By Dr. Christina Weckesser
As we approach the holiday season, our minds leave reality and start following so many different directions. We start focusing on decorating the house, planning holiday dinners and entertaining our friends and family with our best Pinterest-inspired table settings and side dishes. During all of this activity, our pets tend to take a back seat to all of the planning. But, the holiday season is actually a very dangerous time for our pets. Many household items are hazardous to your pet and without your supervision, your pet could end up at the vet, which is not where you were hoping to spend your holiday. Here are a few valuable tips to keep your pets safe through this year’s Thanksgiving feast.
Most animal emergency visits are due to acute vomiting and/or diarrhea. We all want to enjoy the Thanksgiving feast we have prepared for ourselves and so do our pets! That’s why they are sitting closest to the one person at the table that might drop something or hand out a freebie. Feeding high-fat foods such as turkey skin, turkey gravy, and even some pies can cause severe, acute pancreatitis (painful inflammation of the pancreas). The first clinical sign is vomiting and not wanting to eat. Your pet may be standing in a strange position or may not seem comfortable. Another portion of the turkey that can cause your pet trouble is the bones. Poultry bones, especially cooked, have the potential to break off into sharp shards that could cause a tear in the digestive tract or, if consumed in large amounts, could cause a blockage. These situations are painful, life-threatening and not easily treated. If you absolutely have to share your meal with your pet, try a more acceptable treat, such as a small amount of white turkey meat or some steamed vegetables.
Please let your guests know if your pet has food allergies. One bite of turkey can cause a food-allergic dog to start intensely itching. If your guests need to feed your dog, try hypoallergenic dog treats or keep the dog confined for mealtime. Other foods to generally avoid include grapes and raisins, excessively salty foods, foods flavored with onion or garlic powder, and desserts and sweets containing xylitol or chocolate.
Let’s not forget our kitty cats! Although they may not act like our dogs, salivating at the cutting board, don’t count them out of the mischief. The information above applies to cats as well but more importantly, the string used to tie the turkey legs together is very attractive to your cats. The string is really fun to play with and also tastes great because it is covered in turkey grease! String ingestion can cause a linear foreign body (a foreign object in the shape of a line; thread, string, ribbon, etc.) if it gets stuck at any point in the digestive tract. This will cause your cat to vomit, become lethargic and not want to eat. This can be painful and life-threatening and may even require emergency surgery.
Now that we have kept our pets safe during the meal, let’s keep them safe during clean up. All leftovers should be secured in the refrigerator or behind a pet-proof door. Also, remember to keep your trash cans secured as well. Any leftovers or foil wrappers that smell like food can be dangerous if ingested. Please keep your veterinarian’s number and the ASPCA poison control hotline nearby (www.aspca.com). One quick phone call can give life-saving advice or help you avoid a trip to the vet!
Wishing you and your pets a very happy, healthy and safe Thanksgiving and holiday season!
Thank you for choosing us to be part of your pet’s healthcare team!
With warmest regards,
Your friends at Rhinebeck Animal Hospital