Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving, From the Elka Almanac!

I missed out on Tasty Tuesday, and this is too many words for Wordless Wednesday but, you know? I'm probably taking Thanksgiving off. So there you have it.

Last year, Target had these lovely dog toy "bundles" that mimicked a holiday meal. I had friends in Albany pick one up for Elka, but never gave it to her, for whatever reason (okay, plush + Doberman = short lived, and it's just so cute!) But, today, I'm going to be a nerd and use it to illustrate human holiday meals and what they can mean for our dogs!

So, we have a decent and stereotypical Holiday spread here (Thanksgiving or Christmas, really), sans dessert.

Depending on what you feed your dog, you may already give her quite a lot in the way of grains, as illustrated by the dinner roll. Unless it's supposed to be a hot cross bun, in which case we do have dessert. If baking bread or rolls on Thanksgiving, make sure your dog doesn't ingest any raw yeast dough, which can expand in her stomach and cause pain and gastric distress. The potato isn't so bad, really, depending on quantity (and whether it's loaded with butter). A lot of people who feed their dogs grain free, but still go commercial, end up with a fish and potato brand.

Next we have the veggies: Corn and either broccoli or asparagus. Again, depending on what you feed your dog, she may eat a lot of corn. I mean lots and lots. In fact, if interested, you might hop over to Dog Food Analysis and check out how your dog's kibble measures up. It has its own "star" rating, but also includes why foods receive the scores that they do, and list ingredients. Corn on the cob may or may not be a choking hazard, and if you decide to give it to your dog, do so only with supervision and make sure very large pieces don't get swallowed to cause stomach upset later. Broccoli is all right, as long as it doesn't exceed 10% of your dog's daily diet; apparently there's a thing called "broccoli toxicity", with stomach upset starting at the 10% mark and the 25% mark having a possibility for fatality. That sounds pretty scary, and I'm going to try to find some peer reviewed sources to verify that at another time. Asparagus I'm less familiar with, but my understanding is that in large amounts, it can cause upset stomach (are we sensing a theme?)

And now, the star of dinner, turkey! Turkey itself is a fairly lean meat. The problem here is its "add-ons". NEVER feed your dog cooked bones, poultry or otherwise. NEVER. They have a high chance of splintering and perforating organs and other necessary things. My understanding is that folks who feed raw will give RAW, whole turkey to dogs and those bones are all right, but if you decide to feed raw, make sure to do your research and discuss with an animal nutritionist so that you know about the calcium-phosphorus ratios and all that good stuff. Turkey skin, in excess, can cause pancreatitis, the symptoms of which are things like vomiting, and in extreme severity can require hospitalization. You can read more about that here, as I'm already getting rather wordy, but feel it's important to highlight these things.

Then, dinner's over. Do you run out and play right away? Well, no. Most humans, after gorging themselves on Thanksgiving dinner, roll themselves to a chair or couch and watch football, or engage in long rambling conversations. For a dog, true exertion close to a meal can cause bloat, a swelling of the stomach caused by gas and such, that may involve torsion, and certainly involves an operation to the tune of $1500 or so, and even then, depending on how early it is caught, the chances of survival may not be so great. This is a video of a dog bloating, an Akita, not a Doberman. It's good education, on the sort of things to look for in a dog, but also pretty heartbreaking. The dog lived, so you know ahead of time. The "plate" that Elka's toy pack came on is a Frisbee (well, a Flying Disk), which I thought was very clever!

When confronted with her plate of Holiday Goodies, Elka wasn't really sure what to make of them. She was interested, certainly, but the whole package was a mystery.

Eventually, I took pity on her, and extricated the corn.

Eventually, the turkey followed suit. Elka really dug the turkey; it was interestingly shaped and textured, and the drumsticks are ropes! Elka loves ropes.

She had to make sure she wasn't missing out on anything, of course.

And, because I'm a meanie, I only let her play with them for a little while, so that they last longer than five minutes. The squeakers in them are actually rather hard (perhaps because they've cured for a year?) and don't squeak at the slightest touch, which is optimal for Elka, and poor for the survivability of the toys.

Have a safe and happy holiday, everybody!


  1. What a great post! The broccoli toxicity thing is a true story, though as a canine nutritionist, I feel compelled to put the idea out there that no one food should make up more than 10% of your pet's diet. We are huge advocates of a varied diet here and e hate to see dog's eating large amounts of anything. Doing so creates a real risk of creating a vitamin excess or a vitamin deficiency. Everything (well, almost everything) in moderation! Wishing you and Elka a very Happy Thanksgiving!!

  2. Thanks for weighing in! It's definitely appreciated; I'm not any kind of nutritionist! Thanks for the wishes, and right back at you!

  3. Looks like a fun package - thanks for the info. Justus has been barred from trying the "try me" toys at my friend's pet products store. He destroyed two within minutes (on different visits) but I got great photos of him sitting VERY attentively while the shop girl held the squeeky from one :). Have a great Thanksgiving!. Elka was having fun, eh?

  4. Oh, my goodness! That toy is awesome, but great job using it to illustrate your message! I struggle with my dad every year because he thinks that the dogs should each get their very own Thanksgiving plate! Some of the stuff is okay, of course, but not everything and NOT in his huge quantities. I think I'm going to send him this link to help sway him... Happy Thanksgiving!!

  5. @Roberta I just don't know what people who make dog toys are thinking! So many toys are truly cool or adorable, but I know will just be garbage in 30 minutes or less. As a result, most of Elka's toys are rubber, and the plush ones are used, supervised in 5 minute increments and then go live on top of the fridge.

    @Maggie Thanks, I thought i was being dreadfully clever! Of what I made for dinner Elka 1. Couldn't have either cranberry relish. Too much sugar in the canned, an orange in the homemade. I did give her a couple of cranberries just to roll around and eat! 2. Turkey bones (obviously) and she did have some skin, but not a whole lot. I just didn't give her olive oil today on her food the way I normally would and 3. stuffing, because of the onions. Hope this helped!

    Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

  6. Those toys are too cute! Hope you had a nice Thanksgiving! :)

  7. I love the Thanksgiving dinner toys. They'd be perfect if you knew your guests would be bringing their pup to the celebration. I hope Elka has fun with them, even if it does mean the toys will meet their end.

  8. This was a fabulous post - both educational and entertaining. It's like that spoonful of sugar for hard facts. :)

    And thank you for both the warning and the 'he lives' disclaimer re: the bloat video. I'm still not sure I'll watch it but at least now I don't have to watch it with my eyes half-closed if I do decide to. ;)

    PS - not sure if you've heard of Go Dog toys with ChewGuard but they are plush toys that are not as easy to destroy as pretty much anything else... http://www.godogfun.com/products_chewguard Bella is a very serious chewer who can shred most plush toys in a matter of moments and she has yet to destroy the little dragon I bought her a year or so ago. Just an option...

  9. What an awesome toy!

    Happy Late Thanksgiving!

    Stop on by for a visit

  10. Those toys are absolutely adorable! I love how you integrated food facts with the toys, very clever and helpful! Thanks for the dog food analysis link! It definitely has some good info!