It's Thanksgiving - can I feed some table scraps to my pet just this one time?
The short answer is "no". It is always best to stick to your pet's usual dietary regime for optimal health. If your pet eats table scraps on a regular basis, a few holiday dinner table scraps shouldn't be any different if quantities and fat content are the same as the daily routine. For a pet who does not eat table scraps, a sudden dietary change may cause diarrhea, vomiting, or in more severe cases, pancreatitis. Bones are also NOT a good idea -- cooked bones are brittle, and may cause gastrointestinal bleeding, foreign body intestinal obstruction, or rectal bleeding, in addition to vomiting and / or diarrhea.
But my pet is part of the family! Is there anything I can add to their dinner?
Here are some safer alternatives to the tempting fat, bones, and gravy commonly seen around the holidays. Please remember - everything in moderation! Just because these are 'safer', they should not be fed in great quantities to replace the normal diet!
Raw carrots - many dogs love them, and they are great for teeth.
Broths - beef, turkey, chicken broths are a great no-fat flavor enhancer for your pet's regular meal.
Cooked vegetables - cooked carrots, potatoes, and other vegetables are OK to give your pet in small amounts.
-- One note: corn is a common food allergen, so if your pet has a sensitive stomach, stay away from corn. -- Also do not give your pet onions, as they can have harmful effects. Read more about onions.
Cottage cheese - my dogs love a spoonful of low-fat cottage cheese! This is a nice bland food that adds flavor, but doesn't upset their stomach.
What about other treats, like rawhides or pig's ears?
All I can say is: "give these types of treats at your own risk". I used to give my pets the occasional rawhide treat (knotted bone or rawhide strip), but only while they were supervised. Not a good idea to give these types of treats then leave your pet alone. I have seen many dogs gulp off a large piece only to cough, panic, and try to get it back out.
Some years ago, after reading about the possible pesticides in the rawhide and the loads of preservatives to make the rawhide treats, I opted not to give these treats anymore to my pets anymore! Plus, some dogs are definitely more sensitive, and diarrhea and vomiting are potential side effects.
Finally, the "holiday rawhides"... the red and green dyed rawhides shaped into various holiday items, are even worse, in my opinion! Dogs do not need all of that dye, and it just makes a mess on the carpets. Something to think about before getting a gift for your pet or your friend or family member's pets!