Our pets know how to work us and tug on our heartstrings. It's hard to resist those wide eyes and that soft whine or a dog who sits up and begs at the Thanksgiving table plaintively. Cats know how to earn sympathy (and handouts) too. They weave around the table legs and make hungry mews when they smell the turkey being carved.
Unfortunately, too much human food is bad for pets. Once they learn to beg, they risk obesity if we give in and feed them at the table regularly. Also, some of the spices and other ingredients in Thanksgiving dishes could make your dog or cat sick.
You might say, "But it's a holiday! Surely a little bit of turkey won't hurt." That's true, but your dog or cat won't forget that you gave in once and will try tomorrow...and the next day...and the next.
Instead of sharing part of the human Thanksgiving feast with your pet, serve up special goodies meant for dogs and cats instead. This list has several ideas for keeping canines and felines occupied while you and your family enjoy your holiday dinner.
Dogs love treats, but they tend to gulp them down. Put their goodies in a Kong treat dispenser toy to slow them down.
Kong makes a variety of durable dog toys, but the treat dispensers are among the most popular. They're good for everything from keeping a nervous dog busy to reducing separation anxiety when you leave home to stimulating your pet's mind and fighting obesity by making fewer treats go a longer way.
When you set the table, give your dog a loaded Kong toy and let him work on that rather than begging for turkey. You may have to crate him or put him in another room, since human food is usually more appealing than dog treats, but the toy will give him something to do while he's on his own.
Nylabone chews are great to distract dogs because they come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and styles. You can find a Nylabone for every type of canine, from a puppy to a toy-sized dog to a massive Great Dane.
If you want a chew toy that does double duty, select a Nylabone made for dental health. It removes tartar from her teath and helps make her breath smell fresher.
Nylabones are durable and long lasting, so they'll keep your dog occupied for the length of the holiday meal. Just hand one out to your canine companion before everyone gathers 'round the table, and that should distract her from begging.
Like dogs, cats enjoy treats, and goodies for felines come in a wide variety of flavors and textures. You can get crunchy treats, chewy treats, and even stuffed yummies with an outer shell and soft center.
You may need to confine your cats to keep them from begging at the table. Scatter cat treats around the room and, instead of pining and meowing at the door, they'll be busy with a treasure hunt.
Nothing distracts a cat more quickly than a fresh catnip toy. Not all felines are reactive to catnip, but the vast majority turn into crazy, frolicking kittens when they sniff this herb.
Buy some new catnip toys and save them for Thanksgiving Day. Hand them out before you sit down to dinner, and your kitties will be in an herb-induced ecstasy.
Cats love grass, but many pet owners (including myself) keep their cats strictly indoors to protect them from cars, dogs, and other dangers.
I like to bring a little of the outdoors inside for my indoor kitties, and one of my favorite ways to do it is to get them a container of live, growing greens, like Pet Greens Live Pet Grass. I buy it fresh at pet stores, although you can also buy kits to grow your own.
Serve up cat grass for your felines on Thanksgiving and they'll happily graze rather than looking for turkey at the table. I find that my cats are most enthusiastic about live grass when they haven't had it for a while, so I usually buy them a container once a month.
If you have small animals, like guinea pigs, they might like some fresh pet grass as a treat too.