CVMA | Documents | Seasonal Safety Tips: Thanksgiving

Seasonal Safety Tips: Thanksgiving

October 23, 2012

Thanksgiving is a time to give “thanks” for the many things we are fortunate to have in our lives. Our feasts of turkey, ham and other delicious foods are a highlight of the holiday weekend. It is important to note, however, that while the family feasts, our pets need not do the same.

  1. Offering pets fatty leftovers from the family’s Thanksgiving dinner is a risky practice. Dogs, particularly certain smaller breed dogs, are especially susceptible to pancreatitis - an inflammation of the pancreas. The pancreas produces insulin and enzymes for digestion and when it gets irritated, serious illness results. Vomiting is a common sign of this type of digestive system disturbance. If a serious bout occurs, it can be life-threatening and may require hospital treatment.
  2. Avoid feeding sharp poultry bones to cats and dogs. A turkey bone can splinter and become lodged in the throat or further down the digestive system. Bone fragments can lacerate (cut) the delicate tissues as they move down the tract. 
  3. You should also avoid feeding raw sweet breads, giblets or necks to pets as a treat since most raw poultry and meat has bacterial contamination. This can result in diarrhea or more serious illness. People should also handle raw meats with care to avoid cross contamination.
  4. Many pets are adept at finding food on counter tops and tables, so keep your dinner out of reach. The fridge or even the microwave can serve as a secure holding area as you prepare or clean up!
  5. When disposing of your turkey, double bag the carcass and move it to a secure garbage bin immediately after the meal.
  6. If you are expecting a crowd for Thanksgiving, it may be wise to make up a special room for the pets, equipped with beds, food, water and a source of pleasant noise like a radio tuned to soft music. All of the hustle and bustle of a busy Thanksgiving dinner may be stressful for a shy pet, and a territorial pet may be unhappy with the intrusion! By restricting your pets access to company, you can also help minimize the chance that your pet will escape through an open door and get lost!

If you really want to include your pet in your Thanksgiving festivities, offer a few tidbits of the regular foods he enjoys with some extra affection. Sometimes those big brown begging eyes are hard to resist, but remember, your decision to indulge your pet may result in serious health problems!