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Thanksgiving Pet Safety

Posted 11.17.17 by Christine Taylor, DVM

It’s finally November, which means that magical holiday known as Thanksgiving (or the “Feast of Side Dishes”, as my family likes to call it), is coming up quickly. While Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday that brings together family and friends to celebrate the many blessings in our lives, the day after Thanksgiving can be a very busy day for most veterinary hospitals. All too often, well-meaning pet owners and their family members decide that their pets, too, should participate in the feasting, which makes for a lot of sick patients in the immediate days following this holiday. Below are some tips for keeping your pets safe during this Thanksgiving holiday.

Potential toxin risks

  • Keep the feast on the table — and NOT underneath it. For instance, the skin from the turkey, while very appealing to our pets, can cause a life-threatening condition in our pets known as pancreatitis. In addition, many common ingredients found in Thanksgiving dishes are very toxic to our pets – including onions, raisins and grapes. If you would like to give your pet a special treat this holiday, we advise baking pet-safe treats, or purchasing pet-safe treats especially for them.
  • No pie or other desserts for your pet. Chocolate is very toxic to pets, even though many dogs (and humans) find it super tempting. In addition, the artificial sweetener called xylitol — commonly found in chewing gum and sugar-free baked goods — can also be very toxic to dogs and cats.
  • Yeast dough can cause potentially dangerous bloating if ingested, yet dogs seem to love to eat it.
  • Be sure to keep trash out of your pet’s reach. Be sure to dispose of turkey carcasses and bones — and for that matter, anything used to wrap or tie the meat, such as strings, bags and packaging — in a covered, tightly secured trash bag placed in a closed trash bin outdoors (or behind a closed door).
  • Certain decorative plants can also pose a threat to your pet, as some flowers and festive plants are toxic to our pets. The ASPCA offers a complete list of toxic plants, but the safest route is to keep your pets away from all plants and table decorations.
  • If you believe your pet has ingested something potentially toxic, immediately contact you local emergency veterinary hospital for advice. You may also want to call the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline at 1-888-426-4435. Signs of distress in your pet are as follows: sudden changes in behavior, depression, lethargy, pain, diarrhea or vomiting.

Precautions for Parties

If you are hosting a holiday party in your home, or having overnight guests, be sure to remember your pet in your plans to keep them safe and make the experience less stressful for them.

  • Having visitors can be stressful for your pets. Some pets become anxious or excitable around new people, and holiday parties often bring many visitors at once and higher-than-usual noise and activity levels. Make sure that your pets have a quiet, calm place they can escape to when they are feeling overwhelmed. Provide them with a favorite toy to keep them occupied. This will reduce the emotional stress on your pet, and protect your guests from possible injury. If your pet is particularly upset by houseguests, be sure to talk to your veterinarian about possible solutions.
  • Feliway diffusers can be a great way to keep your feline pets calm and happy in stressful environments. Feliway is a feline-appeasing pheromone that is clinically proven to reduce the stress level in cats and keep them calm.
  • Many exotic pets are at increased risk for stress during parties, and should be kept separate from the festivities. Birds can become deathly ill when Teflon cookware is used in the home, and should be removed from the home when this type of cooking utensil is used.
  • Monitor the exits. Even if your pets are typically quite comfortable entertaining guests, make sure that you watch them closely as guests are entering or leaving your home. Holidays are a common time of the year for pets to sneak out the door while people are distracted by the festivities, and become lost.
  • Update identification tags and microchip registry information. Ensure that your pet is equipped with the proper identification, and that the contact information is current and correct. It is very common for people to forget to update their microchip registry information when they move or change their phone number. If your pet isn’t microchipped, talk to your veterinarian about the benefits of this simple, oftentimes life-saving procedure.
  • Never leave a pet alone with a lit candle. It could result in a house fire. Also be advised that pine cones, pine needles, and other decorations can cause life-threatening intestinal obstructions or perforations requiring emergency surgery if ingested.

Dr. Christie Taylor

The Pet Hospitals– Lakeland

The staff of The Pet Hospitals would like to wish your family and pets a safe, and wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.  While our offices will be closed for November 23rd, we will resume normal business hours on Friday, November 24th.

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