Veterinarian column: Recipes for healthy Thanksgiving dinners for dogs |

Veterinarian column: Recipes for healthy Thanksgiving dinners for dogs

Carrie Turner
Special to the Tribune
A dog enjoying eating a piece of cake.
Getty Images/iStockphoto | iStockphoto

As you and your entire family sit around the dinner table this Thanksgiving, you may be tempted to invite the dog or cat to join you. Thanksgiving is all about sharing, but if you think Max and Paws might like just a taste of buttery mashed potatoes and gravy, think again!

It’s hard to say no to those big brown eyes, but you should. Pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas, can occur in dogs and in cats for several reasons, including obesity, some types of drugs, trauma, or infection. Often the cause of pancreatitis is unknown, but the role of fatty foods in causing this problem is suspected in dogs.

The job of the pancreas is to pour out enzymes that digest fats, starches, and proteins. Normally those digestive enzymes are stored in little packets, and eating triggers their release into the small intestines. But when something sets off inflammation, digestive enzymes are released within the pancreas itself, so that the pancreas starts to digest itself.

So what are some safe things to give your dog or cat from the table? You may be surprised to learn that your pet may enjoy a bowl of leafy greens like spinach or romaine, sliced steamed vegetables like zucchini, green beans and butternut squash (hold the butter!), or simple grains like barley and quinoa. These food are lean, safe and delicious while adding important nutrients that may be lacking in dog foods.

Still thinking about ladling a little gravy on Max’s Thanksgiving dog chow? Things that typically cause problems for pets this time of year include the giblets, bones, skin, dark meat, sausage and cured meats, pie and dessert, potatoes and butter-coated vegetables, gravy and stuffing.

Signs of pancreatitis in dogs are vomiting, diarrhea, depression, and not eating. To diagnose the problem, a veterinarian will need to take blood and may do an abdominal ultrasound and other tests.

Treatment means trying to rest the pancreas — hospitalization, intravenous fluids, and lots of supportive care. Acupuncture and herbal medicine can help control the nausea and discomfort. And reevaluating nutrition can help prevent future episodes.

So give thanks for great pets and give them a walk instead of your feast. If Max runs off with the Butterball, be on the lookout for of signs of pancreatitis, and call your local veterinarian.


1 cup sautéed ground low fat Turkey (not pre-seasoned)

1 cup steamed or gently boiled Squash – butternut, pumpkin, etc.

1 cup cooked quinoa

½ – 1 cup cooked green beans, zucchini, spinach, chard, broccoli, etc. chopped and steamed (choose one or mix several)

Salt to taste

Season with ½ teaspoon oregano

Directions: Cook all ingredients, mix together, and serve! This recipe make approximately 4 cups of food which would feed a 50 pound dog for one day.

*Use caution with any diet change. Sometimes strange food and sudden diet changes can change the bacterial flora of a dog or cat’s gut, which can lead to diarrhea and vomiting. This recipe is not complete and balanced and is not suitable for long term feeding.


32 ounces frozen yogurt

6 capsules probiotics

4 ounces canned or cooked pumpkin

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons raw honey

Direction: Mix in blender, pour into ice cube trays and freeze

Dr. Turner is a veterinarian at Heal Integrative Veterinary Medicine in Stateline. Besides all the usual vet stuff, her toolbox also includes acupuncture, herbal medicine, fresh food therapy and canine rehabilitation. She can be reached at or 775-580-6062.

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