There has never been a time in my life when I’ve not dramatically underestimated people’s passion for anthropomorphizing the animals that live with them. Because of this failing, which friends have remarked upon as suspiciously un-American, I did not fully realize that people actually believe they are depriving their tiny dog by not giving it its own piece of pie on Thanksgiving. Do not do this. This is bad.
People put all kinds of weird human stuff in pet food these days, like vegetables and whole grains, and they digest it fine even if they don’t need, say, quinoa. But holiday foods are a whole different thing and can be quite dangerous, which seems like the sort of thing common sense would dictate, but maybe isn’t at this point in history.
(If you are weirdly rushed but also for some reason taking the time to read about what cranberry sauce will do to a labradoodle, the short list of stuff to absolutely never give your dog is as follows: raisins and grapes, avocado, garlic, onions, and, of course, chocolate.)
For the most part, it’s not actually foods themselves that make the dogs sick; they get sick from simply ingesting large quantities of something their bodies aren’t used to just as people do when they eat a new or particularly rich food.
“The day after Thanksgiving is the busiest day at the vet hospital,” explains Jill Elliot, an assistant veterinarian at West Village Veterinary Hospital. “Dogs come in for vomiting and diarrhea, mostly because of the table scraps. There’s nothing wrong with giving a dog a little turkey, that’s not going to kill them. But [people are] giving them the stuffing and the sausages and the cranberries and all these things that are not normally in their diet.”
If you must give your dog something, stick with the stuff that contains as few ingredients as possible. Plain turkey and vegetables — green beans, peas, carrots — are fine. Cornbread stuffing with sausage and raisins and, I dunno, marshmallow fluff — not fine. Apple slice — fine. Wedge of salted caramel apple pie — really not fine, though I still don’t even understand why people would waste that business on their dog anyway. It’s not like they know what they’re missing. And keep in mind that a bite or two might not hurt your 60-lb bulldog, but will lay up your quivering little 7-lb yapper with a rather devastating case of the shits.
It’s also important to remember that turkey spoils faster than you think, and that while you might think that’s the right time to turn it over to your pets, you should never ever feed them spoiled stuff. They will get sick, same as you.
Because we at Inverse take our journalism very seriously, I also spent 36 minutes listening to the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line tell me “My Call Was Important To Them” to see if people ever bother them about how to appropriately prepare turkey for a dog.
They said they don’t really get those kinds of calls.