“Don’t do it,” you shout, just as Fido clamps his jaw around a nice juicy, gravy laden, piece of the Thanksgiving feast.
“What?” a defensive Auntie M asks. “A little turkey isn’t going to hurt him. Besides, it’s Thanksgiving and we all deserve a treat or two.”
Oh, if only everyone understood that well-meaning intentions could sometimes kill.
What’s the problem?
There are many potential problems sitting around the dining room table, starting with the turkey.
- Turkey can be toxic for pets because eating it can cause pancreatitis. Actually, it is not just turkey that puts your pet at risk here. When your pet ingests foods high in fat, the pancreas tends to go into overdrive, producing and releasing high amounts of enzymes. When the pancreas stops functioning properly, the enzymes turn on the organ, causing a very painful and potentially life-threatening condition called pancreatitis. So skip the turkey, skin, gravy, mashed potatoes with butter, pumpkin pie, etc. Keep the fat away from your pet. Period.
- Bones post another threat to your dog. Poultry bones splinter easily. If swallowed, they can lodge in the throat. If they manage to pass through the throat, they can cause perforations in the intestines. Keep bones out of reach!
- The carcass of the bird combines the danger of the bones with the possibility of salmonella, which is present in the bird’s intestinal tract. While the roasting process normally kills all of the bacteria, there is always a possibility that the center of the bird just did not cook quite as well.
- Onions, a staple in stuffing, are linked to severe anemia when a dog eats too many of them. This is a serious, life-threatening condition. Don’t take a chance by thinking a little bit won’t hurt him. You never know when a little bit ends up being a little bit too much!
- Sage is another stuffing ingredient that can cause major stomach upset!
- Most people know you should never feed your dog chocolate. It causes heart racing and hyperactivity, as well as vomiting and diarrhea. If you have better plans for Black Friday then cleaning up after your dog, make sure everyone knows not to give her chocolate!
- The string used to tie the turkey legs together poses a choking hazard to your pet. Dispose of it immediately after you remove
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What’s the solution?
There are a few things you can do to avoid the possibility of having to rush out to the Emergency Vet Clinic on the holiday.
- Set Fido up in a different room during the meal. Make sure he his regular food, plenty of water and maybe a couple of treats. If he’s crate trained, put him in his crate for the duration of the meal. This will avoid the temptation to pacify those begging whines with a sampling of the turkey, stuffing or pumpkin pie!
- If you home will be a place of chaos and confusion over the holiday weekend, consider boarding your pet until your company leaves. This is especially a good idea if there will be young children there.
- Talk to your guests and explain to them why it is important that they do not feed your dog any people food. Stress how sick he could become.
- Do not leave leftovers, turkey carcass, bones, or any other enticements within reach of your unsupervised pet. Make sure trash is secured and not accessible.
Since the majority of ER pet visits over the Thanksgiving weekend are due to food-related incidents, taking extra precautions to keep your pet safe is not only prudent but financially sound as well. Treating your pet to fatty people food once a year is not the way to reward your pet for being such an awesome companion. The change in diet will surely cause intestinal upset … or worse. Let him know how thankful you are for him with a nice belly rub and an extra long walk. After all, your pet is one of your biggest blessings.