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Holiday foods you can — and can’t — share with your pets

Pet parents know that feeding from the table isn’t the best everyday idea…but it’s hard to resist indulging in a holiday season exception. In case you want to bend the rules this Thanksgiving, here’s a crash course in what foods you can sneak your dog or cat — and what you should steer clear of for their safety.

All in moderation

It’s always best to follow a less-is-more approach to people food. Stick with a small portion of whatever you choose to give them — a little taste does the trick with far less risk of irritating their stomachs. It also helps to keep it to just one or two foods, rather than the full spread, as it’s all likely unfamiliar to your pet’s diet.

The good

Lucky for your pet, there are a number of holiday staples featuring ingredients they can safely enjoy. Keep in mind, however, that it’s best to avoid giving them sugary or fatty foods, so skip a dish if it’s made with butter, sugar…or topped with marshmallows.

  • Turkey: This lean meat makes for a great treat, as long as you remove the skin (too fatty!) and check to make sure there are no bones, big or small, which can get stuck. If your turkey was cooked with any onion or garlic, don’t risk it, as those ingredients are pet no-nos.
  • Potatoes or sweet potatoes: While the traditional accoutrements can skew these dishes too rich for pets, you can always set aside a few pieces as you prep — after they’re cooked but before the final ingredients are added. If you know your pet can handle dairy, then a tiny bite of mashed potatoes is all right.
  • Green beans or carrots: These nutrient-packed veggies are good year-round options, but just as with potatoes, grab them before they’re seasoned — and avoid entirely if the green beans are already topped with fried onions.
  • Pumpkin: Think puree, not the pie filling that comes with added sugar and spices. This seasonal favorite is a pet food all-star with many benefits, especially for their digestion. Apples are another fall staple perfect for dogs (and their breath!), as long as the skin and core are removed.

If your menu planning allows, avoid the table-scrap temptation altogether by whipping up a quick batch of pumpkin peanut butter treats just for them — you can find a slew of easy recipes online, including ones with just three ingredients or no-bake options if your oven is already claimed. Or grab a festive treat or toy from the store so they can share in the spirit, risk-free.

The bad

Too much unfamiliar, fatty or sugary foods can upset your pet’s stomach or inflame the pancreas — and a few ingredients are toxic to animals, including those common in stuffing and gravy.

Never feed your pet:

  • Alliums (onion, garlic, leeks and scallions)
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Chocolate
  • Xylitol artificial sweetener (sugar-free marshmallows sometimes use this)
  • Hops or alcohol
  • Macadamia nuts

Since you know better than anyone just how persuasive your pet can be, give your guests a friendly reminder not to give into their A-game begging without asking first.

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