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Family dog is on the guest list for holiday dinner

SUE MANNING, Associated Press

Publication: The Day

Published December 23. 2012 4:00AM

The most prized holiday guests are those that eat with gusto and lick their plates clean.

So what if some of them eat off the floor and never help with the dishes?

At Nancy Guberti's house, Flower, a 6-year-old black-and-white shih tzu, will eat the same organic turkey and spinach as Guberti's sons.

"She's part of the family and she's such a good dog," Guberti said. "We treat her with the utmost respect, like you'd want to be treated."

Guberti, a nutritionist in New York City, makes a special dinner for the whole family to share five times a year - Christmas, New Year's, Easter, Thanksgiving and Flower's June 10 birthday.

Plenty of people cook for their dogs year-round, but the holidays might be the easiest time because menus can be easily adapted to their needs, said Sarah Zorn, a New York pet columnist.

"Do unto your dog as you are doing to yourself," she said. Ingredients that are good for humans are often good for dogs too, she said.

Dogs have millions of taste buds, said Dr. Katy Nelson. But the veterinarian said those taste buds are not really well defined - and neither is the dog's sense of smell.

Nelson, who hosts "The Pet Show" on News Channel 8 in Washington, D.C., had guests who made turkey cakes she plans to make for Papi, her Labradoodle, on Christmas.

How would you fix a traditional holiday dinner of turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, biscuits and dessert to serve dogs and humans? No matter how spicy the human food is, the dog's has to be bland and low-fat.

When it comes to preparing the turkey, go saltless, she said. Eliminate onions and garlic, white flour, refined sugars and processed foods. That doesn't mean you can't put anything in the dog's meal. "There are actually a lot of herbs that are good for dogs. Parsley is good for them - it's a natural breath freshener. Ginger is good for digestion and turmeric is good.

Zorn also drew up a quick nice-naughty dog food list.

Bad: Chocolate, coffee, alcohol, raisins and grapes, onions and garlic, milk, avocado, macadamia nuts and yeast. Cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower can cause gas but are OK in small doses. Tomatoes, eggplant and peppers aren't dangerous but add nothing good to a dog's diet.

Good: Lean meats, fish, tuna, olive oil, eggs, egg shells, yogurt, carrots, green beans, peas, sweet potatoes and pumpkin.

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