Thomas Dock, CVJ, Vet. Technician  
Male, 53
Indianapolis, IN

Interests: animals, Reading (sci-fi and fantasy)
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Nov 23, 2009 - 4 comments

thanksgiving dangers pets

First, let me say that I am thankful for each and everyone one of you who reads these journals I sporadically post and I am very thankful to MedHelp for giving us the platform to help provide education and help to pet owners in need.

It may sound like I continually harp on the "dangers" of holidays to our pets, but the sad fact of the matter is that veterinarians are often presented with numerous emergency cases and sick pets right after the holidays.  No one WANTS to spend their holiday in an emergency room (people or pet)...so, I feel it is very important to point out the potential dangers to our pets during the upcoming Thanksgiving feast.

Most of the emergency visits and sick pets presented to veterinarians during the holidays are due to the pet eating something that he or she shouldn't have eaten.  Many foods can simply upset our pets' stomachs, but others are toxic and some can cause life-threatening obstructions.  And, we know from surveys that up to 60% of us feel that it is important to "share" holiday meals with our pets.

The vast majority of us will serve some sort of turkey for the upcoming Thanksgiving day get together.  While a little bit of white meat is an acceptable treat, please avoid giving the bones or turkey skin to your pet.   Cooked poulty bones splinter very easily and can cause obstructions or perforations in the gut.  The fatty skin can cause a pet to develop pancreatitis, a very painful inflammation of the pancreas.

As we have mentioned many times in the past, don't give grapes or raisins to your dogs, avoid feeding foods that have been excessively salted or that contain onion or garlic powder, and any sweets that contain Xylitol must be kept away from our dogs.  Chocolate, of course, should be avoided.

And, this should go without saying, but our pets should never have ALCOHOL!!

Even if you are strong and avoid the temptation to give in to those begging eyes, remember that there are other places that our sneaky pets might find holiday goodies.   First, let everyone in the house know about your rules when it comes to feeding your pet.  Other holiday guests might not have your willpower.

Next, be sure that the trash and any leftovers are secured behind closed doors.  Even the items you used for preparing the meal can be dangerous.  Cats have been known to swallow the strings from turkeys and dogs, as we all know, will gobble up anything that smells like meat...dangerous or not!!

If your pets are persistent or your guests are too soft-hearted, you may need to put your four legged family members in a separate room until the meal and cleanup are complete.

Away from the table, liquid potpourri and candles can pose dangers as well.  Cats seem to enjoy some of the scented potpourri and are often inquisitive enough to try and lap up the hot oil.   This can lead to severe chemical burns of the mouth and even to fevers, trembling and difficulty breathing.

Holiday plants are more common around the Christmas holiday, but some people will bring mistletoe and holly into their gathering as a way to "start" the season.  Both mistletoe and holly can be toxic to pets and lilies, even in very small amounts, can be deadly to cats.  Poinsettias, the periennial "bad plant" is actually over-rated.  It generally only causes a mild stomach upset.

Finally, from my friends at the Pet Poison Helpline, there is a new concern over imported snowglobes.  These common decorations often contain antifreeze (ethylene glycol).  If a snowglobe gets broken, you need to keep your pets away until it is completely cleaned up.  Amounts as small as one teaspoon of antifreeze can be fatal to cats and a tablespoon or two is fatal to small dogs.  

So...I am sorry that I have to bring up these "doom and gloom" type of journal entries, but so many of these accidents and poisonings can be avoided with a little common sense and by paying attention to what our pets are doing.

I hope everyone who will be celebrating Thanksgiving this week has a safe holiday and that you get to be with the ones you love...four legged and two legged!!

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by Tammy2009, Nov 23, 2009
My two cats get their own "thanksgiving day dinner", the canned variety from Merrick.  :)  Or you could let them try "turducken" or "grammy's pot pie".  I love their names for the different foods.  

But be careful, I have one name that knows the name of each food and if you say the wrong one, she will sniff it and stare at you until you say the proper name.  Plus, if you say those words at any time of the day, she will run to her dish and sit waiting for it!

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by ginger899, Nov 23, 2009
Never mind being "doom-and-gloom" this is really helpful. I know this stuff now, but a few years ago, hadn't a clue. There will always be someone for whom this is all news. And it's really important. Thank you.

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by ptadvoc8, Nov 25, 2009
So glad for this reminder! Many years ago we returned from a post Thanksgiving dinner hike to find our rotty/lab/shepherd mix dog waddling around the room groaning with a suspiciously distended belly. We weren't sure of the problem, but he didn't look or sound too good so after some debate (it WAS a holiday, after all!) we called our Vet who, after hearing the symptoms, instructed us to meet him at the office immediately.

When we got there he told us our beloved dog had "torsion" of his stomach and was in serious condition. We were shocked and surprised never having heard of this condition despite years of owning lab mix dogs. On Thanksgiving night, that wonderful Vet spent 4 hours operating on Rufus, clearing out his stomach contents (which consisted of the elastic bands from a rump roast, an old tea towel coated with turkey grease, a huge piece of tin foil that had been wrapped about the ham, the plastic wrap and styrofoam the raw chicken meat had been packaged in, among many other assorted things the Vet said he had never seen in a dog's stomach before. The Vet also tacked the dog's tummy to something along his back to help avoid any torsion episodes in the future. Although after surgery the Vet warned us not to get our hopes us as he wasn't sure Rufus would make it, within the next two days he improved greatly, pulling through with surprising vigor and we enjoyed at 7 more long and wonderful years with him.

When we finally got home after that tense night at the Vet's, we found Rufus had somehow managed to open the bottom cupboard door where the trash bin was and apparently scarfed down anything he could find in there. He had never done anything like that before and we have no idea why he decided to go for it that night, but I can tell you we are now EXTREMELY careful about what our dogs have access, to as well as being forever grateful to that wonderful Vet!

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by PrettyKitty1, Nov 25, 2009
Great Post, Tom. I love reading your journals. Excellent reminder to all of us pet owners who love to share the Holidays with our pets. My kitties are piggies....both of them. But they know mommy means business when she says 'No'  :)

Have a happy Thanksgiving Tom :)


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