Thanksgiving can be a happy time for the whole family, but the holiday poses special risks to our companion animals. Here are some tips to keep you and your furry friends out of the vet’s office this holiday season.
1. Do not feed pets ham, chicken or turkey bones. As tempting as it may be to share some of the bounty with Morrissey the Persian or your pit bull Petunia, bones can be extremely dangerous to your pet. Poultry bones pose special choking hazards to pet animals, who can splinter the bones with their teeth, then get the bone fragments lodged in their throats and digestive tracts.
2. In fact, let’s skip the table scraps altogether. The bottom line, really, is that people and pets have very different dietary needs. Human food is loaded with fats and salt that your pet doesn’t need. According to Oklahoma City’s BluePearl Veterinary Group, one of the most common complaints veterinarians see around the holidays in pancreatitis, which is caused by overconsumption of rich and fatty foods.
“Many foods used in holiday cooking are not safe for animals,” said BluePearl’s website. “Onions, garlic, chocolate, raisins, grapes, macadamia nuts and raw or undercooked food can create major problems for pets. Make sure friends and family aren’t sneaking treats to your pets.”
Also, do not leave pets alone with unattended food.
Cats and dogs should never drink anything but water. Beer, wine, coffee, hot chocolate, caffeinated sodas and anything sweetened with the sugar substitute xylitol can all sicken and even kill your pet. As much as you love Marley the Maine Coon, you don’t need to get drunk together. The same goes for all human medications and drugs like marijuana. Just don’t.
3. Leave them at home. Sure, it would be fun to take the dogs to Aunt Susan’s house for the holiday, they’ll have a great time. Except, sometimes they don’t. Some dog owners will blast me for saying this because one of the great joys of dogs as companion animals is how much they love going places, whereas cats would mostly rather stay put in their own territory, thank you very much.
However, while your dog(s) may be incredibly well-trained, non-aggressive and easy around other dogs, sadly, not everyone’s dogs are like yours. Too many times I have been at gatherings where the large number of people, new physical surroundings, high amounts of stimulation and the presence of other dogs have all combined to end up in a sudden eruption of fighting between overexcited animals.
And given that other people may not have pet-proofed their houses, really, it might be best if Prince Phillip and Queen Anne the Corgis stay home this year.
4. Keep away from children. Much like Republicans, some children are noxious little sticky-faced brutes who have not yet internalized the idea that other creatures feel pain and warrant the same types of care and consideration that they do. If you’re taking your pet somewhere where unruly children are expected, make sure the wee sociopaths have had some kind of training about how not to hurt animals.
5. Watch your doors and windows. As guests arrive and leave and when packages come, pets can easily dart out of a door and run into traffic or tangle with other animals. Guests who are unfamiliar with your house’s routines could forget to close a door or randomly open a window to let air into a stuffy room and put your pet into harm’s way. As much as possible, make sure guests know what pets you have and whether they are allowed outside.
6. Stay alert. Watch for dropped food items, stray swallow-able objects like pills or ornaments, dangling electrical cords and other potential hazards in your own environment and when traveling with your pet. Make sure all waste containers — especially kitchen trash cans, which can contain food scraps — are closed and inaccessible.
Sometimes animals will find foil, plastic or other food storage items with scraps of food stuck to them, which makes them irresistible for licking and chewing. This can lead to accidental ingestion of materials that are harmful to your pet.
Website The Barking Lot has a comprehensive list of dog safety tips for the holidays including a list of safe treats and a list of foods to never, ever feed your dog.
Cat owners should be vigilant for items that can kill your pet if ingested like styrofoam, rubber bands and poinsettia leaves. For an ASPA list of 15 common household hazards for cats, go here.
So, keep your heads up and have a Happy Thanksgiving! Oh, and give your pet a smooch from us.