The eight-day Jewish celebration of Hanukkah is a time to gather with friends to reflect on themes of perseverance, community, and charity. Families light candles, play games, exchange gifts, and eat traditional fried foods. Since our pets are such important parts of our family, it seems only right that we include them in our plans, but we need to be aware of the potential dangers hidden in this holiday.
Latkes, fried potato pancakes, are a standard Hanukkah dish. Potato and egg are combined with onion and garlic, fried in oil, and slathered with sour cream and/or applesauce. Fresh grated onion can cause a type of anemia in both dogs and cats. Besides onion’s toxicity, latkes are high in fat and carbohydrates which are likely to upset your pet’s digestive tract. Fried foods of any kind are not recommended for dogs.
Foil wrapped chocolate coins known as gelt are a common Hanukkah gift for kids. As chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, a dog’s overconsumption of the gelt can cause severe toxicity. Also, the metallic foil wrappers, high levels of sugar, and too much fat can all cause gastrointestinal problems, including vomiting, diarrhea, intestinal obstruction, and pancreatitis.
Chanukkah candles are lit for 8 consecutive nights in a candle holder called a menorah. Confine your pet away from the room containing lit candles, or update your Hanukkah observance by using an electric menorah. Curious cats may jump up on the table and the wag of a dog's tail can knock over the candles, so it's a good idea to never leave your menorah (or any other candles) unattended if you have cats and dogs around.
The traditional four-sided spinning top called a dreidel could cause many issues for a dog or cat who likes to chew on toys. Keep it out of the mouths of your pets to avoid a lot of worry. If your family is playing dreidel, make sure the pieces are not so small that pets might snatch one and choke on it.
Wrapping paper, ribbons, bows, and presents may be fun for your dog or cat to roll in, but it’s a scenario for potential trouble. Swallowing a piece of tape, ribbon, or even paper may cause upset stomach. Strings can be tempting for cats, but if swallowed they can cause obstructions. Gifts of food concealed by wrapping paper may be hiding as well. Keep a bag nearby to dispose of trash immediately, and warn guests to keep dog-tempting packages safe from harm.
Do you celebrate Hanukkah with your pets? Does your dog howl along when you sing Hanukkah songs? Is the cat remembered in the gift-giving? Let us know how you involve your furry kids in the celebration, and please share your memories and photos in the comments!
9 sweet potatoes (peeled and grated)
1⁄2 cup honey
3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons walnut oil
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1⁄2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400F degrees. In a large bowl, toss together the sweet potatoes, honey, ginger, walnut oil, cardamom, and pepper. Transfer to a large cast iron frying pan. Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven. Stir the potatoes to expose the pieces from the bottom of the pan. Bake for another 20 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are tender and caramelized on the outside.
Bubbe’s Famous Chicken Liver & Green Bean Biscuits
5 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups brown rice flour
1 pound chicken livers
1 can (14.5 ounces) green beans, no salt added, drained
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and either grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper. In a food processor or blender, mix chicken livers until liquidy, then add green beans. Pulse until well mixed with only small chunks remaining. Mix flours and egg then pour in chicken liver and green bean mixture. Mix dough (by hand or with a dough hook). The dough will be heavy. (If the dough is sticky, add a little more flour; if too dry, add a little water.) Make the treats one at a time: pinch off a small piece of dough, roll it into a ball, place on cookie sheet and slightly flatten with a fork. Bake treats for about 30 minutes; watch for treats to brown on the bottom. Remove from oven and allow to completely cool before refrigerating. Can be refrigerated for about two weeks.
Chanukkah catnip treats
1 4-ounce jar baby food (preferably a meaty one, unless your cat likes pumpkin or squash in which case that works too- just avoid the fruit ones)
1 cup brown rice flour
1 – 2 tablespoons tuna fish water/oil (just open a can, drain out the liquid and measure it and save the tuna for yourself!) OR 1 tablespoon wet cat food
1 tablespoon catnip
1 large egg
2 teaspoons olive oil
Preheat your oven to 325° F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment. Whisk baby food, catnip, tuna water/oil, olive oil and egg together in a medium bowl. Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon. The mixture will be thick, like cookie dough. Using a teaspoon or pastry bag, plop drops of the dough on the parchment. It won’t spread, so make them as close together and as small/large as you like. If you have a big cat or one with a large appetite, make them a little bigger. If you have a small cat or one with a small appetite, make them small. Bake for 11 minutes. Let them fully cool and then store in the jar!
Note: These recipes are for treats and not intended for daily consumption. Additionally, they should not be fed to pets with special dietary restrictions.