A feast for furry friends that will put a lid on Thanksgiving vet calls

December 1, 2014

If love translates to food, Americans are loving their pets to death.

Sharing your Thanksgiving feast with Fido is fraught with danger for you and your wallet, said veterinarian Jules Benson.

"Emergency vet bills average about $620 per visit on any given day. That increases over the Thanksgiving holiday — from Thursday through Sunday — to over $1,500," said Benson, vice president of Veterinary Services for Petplan Pet Insurance.

Feeding your dog a diet rich in fat, including turkey skin and juices, can upset an animal’s digestive system and lead to acute pancreatitis.

"We see in dogs that get a very fat-rich meal that they’re not used to, the pancreas goes into overdrive and it basically, because the pancreas handles all the digestive enzymes, gets inflamed and almost starts to digest itself. It’s very, very painful and very dangerous," Benson said.

Adding in the extra sugar consumed over the holidays is no better for pets than it is for people, he said.

"Everyone should forget about Ebola; it’s all the sugar that we’re eating that is killing us," Benson said.

For pet parents who insist on "sharing the love" this Thanksgiving, Petplan veterinary nutritionists have developed a safe and healthful five-course alternative to take the worry out of the holiday for you, your pet and your wallet.

Earlier this month, the Beacon Journal created a Thanksgiving feast for some four-legged friends using recipes provided for Petplan by Dr. Ernie Ward, founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.

Ward, and other contributing veterinarians who regularly use the ingredients in their medical practices, tweaked them a bit using traditional Thanksgiving fare.

Our guests, pack mates that walk together most mornings, arrived for dinner wearing traditional Thanksgiving pilgrim hats and Native American headdresses, and quietly sat waiting for the signal to "dig in."

Turkey medallions (or rounds, in our case) and sweet potato cookies quickly disappeared from plates, but pumpkin smoothies and the peanut butter crudites were also a hit.

Jackson Township holistic veterinarian Dr. Pamela Fisher checked out the menu for us and gave it a thumbs up.

"The recipes look healthy and are a good alternative to help avoid digestive problems. I do recommend almond butter instead of peanut butter as a healthier alternative," Fisher said.

Clean plates were the best indication that the meal was an unqualified success, accentuated only by a loud burp from Aspen, one of two miniature schnauzers that enjoyed the feast with our two Jack Russell terrier guests.

Except for the crudites and cookies, all menu items are safe for cats, too.

Cocktail hour shouldn’t be an excuse to exclude your socially well-adjusted pet. While alcohol is a no-no, this creamy pumpkin drink, packed with fiber and digestion-friendly probiotics is a great ice breaker. Make ahead and freeze.

Pumpkin smoothies

½ cup canned pumpkin puree

½ cup plain nonfat yogurt

Place pumpkin and yogurt in a blender and blend on high until smooth. Evenly pour mixture into 8 small paper cups. Either refrigerate or freeze overnight, or serve right away. Yields: 8 servings; calories per smoothie: 13

These savory hors d’oeuvres are fit for furry friends. Try these easy ap-paw-tizers for a crispy, crunchy first course.

Paws-itively peanuty crudites

8 baby carrots

8 apple slices

8 celery sticks (no longer than 4 inches)

Natural unsalted creamy peanut butter

Spread peanut butter onto each carrot, apple and celery stick and arrange on a small plate. Let pets sample one of each treat. Yields: 8 servings; calories per serving: 122

Give pets a chance to clear their palates with this refreshing, frozen snack. Prepare the night before.

Simple sorbet

Ice cube tray

Diced banana, carrot, apple or blueberries

Water (or for cats, meat broth)

Fill tray about half full with water. Add banana, carrot, apple or blueberries and freeze. For feline friends, simply fill the tray with meat broth and freeze. Yields: 14 servings; calories per treat: 5-9

We used turkey cutlets to avoid rich, fatty infused turkey straight from the bird. Make ahead to create these mouth-watering morsels and refrigerate. Reheat slightly in microwave so pets can partake during dinner.

Roasted turkey

Rounds 6 oz. white meat turkey

½ cup chopped carrots

½ cup ground quinoa or oatmeal

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place turkey and carrots in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add ground quinoa or oatmeal and blend until mixed. Roll into 1-inch balls and place on a nonstick cooking sheet. Bake 15 minutes. Yields: 30 servings; calories per medallion: 17

Boost your dog’s beta carotene and give him a punch of potassium in this alternative to sugary sweet desserts. These cookies are a healthful coda to Thanksgiving dinner.

Scrumptious sweet potato cookies

1 large cooked sweet potato

1 banana

½ cup quinoa flour

½ tablespoon vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium-size bowl, mix the sweet potato and banana until well blended. Add the vegetable oil, then mix in the quinoa flour. Drop dough by the teaspoon onto a nonstick baking sheet and lightly flatten each cookie. Bake for 30 minutes and let cool before serving.

Yields: 8 servings; calories per cookie: 14.4




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