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Pumpkin as Thanksgiving Treat

Pumpkin are colorful and fun, and also good for your pet!
fineapps2013 (Werner Reischel) [Flickr]
Pumpkin are colorful and fun, and also good for your pet!

Most of the foods we enjoy at Thanksgiving are not good for our pets, but pumpkin is pet-friendly and healthy!  Make sure you feed your furry friend only the meat of the pumpkin (not the skin, stem or leaves), and use only fresh or pure canned pumpkin.

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With Thanksgiving coming up this week, it’s time to remember some of the dangersposed to our pets by the yummy foods and treats we enjoy on this holiday.

Let’s start with turkey bones, which are fragile and can splinter when your pet bites down on them. Shards of bone can pierce an animal’s digestive tract and cause major damage. Onions can cause anemia in dogs and cats – even the powdered kind. Grapes and raisins can cause kidney damage in pets, and chocolate can be fatal.

In fact, even without poultry bones, onions, grapes, raisins and chocolate, all that rich, fatty food that tastes so good can still have a negative effect on your pet’s system. It’s okay to give your furry friend small tastes of rich food, like potatoes, even a little gravy, but too much could result in pancreatitis or gastroenteritis – both very painful and possibly deadly.

So what’s left if you want to give your pet a treat?

How about a little pumpkin? Not only do animals love it, but it’s actually good for your pet. Pumpkin is high in fiber and moisture, which can act as a sort of laxative, preventing constipation. It also helps your cat with any hairball problems.

Pumpkin is loaded with nutrients, like alpha and beta carotene, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, even vitamins A, C and E. All those help your pet to maintain a healthy immune system, good vision, strong teeth and bones, and an efficient digestive tract. It can even help your pet take off a pound or two. Just substitute a little pumpkin in place of a portion of the food you’re giving your four-footed friend.

You can use fresh pumpkin or canned – but make sure it’s one hundred percent pumpkin with no sugar added. Check with your veterinarian if your pet has diabetes or kidney problems. There are all sorts of recipes online for pet snacks made with pumpkin.

It’s a great way to treat your best friend like one of the family while keeping it safe and healthy. Now there’s something to be thankful for, when you’re speaking of pets.

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