Norton: Thanksgiving leftoverers could be toxic for your pet (letter)
A lot of Thanksgiving traditions revolve around food. But our pets should not eat the holiday meal.
Thanksgiving dinner has a lot of rich and fatty foods, such as turkey skin, pan drippings and gravy. In pets, these can cause vomiting and diarrhea. The worst case scenario for a pet that gets into fatty foods is a problem called pancreatitis. This is an inflammation of the pancreas, and it can be life threatening. Signs of pancreatitis are lethargy, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea.
Some of our foods are actually toxic to pets, such as onions, grapes, raisins, xylitol and chocolate. Onions affect cats more than dogs, but, in both species, it can damage red blood cells. Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs. Xylitol is found in sugar-free products and can cause a life threatening drop in blood sugar. Chocolate is toxic to both cats and dogs. Dogs are more likely to eat enough chocolate to cause symptoms.
Another hazard is toothpicks, strings or skewers that were used to cook a turkey. Dogs tend to eat first and ask questions later, so they might eat something that is not digestible. In that case, it may require surgery to retrieve the foreign item.
Cooked poultry bones are really dangerous to pets. They splinter when they are chewed. The sharp pieces of bone can perforate though the wall of the stomach or intestines and cause infection in the abdomen. This is life threatening and will require surgery to remove the bone pieces and clean up the infection.
If you want to treat your pet, safe food items are a small amount of skinless turkey or some unbuttered green beans or carrots.
It may be safest to remove temptations for your pet by having him crated or gated so that he doesn’t have access to food. That will also keep each of your family members from giving your pet “just a little treat.”
Be sure that garbage cans are secure or out of reach when they contain leftovers from your meal.
If you have any questions about your pet’s health, please contact your veterinarian.
The holiday message is: stuff your turkey, not your pet!
Dr. Gretchen Norton
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