We here in the USA are about to embark on one great big huge eating fest, and for many people that will continue on for the next five days. Chances are if you celebrate Thanksgiving, or any other holiday centered around eating, you will run into a moment when you have a pet at your feet begging you for a little something something.
If you have been paying attention you will have probably run across articles and infographics on the web trying to scare you into being obnoxiously cautious when treating your pets, if not downright abstaining from giving your pet anything but commercial pet food.
I would like to tell you that some of these fears are absolutely true, and they should be heeded every single day of the year. You should always make sure that cooked bones are not accessible to your pet. You should never feed grapes or raisins to dogs. Raw yeast dough should not be fed to dogs, nor cats for that matter if for no other reason than cats are obligate carnivores and yeast doughs are not meat.
But in the past few days I've seen some pretty frightening articles telling you that your cat or dog is going to get pancreatitis if you feed them so much as a buttered piece of broccoli. Fat is not going to give a healthy cat pancreatitis.
Causes of pancreatitis include:
*Concurrent inflammatory bowel disease or liver disease. The combination of inflammatory disease of the liver, pancreas, and intestines is so common in cats that it has its own name — "triaditis." It is safe to assume that most cats diagnosed with one of these conditions have some degree of the other two as well.Could your pet come down with a case of pancreatitis if you feed it, or it consumes without your consent, a wildly inappropriate meal with gobs of fat, sure, as anything is possible. Lots of cats and dogs end up in the emergency clinics because they had dietary indiscretions, and some extreme irritation and inflammation could bring about an acute case, but unless your pet already has chronic issues, one piece of buttered veg is not* going to land your pet in the emergency room.
*Certain types of infections (e.g., toxoplasmosis or feline distemper)
*Exposure to organophosphate insecticides
We know that cooked bones are very dangerous for both cats and dogs, but uncooked bones aren't. Cats and dogs are both carnivores and are designed to eat raw meat and bone. Uncooked bones are soft and do not splinter when they are chewed. A lot of people feed wing tips and necks to cats for them to chew on for oral health. It is good for increasing jaw strength which improves dental health, and the ripping of flesh from bone and chewing bone does keep teeth clean from tartar. I feed them to my cats quite often. Many people feed them daily. Could a raw piece of bone get lodged on a tooth or could the cat swallow a too large piece of bone, yes.. and the kibble being fed could be contaminated as well.
Eggs are an excellent source of protein as well as vitamins and minerals and yes fat. A lot of people try to scare you into not feeding your cats eggs, be it they are contaminated with salmonella or ecoli or what not, or the fact that raw egg whites contain a substance that inhibits the absorption of biotin, a very important vitamin. The studies that they base this fear on were done by feeding rats just the egg white. They discount that they yolk is so rich in biotin that the chances of a biotin deficiency is incredibly low when you feed the whole egg.
One thing that you should keep in mind is that the more limited your pet's diet has been over the past year means you have a much narrower window of goodies you can share with your pet. Cats and dogs are both prone to digestive upset if you do not feed a varied diet on a regular basis and then abruptly change what they are eating. If you always feed the same brand and flavor of food, then giving your pet a plate of cooked turkey or a raw turkey wing tip will cause problems.. just as it would if you abruptly changed them to a different type of pet food.
Your best bet is to make sure your pet eats their regular meal and thus are not starving when your own meal time comes around. Slipping them a few pieces of turkey will not kill them*, and feeding them pieces of turkey that have been sitting around for a while will not give them salmonella* (remember that cats are not only predators but they are not opposed to eating any carrion they find in the wild to keep themselves alive. Their bodies are designed to handle this with a shorter digestive tract and much more acidic stomach acid than herbivores or omnivores)
Keep their treats to under 10% of their general food intake, aim for animal based treats over plant based ones, don't feed them anything you wouldn't feed to them at any other time of the year, and by all means keep your kitties away from the onions and garlic. (and tinsel and snow globes)
*I am not a vet, nor do I play one on the internet. I made several definitive statements on here, and I know I can not say that there will never be a case where giving a piece of turkey to your animal won't kill them. Maybe your cat is allergic to turkey, maybe they eat it so fast it lodges in their throat, etc. I can't say that your cat will never catch salmonella, but I can tell you they are far more likely to do so from contaminated kibble then they are from anything in your home, and I can't say for absolute certainty that your healthy cat won't get pancreatitis from eating a piece of buttered broccoli, but I'm fairly certain the chances of that are so low that the statement is ridiculous. If your cat isn't healthy, then you know full well not to give it a high fat meal because your vet told you so.