By Mary Giron, DVM

The holidays are upon us! Including your pet in your holiday celebrations can be fun way to express that they are a special part of the family too. Pet poisonings spike every holiday season, so you need to be very careful with what you feed them and how it is prepared. The last thing you want to be doing in the middle of Thanksgiving is visiting an emergency vet or waiting on hold with the Pet Poison Helpline.

Even if you know something is safe to feed your pet, take a moment to think about how you are preparing it. Sweet potatoes may be healthy for dogs, but excess fat and sugar are not so you have to separate out some before adding butter. A best practice is to cook their special meal separately to avoid the chance of a toxic ingredient accidentally finding its way into their dish.

Here are some great “people food” choices you can make for both your canine and feline friends this Thanksgiving. Be sure to serve them in small portions, cooked when applicable and unseasoned.

1. Turkey (no skin or bones)
2. Pumpkin
3. Apple
4. Cheese

Chocolate, onions, garlic or foods containing artificial sweetener (Xylitol) should be avoided. Small portions of dark leafy greens (no dressing) and select, pesticide-free fruits and vegetables can be good treats for reptiles, bunnies, guinea pigs and rats. Birds may also enjoy select fruits, veggies and nuts.

The lists above are not complete and each species has specific dietary requirements. Even if you think something is safe, always do your research. The American Veterinary Medical Association is a great resource for pet food safety. After all, you don’t want to be worrying about both of you overindulging in all the tasty treats this Thanksgiving!

vet dr giron headshotAbout The Author: Dr. Giron at SPCA Tampa Bay Veterinary Center graduated from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in 2013. She received a Bachelor’s in Zoology from the University of Florida in 2009. Her professional interests include dentistry, acupuncture and ophthalmology.