Ah, the season is here! Falling leaves, warm blankets, and tasty turkeys, oh my! The holiday of Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to enjoy.
We've celebrated the last week of November for hundreds of years, baking up lovely batches of our favorite foods to share with family, friends, and loved ones. Who doesn't love a holiday that's all about food?
Although they may not be able to enjoy all the foods that humans can, our pets deserve to share in the season's festivities. This Thanksgiving, cook up a holiday meal for everyone, including your four-legged furry friends!
Pet-Friendly Thanksgiving: Setting Up The Special Day
No matter what you have planned for the humans in your life, it's important to consider the substance of your pet's Thanksgiving meal. You may want to try recipes that are more holiday-specific than others, such as turkeys and sweet potatoes. Perhaps you would prefer to stick with tried-and true classics, like chicken and rice.
Regardless of which avenue you choose, you will need to know exactly what foods your pets will happily gobble up, and which foods they ought not to have at the dinner table.
Here are some bad and good foods you'll need to watch out for.
The Bad Foods: What To Avoid
Before you jump right into the kitchen, there are a few considerations you should keep in mind.
For starters, what kind of pets will you be preparing a meal for? Is there only one animal in your household? Two? Are they all the same species, or will you need to cook for multiple kinds? Different pets require different food items, and their stomachs will likely need unique foods or ingredients in order to stay healthy.
Some of the most dangerous foods your pets should stay away from are:
- Onions and Garlic: These two foods have the ability to kill off red blood cells in dogs. This may lead to anemia, weakness, and even death.
- Grapes and Raisins: Both forms of these sweet treats are the least healthful thing your cat could be consuming this holiday season. Even just a few can cause kidney failure and hyperactivity in your feline friend, which is why they should be written off the menu.
- Almonds and Walnuts: Your birds probably love harvest nuts, but they don't need many before they start exhibiting health problems. A single walnut or almond has enough fat to supply even a macaw with enough protein for the day. Don't overdo things with your holiday festivities.
- Alcohol: No matter what species of pet is spending time with you for the holidays, alcohol will be the ultimate no-no substance. Your furry or feathered friends may be intoxicated with you, but that doesn't mean they need to be drunk in real life, too. Pets who consume even a few ounces of alcoholic beverages may experience a loss of coordination, difficulty breathing, and even coma. The smaller your pet is, the worse these effects will be.
The Good Foods: What's Safe To Choose
There may be a few limitations on what your pets can eat versus what you'll be eating this Thanksgiving, but that shouldn't stop you from cooking up a delicious dinner that your companion just can't get over.
Here are a few suggestions for foods based on the type of pet you own.
- Dogs: Dogs have impressively bottomless stomachs (just where does all that dog food go?). Low sodium turkey or chicken breast is a wonderful treat for dogs of all sizes, as long as there is no extra skin included. Throw in some cooked, plain sweet potatoes and unseasoned green beans for an eye catching plate that tastes as great as it smells!
- Cats: They may not look like veggie-lovers, but in reality they love greens and harvest vegetables. Steamed, unseasoned broccoli becomes a great green side, while mashed pumpkin or winter squash will make a lovely antioxidant-rich treat for feline friends. Cats might turn up their noses at first, but no pet can resist the smell of the holidays in their food bowl!
- Rabbits: Carrots and baby corn and turnips, oh my! These harvest season vegetables make the perfect treat in your bunny's usual salad mixes. Bear in mind that rabbits must be gradually introduced to hearty vegetables, especially if they are more reliant on pellets or commercial feeds. There can be too much of a good thing for your rabbit pals!
- Ferrets: Ferrets are some of the least picky pets you could host at the Thanksgiving table. As long as the meats are properly cooked, you can serve your spunky companion anything from chicken and turkey to beef and Cornish hens (and even some live prey varieties). Perhaps the best and most nutritious options for Thanksgiving meals include the organs rather than the cooked meat. Provide your ferret with the heart, kidneys, and liver of your Turkey dinner to maximize food and reduce waste.
- Birds: Pumpkins, pecans, green beans, and sweet potatoes may sound like the contents of your dinner table, but these foods also make a great Thanksgiving meal for the feathered friends in your life. Not only are these foods great for developing healthy eyes, feathers, and immune systems, but they also make sure your beloved pet is enjoying the holiday season with you. Just be careful to introduce foods slowly!
No matter what your pet-friendly Thanksgiving tastes like, be sure to make it one you'll never forget.