Make no bones about it—Thanksgiving is almost here, and preparations for the largest meal of the year are in full force. All things turkey and pumpkin will soon fill our homes with the irresistible smells of the season. Holiday celebrations wouldn’t be complete without our four-legged companions; however, pet dangers can lurk in the most common Thanksgiving traditions. Ensure your furry friends are safe this Thanksgiving by following these guidelines from Animal Emergency Hospital and Urgent Care. 

Fatty foods are not our pets’ friends

Turkey with all the trimmings, candied yams, and pecan pies are only some of the delicious foods that grace our Thanksgiving tables. It’s no wonder that our pets find these dishes irresistible, especially if they are in paws’ reach. But, fatty foods, such as turkey skin, fried turkey, and other marinated meats are hard for pets to digest and can lead to various gastrointestinal problems, including pancreatitis, which is an inflammatory condition that often requires overnight hospital care, and can be life-threatening. Clinical signs include vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. 

In addition to turkey, many other Thanksgiving foods and ingredients are surprisingly toxic or harmful. Always refrain from sharing the following with your pets:

  • Onions — Onion ingestion can be life-threatening and result in anemia and red blood cell breakdown. Clinical signs include panting, high heart rate, and blood in the urine.
  • Raisins and grapes — The toxic dose for an individual animal is unknown, and as little as one raisin or grape can possibly cause toxicity and kidney failure. Clinical signs can occur up to two hours after ingestion, and include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, tremors, and excess urination.
  • Yeast rolls — While most cooked breads are safe, eating unbaked yeast rolls or bread can result in painful gas or, in severe cases, intestinal bloating.
  • Turkey bones — Pets have difficulty digesting turkey bones, which can damage the intestines, and may lead to gastrointestinal blockage. Stick to pet-safe chew bones.  
  • Corn cobs — Most pets easily digest cooked corn kernels, but corn cobs are a different story. Cobs are difficult to chew, and can result in dogs swallowing them whole, leading to gastrointestinal blockage or tears.
  • Sage spices and herbs — Stuffing and other premade holiday foods often contain sage, various herbs, and other essential oils and resins, which can be especially toxic to cats, and result in gastrointestinal upset or central nervous system depression. 
  • Chocolate — All chocolate, especially dark and baker’s chocolate, contains methylxanthine stimulants, specifically caffeine and theobromine, which can be deadly to dogs. Clinical signs include vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, elevated heart rate, and possible death.
  • Sugar-free treats — Many sugar-free foods contain the sweetener xylitol, which can be toxic to dogs in only small amounts, and result in liver failure, seizures, and death in some cases. 

Presenting your pet with a new toy or animal-safe treat during the festivities is a great way to ensure they don’t feel left out of the Thanksgiving feast. It’s also a good way to keep them distracted from all the tempting smells. Always remember to keep garbage out of pets’ reach, and never leave pets unattended when human food and treats are visible.  

Use caution with pets and candles

Candles and twinkling lights add the perfect touch to a decorated home, but always keep burning candles out of reach from curious cats or wagging tails to prevent burned paws or singed fur. Additionally, scented candles, potpourri, and diffusers often contain essential oils that may be toxic to pets, especially cats, young dogs, and dogs with liver disease. Essential oils can be absorbed both by inhalation or through the skin. Toxicity severity is variable, depending on the amount and type of essential oil exposure. Clinical signs include coughing, difficulty breathing, panting, seizures, and in some cases, death. Check your potpourri and candles to ensure they do not contain any essential oils, including the following that are known to be toxic:

  • Wintergreen oil
  • Oil of sweet birch
  • Citrus oil
  • Pine oil
  • Ylang Ylang oil
  • Peppermint oil
  • Cinnamon oil
  • Pennyroyal oil
  • Clove oil
  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Tea tree oil

Prepare pets for the party

You can easily get distracted and caught up in the chaos of preparing a large meal, whether your family gathering is large or small. If your pet sneaks next door to check on the neighbors’ feast, ensure they are always wearing an identifiable collar or tag, and that their microchip is current with up-to-date contact information. Before the day of marathon cooking and eating, set up a designated area or crate where your pet can safely enjoy their own Thanksgiving celebration. Providing soft music and presenting your pet with a new toy or treat can decrease their stress, and distract from loud music, conversation, and tempting toxic treats. 

Animal Emergency Hospital and Urgent Care staff are thankful we can be here for all your emergent pet care needs. If your pet is experiencing problems after ingesting a toxic  Thanksgiving ingredient, or you have any immediate concerns, call our office anytime— we are always open.