The smell of roasting poultry is great for warming homes and hearts during the dark winter months. A chicken or turkey dinner isn’t always just a special treat for the humans of a household, either. Poultry giblets–also great for grossing out younger siblings, if you’re into that–are a seasonal favorite of many beloved pets. These treats are high in protein and, if you’ve taken care to choose a natural bird to feed your family, free from preservatives and harmful chemicals. As with any pet treats, however, wise pet owners take care to feed them in the safest way possible for their pets.
The liver of any animal is one treat you should be careful in feeding to your pets. This organ is very high in Vitamin A, and your pet gets plenty of in its daily kibbble! A little liver here and there is a tasty treat, but too much of it can lead to a vitamin imbalance and diarrhea. Gizzards and hearts, on the other hand, are muscle meats–your kids may draw a very sharp distinction between the luscious dark meat of a turkey thigh and the “creepy” meat of its heart, but your pets will be happy to treat the two kinds of meat just the same!
There is some debate in the veterinary community over whether fresh meat should be fed to pets raw or cooked. Cooking is the best way to kill salmonella bacteria, which can easily contaminate any surface which comes into contact with raw meat. Although many pet owners have fed their pets raw meat for years without experiencing a food-borne illness in the household, salmonella can pose a grave danger to high-risk individuals. Small children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems are all at a high risk for food poisoning. If you live with people who are at a higher risk, cooking meat before feeding it to pets may be the best way to prevent the spread of these dangerous bacteria to people who get sick easily.
One last thing to be aware of when feeding giblets to pets is their sensitivity to a high-fat diet. Pancreatitis cases in pets spike around the holidays, and part of the reason is a dramatic increase in fat in some pets’ diets. Pets who are overweight already may benefit from low fat pet treats as an alternative to raw meat.
A hearty meal of roasted poultry can liven up even the most dull and dreary of winter days. Paying attention to these guidelines will ensure that your pets can also safely enjoy this tasty dinner.