It’s that time a year where families all throughout the United States celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas and other festive holidays with a fresh home cooked meal. People look forward to all the favorites such as turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing, vegetables, and of course a delicious pie etc. Many times, the family pet usually sits beside the table with the “sad eyes,” expecting someone to hand out the food. Well, usually people do give their pet a Thanksgiving or Christmas treat and feel that they have to have a plate of their own consisting of all the foods that are listed above. Unfortunately, it’s not a good idea.
Some of the busiest days of the year in a veterinary practice is Thanksgiving and Christmas, and even the few following days after that. Many dogs and cats come in with digestive issues from eating too much people food during the holiday. Many individuals don’t realize how life threatening it can be to give your dog, or cat, a treat from the table. For example, many owners give their pet a turkey bone to play with, thinking it’s just like any other bone purchased from a pet store. This is false. A lot of the time, the animal will swallow the turkey bone and it will get lodged in the digestive tract causing splinters on the way down. Also, these bones have sharp edges to them and can puncture organs. In addition, this can cause severe gastrointestinal obstruction resulting in possible surgery to remove the bone. Sometimes people drop the bones by accident on the way to the garbage, not realizing that their companion scooped it up. Some symptoms that can arise is vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, decreased appetite, and weight loss. If the problem goes on without treatment, this can result in shock and/or death. If the animal is not brought to the veterinarian immediately in a situation like this, many problems may arise and it can become a fatal situation. A physical exam would be performed and most likely x-rays and blood work will be done as well.
Another holiday favorite that your pet needs to stay away from is onions. Anything that contains onions can be dangerous to your pet, especially a raw onion. It does not matter what color onion it is. It’s very toxic to them and can result in anemia and/o death. The larger the quantity, the worse it is. Sage is also an herb that people like to add to their food to season it up a bit, especially the turkey. If anything contains sage, don’t give it to your pet. It can cause an upset stomach and affect the nervous system as well.
As far as desserts go, there is no reason to give your pet any sweets. Many people enjoy cakes and pies for a holiday dessert. Just be careful that your furry friend does not find its way to satisfy his/her sweet tooth. Many desserts contain a raw egg and that can result in Salmonella in your pet. This can cause major stomach upset and food poisoning. Also avoid the sugar and any chocolate that might be around during desert time. Some people may have some healthy desserts in hand such as a fruit platter. Raisins and grapes are not a good choice. They can cause kidney failure in dogs. Also any breads or pies containing macadamia nuts are toxic as well.
So if a dog, or a cat, is giving you those sad eyes beside the dinner table, just know it’s for their own good. If anything, they can be fed a piece of cooked turkey (no bones), a lick of mashed potatoes, and/or a piece of an apple or a carrot. Those are the best choices. The whole meal itself is very high, in fat so that’s why it’s important to give your animal only a little taste or nothing at all. When a dog, or a cat, consumes a large amount of fatty foods, especially from the meats, it can lead to stomach upset resulting in pancreatitis. This can become fatal as well. It’s best to make your pet tired, by taking them for a walk etc, before the company comes over. Then they might be too tired to beg for food. Animal treats and toys are good to have in hand during the holidays so they can be occupied with that instead. Deborah DiVirgilio, a Veterinary Technician who works at East Bay Veterinary Hospital in Merrick New York, has some great advice for pet owners,
“It may be safer to board your animal at the animal hospital during the holidays. This way you can enjoy the festivities without worrying about what your pet can get into. It will be less stressful for you and less stressful for your pet,” said DiVirgilio.
Just remember to remind any guests not to give the household pet any table food. They might not know how toxic some of the food can really be. If any accidents happen, consult a veterinarian immediately. If the local animal hospital is closed, then bring the pet to the emergency clinic. Any questions or concerns can be answered by a veterinarian. Have a Happy and Safe holiday!