The holidays are often filled with gatherings of family and friends, usually around a food-laden table. Since many of us pet parents consider our canine companions to be four-legged family members, it’s only natural that we’d want to share tidbits (or even larger portions) of our holiday meals with them — or at least let them lick our plates clean. To keep everyone’s holidays merry and bright, however, we need to resist the temptation to “treat” our pets with holiday table scraps. That’s especially true for dogs with sensitive stomachs.
The problem with holiday “people” foods
Your dog may adore wolfing down scraps of rich, fatty foods such as the fat trimmed from meat or the skin from roasted turkey, but such a snack can lead to digestive problems ranging from nausea, vomiting and diarrhea to pancreatitis. Pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas, the organ that produces enzymes that digest food and insulin that controls blood sugar, becomes inflamed. Symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, appetite loss, decreased activity or sluggishness, and mild to severe abdominal pain.
While not all table foods will trigger an episode of pancreatitis, they may still cause an upset stomach (and could lead to poor table manners such as begging). If you know your dog has a sensitive stomach, you’ll want to avoid offering any table scraps — even potentially “safe” ones like turkey breast (no skin or gravy) or plain green beans (no butter or seasonings) — altogether. Be sure all of your guests understand they aren’t to sneak a treat under the holiday table to your dog no matter how sad those big brown eyes look.
Alternatives to holiday feast treats
There are still plenty of ways to include your four-legged family member in the holiday festivities without treating him or her to pieces of your holiday feast.
- Consider keeping special, healthy, low-calorie treats handy so that your dog can be satisfied with a special tidbit. Treats specifically formulated for dogs with sensitive stomachs and food allergies are available, so be sure to ask your veterinarian which one would be appropriate for your dog. Keep some of these pet-approved treats handy for your guests to share instead of tasty morsels from their plates.
- Buy your dog a new toy that they will go gaga over. If you don’t already have a food puzzle, consider getting one that you can fill with their special sensitive-stomach dog food. Not only will they get treats when they work the puzzle, but they also may be distracted away from your food table.
- Spend some quality one-on-one time with your dog. Probably the best treat of all for your dog is extra time with you. A long walk (weather permitting) or an extra session of fetch or tag may be the best gift you can give your four-footed furry friend.