Thanksgiving time is upon us and whether you're having tofurkey or free-range turkey your dog or cat will likely be begging for a sample or two. Even though it may be tempting to give in to those pleading eyes and wagging tail, there are a few things you should know before doing so. Traditional holiday foods can be dangerous and potentially deadly to pets but if you follow this short safety guide, both you and your pet will be more than thankful this year.
Bones - Small cooked bones from turkey or other meat sources can become lodged in the throat, stomach, or intestinal tract or break into splinters, causing extensive damage to the stomach and gastrointestinal tract if swallowed, even puncturing the small intestine.
Raw or undercooked turkey - may contain deadly salmonella bacteria, even if your dog or cat is used to a raw diet.
Batter – When raw bread dough combines with the body heat of your pet, it can cause the dough to rise inside the stomach, producing severe abdominal pain and bloating leading to more serious complications requiring surgery. Moreover, the batter used in cakes and pies usually contains raw eggs, which may have salmonella bacteria as well.
Fatty foods - Rich, fatty foods such as turkey skin, gravy and dark turkey meat are often difficult to digest which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in your dog, and in extreme cases, pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). If you notice your dog or cat showing signs of vomiting, loss of appetite, fever, diarrhea or lethargy, please do not wait to contact your veterinarian.
Onions and Garlic - These ingredients contain sulfides, which are very toxic to animals and can cause the destruction of red blood cells, especially in cats.
Sage - Commonly used as flavoring during this holiday, this well-known herb as well as many other herbs, contain essential oils and resins that can cause gastrointestinal upset and central nervous system depression to pets, especially in cats.
Raisins and Grapes - They are not only a choking hazard to smaller animals, but ingestion of either can cause significant kidney damage.
Walnuts and Macadamia Nuts - These can cause weakness, depression, incoordination, and tremors. In addition, the high-fat levels of these nuts may cause pancreatitis in dogs, resulting in severe vomiting and diarrhea.
Chocolate - In general, the darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more poisonous it is. The chemicals in chocolate that are dangerous or even fatal are methylxanthines, which are similar to caffeine and more heavily concentrated in the darker varieties we often see as being advertised with a high percentage of cocoa.
Mushrooms - These can produce damage to a number of internal organs, including kidneys, liver, and the central nervous system, which can result in seizure, coma and sometimes death.
Candy - Many contain Xylitol, an artificial sweetener that can cause a severe drop in blood glucose in dogs; in fact, 30 minutes after ingestion dogs could exhibit signs of depression, loss of coordination and seizures. Xylitol may also lead to delayed onset damage to the liver occurring days to weeks after ingestion. Xylitol toxicity in pets may be fatal and requires immediate medical attention.
Beer and alcohol - Alcohol, especially the hops in beer, can be particularly harmful to dogs, causing intoxication, panting, fever, racing heart, liver damage, even coma, seizures, and death.
When planning your holiday feast, it’s also a good idea to make sure that you properly dispose of any wrappings such as aluminum foil and plastic wrap that your dog may find rummaging through the yummy smelling trash. If you know that your furry four-legged friend is a scavenger, distract him with a safe made-for-pet chew bone or indulge him with a few cooked pieces of meat and safe vegetables inside a Kong toy. After all, pets are part of the family; they deserve a Thanksgiving treat too!