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Thanksgiving Safety

November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving is right around the corner! Let’s take a moment to think about keeping our pets safe so that we can spend the day relaxing and enjoying our time with friends and family instead of making a frantic visit to the vet clinic. (Keep in mind that this is not meant to be an all-inclusive exhaustive list, but the most commonly encountered problems to think about.)

The Gang’s All Here: If your dog is shy or fearful, a houseful of guests may be scary or overwhelming, especially if there are unfamiliar children present. Consider providing a private, quiet space with food, water, and a comfortable resting place where s/he can chill. This can be behind a baby gate, closed door, or in a crate. Sometimes it feels mean to us, but many shy dogs feel safer and prefer being out of the way of the action.

Coming and Going: All of those guests have to get in your house somehow, and if you have a pet who likes to hang around the door trying to dash out, think about ways to prevent an escape. For example, you could leash or kennel your pet or confine to a closed room until after all of your guests have arrived.

Turkey Day Food: Maybe you never thought you’d hear this from your veterinarian, but unless your pet has a food allergy or sensitive stomach, sharing small amounts of cooked turkey meat or relatively plain (not heavily salted, seasoned, or sauced) vegetables is actually ok.  But be wary of:

  1. Fatty foods: Creamy or buttery sauces, butter, turkey skin or fat, or rich desserts that are high in fat can trigger vomiting, diarrhea, or even a serious inflammation of the pancreas called pancreatitis. Stick to cooked lean cuts of meat and plain unsauced veggies.
  2. Turkey bones: Cooked bones can splinter, causing damage to the mouth or teeth, or if swallowed can cause internal damage to the stomach and intestines including a blockage or a perforation, both of which can be life threatening and require surgery. Stick to pet-appropriate chewing materials.
  3. Onions and garlic: Onions and garlic contain compounds that can damage red blood cells. Cooked onions and garlic are less concerning, but raw or dehydrated onions and garlic (such as found in instant soup mixes) can be very toxic. So keep an eye on the chip dip (dogs always want to double dip, anyway) !
  4. Raisins (and grapes): Often hidden in desserts, keep in mind that many stuffing/dressing recipes may also contain them. Although individuals seem to vary tremendously in how sensitive they are to raisins, they are known to cause kidney damage and it is best not to feed them to our pets at all.
  5. Alcohol:  Licking the mouth of your beer bottle probably isn’t the end of the world, but don’t give your pets any significant amount of alcohol. Our pets don’t understand the disorienting effects of alcohol and it can be a very distressing experience for them. It could also interact adversely with any medications your pet is taking.
  6. Nuts: For no reason We don’t know why, but a lot of cats seem to like to swallow nuts whole which can lead to intestinal blockages. Nuts contain a high amount of fat, which can lead to vomiting and diarrhea or pancreatitis. And macadamia nuts specifically are toxic to our pets. So keep your pets away from the mixed nuts.
  7. Chocolate: Dark and baking chocolate are the most toxic forms of chocolate, but any type of chocolate (except white chocolate) can be toxic if a large enough quantity is eaten. Keep an eye on the candy dish!

A little planning and supervision will go a long way towards preventing pet-related problems during Thanksgiving (and other holiday) celebrations. We wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving, and if you have any questions about any foods not included on this list please feel free to contact the clinic! We will be closed Thanksgiving Day to celebrate the holiday with our families, but will be open normal hours on Friday November 29 and Saturday November 30.

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