Should you share holiday leftovers with your dog?

This is a season to say thanks to those we love, including our canine companions. Some dog owners do this by sharing some of their family feast with their pooch. While you may think that a few morsels of "people food" can't hurt, the fact is that some foods can be harmful—even lethal—to dogs.

The foods we eat during the holidays tend to be particularly rich and fatty, and that can cause health problems in dogs now and down the road. Vomiting and diarrhea are commonly seen in dogs given food that is not a part of their regular diet, especially foods that are high in fat.

How to ensure that your dog has a safe and healthy Thanksgiving:

  • Never give your dog poultry bones—they can splinter easily and stick in the esophagus, where they are hard to reach.
  • Keep him away from chocolate—it can be fatal to dogs. Bowls of candy, or pieces dropped by guests or children, may pose a real risk to your pets. The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is. But any chocolate, in large enough amounts, can kill a dog. An ounce of chocolate can be toxic to a 30–pound dog, and many dogs can easily consume more than that.
  • Don't let your dog lie on the kitchen floor where food is often dropped. If he is not trained to stay out of the garbage, use a can with a lid, or keep it out of your pet's reach. Dogs are capable of amazing feats when food is involved.
  • Make sure your pet can't access food left on counters or tables. After you've cleaned the kitchen, take the garbage out and dispose of it in a secure place where no pets can get into it.

Thanksgiving meals may have all your favorites, but imagine what can happen to your dog if he chows down on mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. Keep in mind that the potential risks of feeding him Thanksgiving leftovers far outweigh his momentary delight. A little restraint and a yummy chew toy will keep your dog safe this Thanksgiving and for many holidays to come.

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