Thanksgiving is a time for family gathering, and is the beginning of the holiday season. Enjoy the holidays with your pets, but beware of these hidden dangers so that you don’t spend your holidays at your veterinary hospital.
Foods too fatty or spicy can cause vomiting, abdominal pain and, for some, pancreatitis, which can be expensive to treat and life-threatening. Your pet is not accustomed to rich foods, gravies, and spices, and some of these foods can cause serious harm. Pets should not eat the fatty skin on turkey. Tryptophan in the meat can make your pet sleepy. Poultry bones can splinter and pierce your pet’s intestines, causing peritonitis, while larger pieces can cause blockages, which often require surgery. Uncooked meat can cause food poisoning from salmonella or E.coli. Cats love to play with string – and to eat it! Beware of the string that ties the turkey. Once a cat starts swallowing a string, it’s anatomy makes it difficult to stop. It can form a blockage or literally cut through the intestine. Should you find a string protruding from your pet’s anus, NEVER pull it out. This must be treated by an experienced veterinarian who will be able to tell if the string can be coaxed out or if surgery will be required to remove it safely so that the intestine is not severed.
You might think a small potato chip with a little dip is harmless. Did you know that onions and garlic, found in many dips, are highly toxic in cats? They can cause gastrointestinal upset and even anemia. Flowers make a beautiful hostess gift, but if any part of a lily plant comes in contact with a cat, it takes only three days for the cat to go into kidney failure. Even if the cat only sniffs a flower, bulb or pollen, then licks his nose, kidney failure is likely. Symptoms are weakness, lethargy, vomiting, and loss of appetite.
Desserts are yummy, but of course not good for pets. Remember that chocolate and some artificial sweeteners are highly toxic to all pets, and can be life threatening. If your pet eats chocolate, be able to tell your veterinarian how much he ate, and whether it was dark chocolate. One ounce of dark chocolate can kill a sixty pound dog.
If your pet has vomiting, diarrhea, or stops eating, be sure to check with your veterinarian and be prepared to let him know what your pet has eaten. Although this seems like a lot of bad news, the good news is that now you are aware and can prevent harm to your pet. Enjoy the whole family this Thanksgiving!
By Dr. Joanne Healey