The annual Thanksgiving and holiday feasts are delicious for us, but did you know that these special gatherings can actually be harmful to your pets? It’s tempting to spoil our furry family members with treats from the dinner table or show them some love with leftover scraps, but holiday food can make your pets seriously sick.
High fat foods
High fat foods, especially the foods typically served during the holiday season, are difficult for your pet to digest. Turkey skin, turkey, and other fatty foods can trigger pancreatitis, a life-threatening condition for pets. Symptoms include decreased appetite, decreased energy, vomiting, and diarrhea, so be sure to keep your feast on the table and safely out of reach from your pets. A bland diet, medications including antibiotics and acid blockers, and intravenous fluid are the cornerstones of pancreatitis therapy.
Leftover bones are also off limits—consuming bones can be extremely damaging to both dogs and cats, and even result in death. Poultry bones are often brittle and can break into shards and damage your pet’s teeth, gums, throat, and digestive tract with trauma wounds. The grinding action of chewing on tough bones can cause dental wearing and even fracture teeth.
Bones or fragments can also become lodged in different locations. Bone segments caught in the throat can lead to choking and become life threatening very quickly. To remove the pieces, your veterinarian will use a scope or other instruments, typically while your pet is under anesthesia.
Bone fragments can also become trapped in different areas of the intestine, causing local puncture trauma. Ingesting bones can lead to an obstruction and possibly dying off of tissue from loss of blood flow. An expensive surgical repair is typically required to resolve bones trapped in the intestine, and damaged intestinal tissue may need to be removed.
Raw poultry can cause salmonella poisoning for both dogs and cats, so don’t feed your pets raw turkey or chicken, and be sure to properly dispose of any paper products that were used to clean up raw or spoiled food. Symptoms of salmonella poisoning include fever, lethargy, shock, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and dehydration, and salmonella can also be passed from pets to humans. In severe cases, treatment involves antibiotics and fluids.
Watch out for the leftover piece of string that was wrapped around your turkey, and be sure to keep it safely out of reach from your pet. Dogs and cats are often tempted by the tasty smells flowing from the kitchen and garbage can, and if your pet accidentally ingests the string from the trash, there is a significant risk of life-threatening linear foreign body obstruction.
Symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, lethargy, and even shock. A foreign body obstruction can quickly turn into a deadly situation and requires surgical removal. If any of your pet’s internal organs or intestines are damaged, intensive surgery may be required. The best way to protect your pet is by keeping a tight lid on the garbage can to discourage curious pets.
If you do want to include your pet in the celebration this season, be sure to give them a healthy, pet-friendly treat that’s made just for them. We hope you and your furry family members have a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season!