THE DOG HOLIDAYS OF WINTER

Most dogs enjoy eating. And, at this time of year, humans often have a lot of extra foods around the house. How tempting this is to the sensitive canine nose. Is it okay to share these holiday delicacies with our canine friends? I know that many dog care professionals would say “no, stick to dog food, and dog treats for your dogs.” I don’t completely agree. Of course, if your dog is not used to eating anything besides dog food and dog treats, then it probably is best to go easy on the extra foods, because your dog’s digestive system won’t be able to handle it. However, if your dog gets extras from you, anyway, then why not share your holiday extras with your dog, as well?

Allow me to go a little off the subject, here, and talk about my opinions on what dogs should eat. Well, there are two great things that dogs have in their favor, as far as eating goes. Number one, dogs are scavengers; therefore they can eat things that are not completely fresh, and get away with it; not that I advocate giving your dog rotten food, or anything. More importantly, though, dogs are omnivores, like people, and they therefore can, and need to, eat a variety of foods. And, please remember that dogs lived off of the scraps of humans for thousands of years before dog food was invented. So, forget about that whole “dogs should not eat people food” idea. What the heck is “people food,” anyway? I eat fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs, and some grains, beans, and nuts. Those aren’t “people foods.” Those are simply foods; the same foods that other animals eat all of the time; and hopefully, the same foods that make up the ingredients in dog food. Now, if by “people food,” you are talking about packaged, over-processed, foods full of chemicals, sugars, white flour, and trans-fats, then yes, I agree don’t give those to your dog. I would strongly advise you not to eat them, either, by the way. I am going to let you in on a little secret here; I think that the best foods for dogs are what they ate for thousands of years; our leftovers. Yep; dogs need to eat bones, meat scraps, eggs, fruits, vegetables, and some grains and nuts.

Now, back to the holiday eating; here are some things that I would readily share with my dog and cats, since they are all used to eating a wide variety of foods, anyway. The first things that I like to share with them are the RAW giblets from turkeys, since I generally don’t do anything else with those, anyway, and they love them. Emma also loves to eat the RAW neck from turkeys. Yes, it is true that poultry bones are HAZARDOUS TO DOGS, IF FED COOKED, because they can splinter. However, this is not true of raw poultry bones. Ask the many people who routinely feed raw turkey and chicken necks and backs to their dogs and cats, if you don’t believe me (yes, there is a whole movement of people who shun pet foods, and feed their animals raw diets). Emma, of course, also loves to get any raw or cooked vegetable scraps, as well. I will give her small amounts of poultry skin, since she loves it. But, poultry skin has a lot of fat attached to it, and eating a lot of it at once can overload a dog’s pancreas, so best to err on the side of caution when faced with whether to give your dog all of the leftover turkey skin. I do not give cooked skin to my cats, since cooked fats are not so good for cats, but I would readily give them raw skin.

There are some things that dogs should not eat at holidays, or any other times, either, of course. First, as I am sure you know, chocolate is poisonous to dogs and cats, so keep those holiday treats from the candy shop out of reach of your pets. Actually, it’s just best not to share your desserts with your dogs, at all, sugar being so harmful. Stick to things that are healthy for them. Also, make sure that your dog can’t drink the water under the Christmas tree, or eat poinsettia plants. These both can land your dog in the hospital. And, of course, don’t give your dog any cooked turkey bones.

Other than avoiding those things that your dog really should not eat, if your dog has had table scraps in the past, go ahead and share your holiday feast with your dog. Heck, make it a plate, complete with potatoes, gravy, vegetables, stuffing, and cranberry sauce (but go easy on those last two, if they contain sugar). Why not? You’ll be feeding your dog your scraps, just as our ancestors did.