As you gather around the table this Thanksgiving and give thanks for good food, good friends and even your cranky family members, don't forget the furry or feathery member of the family -- your pet. Of course, a pet doesn't need a toast in its honor to feel appreciated, but a special treat would probably elicit an extra lick or cuddle from your best four-legged friend. Just remember that the holidays aren't an excuse to break from tradition and serve your pet chocolate or other foods that might upset its sensitive stomach. However, there are some terrific Thanksgiving treats that are perfectly pet-safe and guaranteed to make your critter feel extra-thankful for such a thoughtful pet parent. Here are just five.
5. Fruits and Veggies
Not all pets can eat meat, including most pocket pets like gerbils, hamsters, rats and birds. Many people love these small pets, but often overlook them when it comes to holiday treats. Pocket pets can have small treats occasionally, but according to the educational staff at Drs. Foster and Smith, they tend to like treats better than real food, so it's best to dish them out sparingly. In general, raw vegetables like carrots and broccoli are OK to give a small rodent, so when you're preparing your Thanksgiving meal, save a few pieces for your pet. Pet birds also love fresh veggies and fruits, including cooked sweet potatoes and cranberries, which are both common staples on many Thanksgiving tables. Cooked vegetables like pumpkins, sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans, and peas are terrific options for cats and dogs, too.
4. Bones and Chews
It might be tempting to toss a turkey bone your dog's way during the holiday, but according to L.A. Animal Services, turkey bones can easily break, and the sharp splinters could cause damage to your dog's intestines. If your pooch goes nuts for bones, look for store-bought bones or chews in special Thanksgiving flavors that will be a real treat without the risk. Pet trend expert Janet McCulley recommends turkey-flavored bones, or even organic dog chews made out of sweet potatoes or apples. Make no bones about it, you will be thankful your canine has a yummy Thanksgiving treat without the threat of a visit to the emergency animal hospital.
3. Turkey Treats
If you like a traditional feast with a big turkey as the main dish, your pet is in luck. There are quite a few ways you can prepare some of your leftover turkey that will be paw-licking good. Be sure to remove any skin and bones and don't serve your pet any turkey that's been sitting out longer than two hours to avoid risk of salmonella poisoning. Skinless, boneless turkey is a great treat for most cats and dogs. Cut up a few pieces and add it to your dog's regular food to give it its own Thanksgiving meal. For cats, try pureeing turkey with sweet potatoes or pumpkin and adding it to their regular food or letting them lick it straight from the spoon. And if you've ever wondered what to do with turkey giblets, try boiling them up for a yummy pet treat.
2. Biscuits and Other Treats
If you aren't up for making your own treats or don't have any leftovers, you can find a large variety of treats available at pet superstores or even your local market that will leave your pet feeling gracious. McCulley says ingredients like pomegranate, acai berry and quinoa, which have been fads in people food for the past few years, are now crossing over into pet treats. Look for items that are made with human-grade ingredients to ensure your furry friend is getting the very best. Many organic treats are made with natural ingredients such as pumpkin, sweet potato, and apple with ginger or cinnamon for a fun Thanksgiving twist.
If your pet is on a restricted diet or doesn't usually handle new food well, pick out a toy that your animal will go gaga for. Consider a squeaky toy shaped like a turkey bone or a carrot. Some retailers carry "pampered pet" lines, in which you'll find toys shaped like wine bottles or sushi (if turkey and all the fixings isn't your thing). McCulley recommends interactive toys that dispense treats as a great way to keep your pet occupied while you're entertaining human guests. By the time your furry friend has gotten all of the kibble out of the toy, you'll be cleaning off the table and ready to spend the afternoon curled up in a turkey-induced coma with your pet.
Some one-on-one time like this is probably the best treat of all for your pet, but any of these five ideas can also help make sure your pet is a grateful gobbler this Thanksgiving.