In my years of working as a veterinary technician, I began to notice a trend happening around the holidays: An increase in the number of intestinal upset cases, intestinal blockage and pancreatitis. This happens, largely in that with so much going on in the house during the holidays, it becomes hard to keep track of who is giving what to the dog! It was so often explained in the clinic that, so and so gave the dog some ham, or a bone… or basically something the dog should not have had. To try to avoid this, explain to all of your guests what is and is not allowed to be given to your dog.
First off, I would just like to state that really the best thing for your pet is to keep it on its regular diet, no matter what. Many times, offering something new can cause vomiting or diarrhea, or both. But if you do choose to indulge your doggie here are some basic guidelines:
~Offer small bits of well cooked, skinless turkey and make sure it is boneless. Undercooked turkey may contain salmonella which may cause intestinal upset. Any little bone fragments can become lodged and potentially cause a blockage in the intestinal tract. Also, the skin of the turkey is high in fat content and may be a potential catalyst of pancreatitis, inflammation of the pancreas, which is painful and requires veterinary assistance.
~Also, if you choose to offer small bits of turkey or sweet potato give only small amounts and mix with their regular food. This provides the same concept as when switching foods. You are adding a small amount of new ingredients to the food that are already accustomed to, resulting in less of a change of intestinal upset.
~Try to avoid stuffing, as it often contains onions, which may lead to anemia in dogs.
~No raw bread dough. I have personally never heard of anyone feeding their dog raw dough, however it was listed on a site, so I want to mention it. Once ingested, the body heat from the animal can cause the raw dough to rise in the stomach, causing severe intestinal upset and bloating. Bloating is an emergency condition which requires immediate veterinary action and surgery.
~Raw eggs. As a child, I used to be guilty of this myself: allowing the dog or cat to lick the bowl I used to beat eggs in. A big no no! Raw egg can contain salmonella bacteria causing vomiting and diarrhea.
~No pork products, cooked or not. Pork is high in fat and is a leading cause of pancreatitis.
~You can try feeding your dog before guests arrive, to try to decrease begging behavior.
~A well exercised dog is a peaceful dog. Try taking them for an extended walk or provide them with some good exercise so they are more calm when your guests arrive.
~Try offering your dog a stuffed treat when you go to sit down for dinner. They will be more preoccupied with their “proper” treat and less likely to be given any “under-the-table” food scraps. Use Nylabones, doggie chews or even a Kong toy, stuffed with a little bit of dog food and sweet potato.
~Consider having a restricted area for your dog, so he/she is not mingling with your guests. This way you reduce the odds of someone handing their snack to your dog.
~At the end of the night, be sure your leftovers are sealed and properly put away. And be sure your garbage is pet proof! All the smells in that garbage can are an enticing motivator for your pet to go digging. Spraying some vinegar in the trash can help mask the odors and make it less enticing to your pet.