Building A Healthy Holiday Pet Bowl

Building A Healthy Holiday Pet Bowl

Happy Thanksgiving! What a great holiday! Family, friends, fun, and FOOD!

If we are really being honest, Thanksgiving is a holiday all about celebrating that last one, right? It can be such a fun time of year for us AND our pets. As a pet lover and veterinarian, I never want our fur babies feeling left out of the festivities, especially while we all feast on wonderful food. So today, I thought it would be fun to create a special pet bowl full of all the best Thanksgiving foods for pets and chat about the amazing health benefits whole food nutrition provides our fur babies. Let’s help our pets celebrate the holiday, too!

What health benefits can whole food nutrition provide for my pets?

Whole food nutrition is just as it reads – real food from its original source, unprocessed with no artificial additives, preservatives, or chemicals. Green leafy vegetables or high quality freeze-dried food in which the nutrients have not been destroyed in the cooking process are great examples.

Just as with humans, environment, lifestyle, and nutrition all play significant roles in your pet’s overall health and lifespan. While some of these factors are out of our hands, the choice to provide a whole food nutrition diet for your pet is not. Choosing only the best foods for our dogs and cats can be the most important choice we make for our pets’ health. Providing pets with whole food nutrition, with no artificial additives, preservatives, or chemicals, leads to greater health and wellness, fewer cases of obesity, decreased occurrences of diseases such as diabetes, and longer lifespans.

According to a Purdue University Study, simply changing just 25% of your dog’s meal with real food, like green leafy vegetables or a high quality freeze dried food, may DECREASE the risk of cancer by up to 90%.

What is Traditional Eastern Food Therapy?


Food is classified as hot, warm, neutral, cool, or cold according to the effects it has on the body. For instance, chilis are hot and warm the body, whereas watermelon is a cooling ingredient and cools down the body.


According to Eastern food therapy, the flavor of food is either salty, sour, bitter, sweet, or pungent and provides different responses to the body accordingly. For instance, salty food drains the body of excess fluid, whereas sweet ingredients provide moisture.

Route of Action

Lastly, food is described by the route of action, or its preference for an organ. For instance, walnuts are known to benefit the lungs, while almonds nourish the the kidneys.

Food is Medicine

As a small animal veterinarian, I see many pets with skin disease, allergies, gastrointestinal disease, and respiratory disease. Using Eastern food therapy, I now incorporate diet into my treatment regimens. Using specific ingredients, I help heal each individual pet with their unique ailments.

The Perfect Holiday Meal – Thanksgiving Foods for Pets

Now that we see how food nourishes and heals your pets, let’s create the perfect Thanksgiving Day Bowl to help your pets celebrate Thanksgiving with you this year!


Turkey is an excellent source of highly digestible, lean protein. It is also a complete protein, meaning it contains all essential amino acids. It is moisturizing to the body.

Sweet Potato

The amino acids in sweet potatoes help maintain healthy, strong, and lean muscles and boost antioxidant activity. They also are high in fiber to aid digestion. Sweet potatoes have a neutral inherent temperature.

Green Beans

Green beans are full of important vitamins and minerals, such as protein, iron, calcium, and vitamins B6, A, C, and K. They are also full of fiber and low in calories, which can help dogs feel full when they are dieting. They are a neutral ingredient that improves digestion by helping to improve kidney function and energy.


Cranberries provide antioxidants and natural acidic properties that may support urinary tract health. It’s also a better antioxidant than Vitamin E, strengthens blood vessels, improves oxygen delivery, contains fiber, improves bladder health (by not allowing bacteria to adhere to bladder walls), reduces the occurrence of Struvite crystals, and helps with bad breath. These guys are cooling.


Apples are sweet and COOLING. They are rich in Vitamin C as well as a host of other unique antioxidant and botanical compounds, such as flavonoids. Apples provide soluble and insoluble fiber, some vitamin C, beta carotene, potassium, and boron. They also promote the secretion of body fluids and moisten the lungs, relieve restlessness, and stimulate appetite.


Celery, often found in Thanksgiving stuffing, is very low in fat and cholesterol. It’s also an excellent source of fiber, folate, potassium, manganese, and vitamins A, B1,B2, B6, C, and K. The crunchy veggie also may freshen up your dog’s breath.

Celery increases urine production, which helps flush toxins from the body. It doesn’t lose nutrients when cooked like many other foods do. Celery juice can help dogs with arthritis or joint pain. It is a COOLING food.


Pumpkin is great for digestive issues in dogs. It can help remedy diarrhea, but it’s also good for relieving constipation in dogs. Dogs with IBS or those requiring a bland diet may benefit from adding pumpkin to their food on a regular basis.

Also, pumpkins contain a lot of fiber while being low in calories, fat, and cholesterol. They contain a good amount of beta-carotene along with magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, and vitamins A and C.

Pumpkin seeds contain plant-based, omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants along with other beneficial nutrients, such as magnesium, manganese, copper, and zinc. Studies show promising results linking pumpkin seeds to improved insulin regulation and urinary health (prevention of kidney stones) and to reduce inflammation.

Pumpkin can also help manage your dog’s weight by adding bulk and fiber without extra calories. The extra fiber means your dog will feel more full while eating fewer calories and getting additional health benefits.

Final Thoughts on Thanksgiving Foods for Pets

While there are foods you should never feed your pets, there are plenty of

human foods that do a lot of good for your fur babies! If you are considering feeding your pet whole food nutrition regularly, I recommend Side By Side Pet Food . Side By Side Pet Food is a whole food based diet that sources the highest quality ingredients. The food is cooked at the lowest temperature and for the shortest amount of time so that it does not lose the inherent nutrients from the ingredients.

Side By Side Pet Food does not use any artificial additives, preservatives, colorings, or nutrients added onto the diet. All the nutrients are derived from the inherent ingredients. It meets all of the requirements required by AAFCO for complete and balanced recipes. AAFCO-approved diets have been tested. They provide a healthy and balanced diet with all the proper minerals, nutrients, and vitamins needed for your pet. And, each of the Side by Side diets are designed to be unique temperatures and their proprietary pet assessment helps you determine whether your dog is warm, cool or neutral so you’re feeding your pet the right diet to keep them in balance. Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you and your pets have a wonderful holiday. Have fun making these healthy Thanksgiving foods for pets! Celebrate every day with your fur babies by providing them with the best and healthiest diet you can

Dr. Alison Birken

Dr. Alison Birken is a small animal veterinarian in Ft. Lauderdale Florida. She owns Victoria Animal Hospital, is the co-founder of Forever Freckled, wife to her amazing husband Rob, mom to her 3 greatest accomplishments Luke, Leah & Hayden and dog mom to her Saint Bernard Dory

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