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Thanksgiving and Pets

Couldn't I even get a taste??
Couldn't I even get a taste??

Are you making preparations for a big Thanksgiving feast this coming Thursday?  A lot of us really enjoy the holiday tradition of good food shared with loved ones.

From the time I was nine years old, pets were a part of my family’s life and part of our holiday celebrations.  In almost every group photo of our family, someone is holding the family dog.  (After all, we did want a picture of the whole family.)  While some people may feed their pets Thanksgiving leftovers or scraps, my mom and dad saved choice morsels for the dog so he wouldn’t feel left out.  As I think back, I realize we never had a skinny dog.

The truth is that people food, especially high-fat holiday food, is not healthy for our pets.  It may make us feel good to give them a yummy treat, but we’re not really doing them any favors.  And it’s not just the high fat content that poses a problem for pets – things like poultry bones from chicken or turkey can kill a pet if they splinter into sharp pieces and damage the intestinal tract.  Instead, show how much you love your pet by feeding it a high quality pet food that will provide all the essential nutrients needed for good health.  Mix in just a little of the yummy juices or meat for a special treat.  And for dessert, skip the pie and give your best friend a little applesauce.    That way your pet won’t feel left out, and may not suffer from a tummy ache the next day.

If you want to help other pet owners who are less fortunate at Thanksgiving, make a contribution of money or pet food to your local food bank.  For pets who don’t have homes or owners to care for them, make a contribution to your local animal shelter.  Better yet, volunteer your time to groom the animals, play with the cats and walk the dogs.  Grooming and exercise make for a more adoptable pet. 

And if you really want to make a difference in the life of a dog or cat, adopt one from your local animal shelter or animal welfare group.  I can tell you from experience that it can add a lot to your quality of life, not to mention your family pictures, when you’re speaking of pets.


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