Think before you treat |

Think before you treat

It might be tough to refrain from sharing Thanksgiving treats, but area experts remind to be sure you're giving your pups food that isn't harmful.
Courtesy of Sean Field |

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and your dog is likely just as excited about the leftovers as you are.

Area experts warn that dog lovers, while acting from the goodness of their hearts, might unknowingly be feeding their four-legged friends foods that aren’t good for them.

“Thanksgiving is a wonderful time for family and friends to gather and enjoy a delicious meal, but it’s important to be cautious with your pets this time of year. A lot of people-food is not good for pets and feeding them the wrong thing can make them very sick,” said Stephanie Nistler, executive director of the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe.

Their mouths will be watering in anticipation of a fallen piece of delicious people-food, but it’s important to be aware of which foods are safe to treat, and which could be potentially harmful to your pooch.

“We always recommend feeding dogs food that was designed for them, but if you just can’t help but sneak them a treat on Thanksgiving, a small bite of well-cooked turkey should be OK,” Nistler added.

While well-cooked turkey is all right, local veterinarian Dr. Amanda Stuart cautions that turkey skin and drippings are not OK for dogs.

“So we sometimes call pancreatitis ‘Thanksgiving Syndrome’ because it is so prevalent during the holidays. Some dogs are more sensitive than others to getting it, but any dog that eats too much grease or fat can develop it. Pancreatitis is “inflammation” of the pancreas, which is responsible for digestion, and causes vomiting, diarrhea, and severe abdominal pain. In some cases it is fatal,” she said.

Another high-fat snack is nuts. Walnuts and macadamia nuts in particular can be toxic to dogs and nuts in general are also high in fat, which can cause gastrointestinal (GI) tract issues or obstruct when swallowed whole.

Below are North Tahoe expert tips on the top five foods you should not share with your pups as you make your way through Thanksgiving leftovers.

1. Bones, raw meat

Poultry bones are especially prone to splintering and can easily cause an obstruction in the dog’s digestive system, which may require surgery to repair. Bones can puncture the GI tract, which can cause a severe infection and be fatal.

Salmonella bacteria is dangerous for dogs as well, so be sure the meat you feed them is cooked through.

2. Raw yeast bread dough

Raw bread dough contains yeast, which will continue to react after being ingested by your dog.

“If dogs eat raw dough, it can actually keep rising in the stomach which causes obstruction, and the yeast can also ferment and give the dogs alcohol poisoning,” Stuart said.

3. Onion, garlic, and chives

While a tasty seasoning, these root vegetables are poisonous to dogs and cats and should not be fed as treats. The onion-family veggies damage dog’s red blood cells and can cause anemia. Red blood cell damage can potentially lead to internal organ damage and could be fatal.

4. Alcohol

It’s never a good idea to feed alcohol to pets, as it lowers their blood sugar and body temperature, which could cause a coma or seizures. Be aware of alcohol used as an ingredient in a dish or found in unbaked, rising dough.

5. Dog-friendly alternatives

As previously mentioned, fully cooked meat shouldn’t be a cause for concern if you want to treat your dogs. Try to stick to dog-friendly treat options and be sure to balance their food intake by subtracting the amount of treats throughout the day from their regular meals.

Cassandra Walker is a features and entertainment reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at, 530-550-2654 or @snow1cass.

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