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Should You Share Holiday Leftovers with Your Dog?

dog peering at food on table

Thanksgiving is a time to say thanks to those we love, including our canine companions. While it can be tempting to show your pet how much you appreciate them by sharing some tasty food from the family feast, it's best to offer your pup an extra doggie treat instead.

A few morsels of "people food" may seem harmless, but the fact is that some foods can be bad for a dog's health — especially the rich and fatty holiday dishes humans enjoy this time of year. Thankfully, there are a few simple ways dog owners can help keep their pets healthy this holiday season.

Tips for a Safe, Healthy and Dog-friendly Thanksgiving

The foods we eat during the holidays tend to be particularly rich and fatty, and that can cause health problems in dogs — both now and down the road. Here are some tips for keeping your pup healthy this Thanksgiving:

  • Never give your dog poultry bones; they splinter easily and can get stuck in the esophagus, where they're hard to reach.
  • Keep your pup away from chocolate. Bowls of candy — or even small pieces dropped by guests or children — may pose a real risk to pets. Though delicious for humans, even an ounce of chocolate can be fatal for dogs. A rule of thumb is the darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is — though all chocolate can be toxic and should be avoided.
  • Keep an eye on your dog when they're in the kitchen where food is often dropped. If they're not trained to stay out of the garbage, use a can with a lid or keep the trashcan out of your pet's reach, such as in a pantry or kitchen cupboard. Dogs are capable of amazing feats when food is involved.
  • Make sure your pet can't gobble up food left on counters or tables. Keep kitchen surfaces tidy and clear of food and crumbs. 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.
  • Can dogs eat grapes? No. Keep grapes, raisins and currants away from dogs as they are poisonous to dogs. There's no clear amount that can cause a reaction, but it is well documented that ingesting these food items can cause significant kidney damage.

Thanksgiving meals may have all your favorites, but keep in mind what can happen to your dog if they chow down on mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. Vomiting and diarrhea are common in dogs given food that's not a part of their regular diet, especially foods high in fat. Remember: The potential risks of feeding them Thanksgiving leftovers far outweigh their momentary delight. A little restraint and a yummy chew toy or treat will keep your dog safe this Thanksgiving — and for many holidays to come.

  • When Should You Switch Your Senior Dog to Soft Food?

    smiling lab sitting in front of brick wall

    As your dog ages, you’ll likely notice changes in your best pal’s energy levels, routine and even muzzle. Older pets may require adjustments to help them get around, exercise and live their best life as a senior. One important aspect of caring for a dog entering their golden years is diet.

    When it comes to diet, every dog has unique, individual needs, regardless of age. So, there's no one easy answer to the question of soft food versus hard food. Both types of food can provide your dog with the nutrition they need — as long as you feed your dog a high-quality dog food that’s nutritionally balanced and complete.

    two dogs eating from two bowls

    Signs Your Senior Dog May Benefit from Wet Food

    If your dog has very specific health concerns, such as aging joints or weight issues, consult with your vet for more information about what type of food best addresses your dog's needs. That being said, there are a few reasons why you may consider switching your senior dog to soft food.

    fluffy brown dog yawning showing teeth

    Teeth Sensitivity

    As your dog gets older, their teeth may become more sensitive, which can make chewing kibble more difficult and even uncomfortable. Switching to a soft food can help to alleviate your pet’s oral discomfort when eating.

    However, if your dog is experiencing serious pain at mealtime from a condition like tooth decay or gingivitis, switching to soft food won't remedy the problem. Make sure you talk to your vet about oral care and dental treatment.

    Digestion Aid

    Digestion begins in the mouth with saliva, so if your dog has a tendency to scarf down meals, they may not be adequately chewing the food or adding enough saliva to it. Soft food can aid with digestion because it's more easily chewed.

    Hydration Help

    It’s no surprise that wet food has a higher moisture content when compared to dry kibble. If your senior pup is prone to urinary-tract issues or simply needs a little help staying hydrated, canned dog food may be a good choice.

    girl kissing older dog on the head

    Slower Metabolism

    Aging dogs tend to have a slower metabolic rate compared to their younger years, which puts them at a higher risk of becoming overweight or obese. Many nutritionally balanced wet dog foods offer high protein content with fewer carbs than dry food, which can benefit older dogs with slower metabolism. Always talk to your vet if you have concerns about your pup’s weight.

    Picky Eaters

    While wet food may be less than appetizing to humans, the opposite is true for dogs! If your aging best friend has started turning their snout up to dry food, wet food tends to be more appealing to picky eaters. Mixing wet food and kibble offers your pup a variety of flavors and textures; try adding wet food as a topper on dry food for a real treat!

    Whether you choose dry food, soft food  or a mix of both, ask your vet before making any transition. And when it's time to switch your dog's food, remember to do it slowly — even if it's the same brand and flavor — to help prevent stomach upset and allow your dog time to adjust.

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