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Seasonal Safety: Thanksgiving Tips for Pet Owners

Make sure your Thanksgiving feast goes off without a hitch—and an emergency trip to the vet—with this guide.

Turkey Day is right around the corner! Make sure your feast goes off without a hitch—and an emergency trip to the vet—with this guide.

The Food: This holiday is all about the food. Unfortunately, a sudden switch from kibble or canned food to a plate full of turkey and stuffing can wreak havoc on your pet’s digestive system, potentially leading to pancreatitis and gastroenteritis. More than just a tummy ache, these conditions can be very painful and even life-threatening to your pet.

This does not mean your pet has to be left out of the festivities completely, however. The key is to keep it simple and in moderation. Remember, dogs and cats cannot handle rich, fatty foods like butter, cream and other seasonings the way humans can. It’s best to stick to small portions of plain turkey, mashed potatoes and vegetables like carrots or green beans. Make sure the turkey is well cooked and don’t forget to remove the bones and skin.

Keep in mind that while a little Thanksgiving meal will not harm your pet, there are a few foods that must be avoided. These include onions, grapes, raisins and chocolate, all of which are toxic to animals.

The Decorations: While home décor may not seem dangerous, some items can present a problem for our four-legged friends. Candles, in particular, should be kept out of reach of curious cats and dogs that can burn themselves or start a fire if the candle is knocked over.

Wires and batteries can also be hazardous. If chewed, wires can deliver a serious shock, while batteries can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus.

Other items, like decorative corn or pumpkins, may cause gastrointestinal upset or even a blockage if ingested.

The Clean-Up: Don’t think your pet is safe just because the food isn’t on the table anymore. One risk that is often overlooked is the disposal of food and wrappings when the big meal is over. It is safest to make sure all trash, including the turkey carcass, is securely tied up and out of reach. Remember that bones can break easily and sharp pieces can be swallowed, causing a blockage or tearing the intestines. All pieces of the carcass should be double-bagged and disposed of properly.

Food wrappings such as aluminum foil, wax paper and turkey strings should also be kept out of reach. Remember, when used to cook with, these items become just as irresistible to your pet as the food itself!

The Wind-Down: Make sure you give your pet a comfortable, quiet space to retreat to should the holiday activity be too much for him/her. Watch your pet for signs of stress, such as vocalizing, panting, pacing or trembling. 

Dr. Michele Drake, veterinarian and owner of The Drake Center for Veterinary Care, has been treating pets in Encinitas for over 20 years. For more information on pet health or to schedule an appointment for your pet, please call The Drake Center at (760) 753-9393 or visit www.thedrakecenter.com.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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