Holiday Homemade Food and Treats

Holiday “Treats” For Sharing:

(Be mindful of how they are prepared!

See “Do Not Feed” list.)

  • Sweet potato
  • Celery
  • Kale, spinach, collard green, mustard greens
  • Cabbage, brussel sprouts
  • Tomatoes (fully ripe)
  • Mushrooms
  • Green beans and peas (when they’re cooked)
  • Any edible berry
  • Any kind of melon
  • Apples
  • Oranges, lemons, and limes
  • Pears
  • Bananas
  • Pineapple
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • All types of squash (pumpkin, zucchini, acorn, butternut)
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Cucumbers
  • Asparagus
  • Chicken, turkey, lamb, beef, pork, venison, rabbit
  • Eggs, plain yogurt, low-sodium cottage cheese, cheese (in moderation)

"Do Not Feed" Foods:

  • Chocolate – especially baking and dark chocolates (toxic)
  • Onions (toxic)
  • Xylitol (artificial sweetener in gum, candy, cough drops, some peanut butters, some formulas of
  • Benadryl, etc.) (toxic)
  • Raw yams (toxic to dogs and cats; however raw sweet potato is different and is ok)
  • Avocado – plant, skin, pit (toxic); ripe flesh (high fat, may cause gastrointestinal upset or pancreatitis in
  • sufficient quantities)
  • Alcohol, caffeinated drinks, and stimulant drinks like Red Bull (toxic)
  • Grapes and raisins (toxic)
  • Macadamia nuts (toxic)
  • Baking powder, baking soda, large quantities of nutmeg spice (toxic)
  • Persimmon, peach, or plum seeds (any “stone fruit” pits - these contain cyanide, but the flesh is fine)
  • Bones that splinter, like cooked chicken legs, pork chop bones, or steak bones
  • Raw egg white without the yolk (this disrupts the absorption of B Vitamins)
  • Raw non-High Pressure Pasteurized (HPP) trout, salmon, shad, sturgeon (these could carry a parasite
  • that causes illness)
  • Raw bread or yeast doughs and even large amounts of baked bread (can cause excess gas, stomach
  • swelling, and bloat)
  • Any food high in salt content (excessive salt can lead too “salt poisoning”)
  • High sugar foods (irritating/disruptive to the gut and gut microbiome, negative effect on blood sugar and
  • insulin)
  • Fatty foods, cooked fats, high trans-fat content, gristle, seasoned skin and trimmings (gastric upset,
  • pancreatitis)
  • Spicy foods (gastrointestinal upset)

 

 

As we head into the Holiday Season, it’s a good time to take a few minutes to review some steps to keep our pets happy and healthy through nutrition. What you feed your pet daily for meals and snacks will determine the quality of his or her health and can promote a longer life. Dogs and cats are carnivores. Their digestive systems do not operate efficiently on highly processed foods or grain-rich diets. Keep in mind when choosing or preparing snacks and meals for your pet it is thought that diets consisting of processed foods, grain-rich foods, and high carbohydrate foods can eventually lead to the problems so many pet owners face: dogs and cats suffering from obesity, arthritis, gastric challenges, diabetes, allergies, itching, poor coats, ear and urinary tract infections, irritable bowel syndrome, poor appetites, diarrhea, constipation, excessive grass eating, and skeletal problems. In addition, the simple practice of adding probiotics/enzymes and nutritional supplements to a healthful feeding regimen can help prevent or address many of these health issues.

 

It is not uncommon for veterinarians to see a sharp increase in cases of pancreatitis, gastroenteritis, and bloat in the days following those holidays with traditional large meals, but it can happen at any time. The problem is not usually the fact that the dogs or cats ate “people food”, but rather the way the food has been prepared and the portions that we tend to feed them. Turkey meat and steamed vegetables are as healthful for our dogs and cats as they are for us, whereas the high-fat and high-salt scraps like turkey skin, gravy, ham, or deadly cooked bones, cause innumerable problems. Gastroenteritis and acute pancreatitis are often a result of animals eating cooked high-fat meals from unaccustomed origin, or in excessive quantities. Consuming cooked bones can result in gastroenteritis, gut obstruction, or even gut perforation. We are definitely not opposed to sharing the bounties of the table, but do be sure you are selecting the most healthful and simplest portions of the meal. Also, stay alert to potential hazards away from the dog bowl. “Counter Surfers” and trash can raiders are constantly lurking in the shadows. If your dog does sneak past your guard, a good dose of concentrated probiotics and/or a product to counteract gas and bloat is a great first aid treatment, and then watch your dog closely for any signs of distress. Excessive drooling, heavy panting, trying to vomit but cannot, abdominal distention, and arching of the back all are indicators that it is time to go to the vet - quickly!

 

On the subject of probiotics and enzymes, questions come up quite a bit, so hopefully this explanation will help sort out some of the confusion. Animal-derived digestive enzymes, such as those used in pancreatic enzyme replacement therapies (which should only be used at the recommendation and under the supervision of a veterinarian) are extracted from the pancreas of other mammals, most commonly porcine/pigs, and directly replace enzymes the dog should be producing but for one reason or another is not. Most probiotic and digestive enzyme products are plant- and fungal-derived, and thus are not recognized by the dog’s body as enzymes, so they will not compete with or influence the production of the body’s own enzymes. These supplemental enzymes and probiotics simply aid in digestion of foodstuffs and molecules for which the dog does not have the evolutionary ability to make its own enzymes, and they also aid in digestion of foods which have been altered due to processing, such as the cooking process most commercial dog foods undergo to keep them stable in the bag for months or years. In wild situations dogs would obtain these probiotics and enzymes from the digestive tracts of their prey, buried fermented meat and bone, animal dung, and any fresh fruits or plants they consume. As many of the methods dogs prefer to use to get their probiotics and enzymes are not available or frowned upon in civilized society, it is our job as their caretakers to provide them supplementally with what nature intended for optimal biological function.

 

Good nutrition, whether you have two legs or four, is essential. The parallels between increasingly processed diets and disease are alarming in humans as well as in our companion animals. Fresh wholesome ingredients are key in both circumstances! A little time spent focusing on our pets’ diets can save a lot of time, frustration, and expense.

 

 

Authored by Alison, Morgan, and Deborah Betts

The Betts are owner/operators of A Better Way Pet Care - a family-owned business, serving the AV for almost 20 years. They are dedicated to improving nutrition and health for dogs, cats, and horses, with a focus on nutritional supplements; raw, bagged, and canned foods; and a large selection of care products.  Combined, Deborah, Morgan, and Alison have over 75 years of experience in the animal science, veterinary, and medical fields. In addition to their nutritional health experience, they also raise, train, and show dogs and horses.