’s bowl after dinner? My mother would have frowned at that. She thought leftovers were not good enough, that a pet should have its own serving of turkey or ham or whatever we were having.

Sorry, Mom, but most pet’s digestive systems cannot tolerate the high salt, high fat foods we often have at Thanksgiving. It isn’t all that healthy for us, but it’s really bad for our furry friends. It may be okay to give small amounts as a treat, but not in place of an animal’s meal. Just make sure all bones are removed, especially poultry bones that can splinter easily when chewed and pierce the digestive tract if swallowed.

Most of us know that chocolate is dangerous to pets. That’s because animals are particularly sensitive to theobromine, a compound found in chocolate. Baking chocolate, used in all those yummy desserts, contains almost nine times more theobromine than milk chocolate. It can cause anything from mild digestive upset to coma if eaten in large enough quantity.

It may be fun to let your pet participate in the holiday fun and feasting, but a little care this Thanksgiving will help insure that you and your four-footed family member will be sharing lots of holidays to come. In my book, that’s something to be thankful for, when you’re speaking of pets.


Mindy Norton has been “Speaking of Pets” on Alabama Public Radio since 1995.
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