It’s that wonderful time of the year where friends and family gather to consume large quantities of food, socialize, watch football, kids play, teenagers text and dogs hope the aroma from the kitchen is a hint of a bounty for them. Many well meaning dog lovers can’t resist the soulful eyes of the family dog begging for food so offer up some goodies. Some dogs are experienced beggars as they have learned tenacity works.
Most of the problems pets face during this holiday can be easily prevented.
Here are a few tips to make your Thanksgiving pet-friendly:
Don’t share human food with pets. Avoid sharing what’s on your Thanksgiving plate. Although it may seem mean to withhold fatty meats, turkey carcasses, gravies, or baked goods from your pets, feeding animals “people food” often results in problems ranging from mild gastrointestinal upset to severe pancreatitis and even potentially life-threatening obstructions. The fat, sugar and chocolate in baked goods can also pose serious problems. Adding a teaspoon of white turkey meat, broth, or regular canned pumpkin (Fruitables seems to be a safe pet favorite in our house!) to your pet’s food should allow you to share the Thanksgiving experience with your pet in a safe way.
Remember chocolate is toxic to animals. Cacao beans (one of the main components of chocolate) contain theobromine, which is a chemical compound that’s toxic to animals. Theobromine stimulates the central nervous system which increases heart rate and blood pressure. Theobromine can last in a dog’s system for up to 18 hours, but symptoms of toxicity usually appear within 12 hours or less. Signs of chocolate poisoning include: vomiting and diarrhea, excitement, nervousness and trembling, excessive thirst and urination, muscle spasms and seizures, coma and death. Chocolate with higher quantities of cacao is more dangerous. For example, unsweetened (baker’s) chocolate contains eight to ten times the amount of theobromine as milk chocolate.
Keep turkey bones away from dogs. Turkey bones are hollow and easily splinter into sharp pieces. The splinters can lodge in your pet’s throat or intestine or cause punctures to the intestinal tract and create blockages. They may stay lodged in your pet’s body for days before there are symptoms. Signs of serious problems may include loss of appetite, depression, vomiting or diarrhea. Sometimes bones will pass on their own, but other times, surgical removal is necessary.
Be aware of how house guests affect pets. House guests, even of the canine variety, could upset your pets. Cats may choose to hide, and dogs may become fearful or aggressive (especially around other dogs in competition of food). Consider creating a dedicated safe zone for your pets until the new sounds, smells and activities of the holiday are over.
Make sure garbage cans aren’t easily accessible. Always secure garbage cans that have food scraps and bones inside. Otherwise your pets may opt for a dumpster dive that could have dangerous consequences.
Watch out for salmonella. Undercooked turkey or turkey that has been sitting out could be infected with salmonella, a bacterial organism. The cooking process usually destroys all the organisms, making the turkey safe to eat. But if the meat sits out at room temperature for too long, the salmonella organisms can return, multiply and cause contamination. Pets may become ill if they eat any of the turkey that has been sitting out.
Check your pet’s registration and identification tags. With house guests coming and going, it’s common for doors to be accidentally left open, giving pets an opportunity to go on unsupervised adventures and get lost. I highly suggest having your pet microchipped as its permanent identification that can save their life!
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