Dear Dr. John,
With two kids in college and one of their friends coming home and with a new Labrador Retriever puppy in the house, what precautions do we need to take with Thanksgiving foods with the dog? He likes to get into all kinds of things and will eat just about anything! I have read that a little bit of turkey and stuffing can be safe to give to them. Are there other foods that might also be OK to give to the pup? I wonder if I also need to hide the garbage as he has knocked it over a few times already to get into things. J.F.
Having a puppy makes it that more important to be careful and watchful of what they might ingest. Too many puppies and even adult dogs end up in emergency facilities during or just after Thanksgiving due to the ingestion of foods that have caused problems.
One might see vomiting, diarrhea, choking on bones, pancreatitis, kidney issues, anemia, bloat, and more. Be sure to put the garbage in an inaccessible place so the smells of food scraps in there will not tempt him and lead to him knocking it over and eating whatever he finds. Do not leave foods on low tables where the dog might grab them. I speak from personal experience. Labs are more notorious than many breeds for eating just about anything.
Make sure that your children and guests understand the risks and caution them against giving the dog scraps or treats on their own. Too often, a dog will play up to each person to get food from them and added all together can lead to problems. You can give him a small amount of plain unseasoned turkey, pumpkin, sweet potato, or plain vegetables such as green beans. Be sure to avoid any turkey bones, turkey skin and gravy which are very fatty, and stuffing especially if it has onions, raisins, or a lot of garlic in it. Dark turkey meat is more fatty than white meat so stick to the white meat, while ham is too salty and is not a good idea to give to a dog. Sweets such as cranberry sauce, pies, chocolates, and most rich desserts should also be avoided. Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!
Dr. John de Jong owns and operates the Boston Mobile Veterinary Clinic. He can be reached at 781-899-9994