Thanksgiving Trouble to Avoid

Posted by Steve Dale on Nov 18th 2021

Turkey Day may be fun for us to gather with family, but it’s one of those days when veterinary emergency clinics are most busy.

Dumpster diving and counter surfing are dangerous sports for dogs and cats - as turkey and also chicken bones can be a choking hazard. These bones can easily splinter causing a real and urgent, potentially life-threatening emergency. Also, that fatty skin on turkey or chicken can cause acute pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), which could easily cause Thanksgiving to be interrupted with an emergency visit to the ER, and this is no laughing matter as pancreatitis is potentially fatal. Mostly it is treatable, but we’re talking days or even weeks of special care following the incident. Aunt Sally and Uncle Buddy love your pets and they mean well but are also notorious for sneaking food to your pets from the table. Aside from potentially including bones and that turkey skin, they may simply be feeding far too much.

For even a 50-lb dog, a few slices of turkey is akin to us eating three or four times as much, and for a 15 lb. dog a few slices is like us eating a half a bird, and the same goes for cats. Most chow hounds will continue to eat even though they have had way too much.

The reality check is that most pet parents are going to feed some turkey even if warnings are offered. So be sure to offer what is appropriate for the size of the pet, which may likely be a single, VERY SMALL slice of turkey, and no fat please. However, another issue is that without you being aware, the entire family may be surreptitiously funneling turkey to the pet under the dining room table all led by Aunt Sally and Uncle Buddy.

Beyond the main course, it’s not sugar that’s as much of an issue as brownies or cookies made with an artificial sweeter called xylitol, which is used in many sugar-free baking mixes. Even small amounts of xylitol can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), seizures, liver failure or even death in dogs. Of course, chocolate (particularly dark chocolate) can be toxic as well. The best advice is to keep pets away from desserts, as well as Aunt Sally and Uncle Buddy.

If you’re a lousy cook – consider moving your pet bird away from the kitchen. Birds can suffer what is commonly called Teflon toxicity. Non-stick heating surfaces heated at too high a temperature (often above 530ºF) results in caustic fumes - which may not smell to our noses, but can cause serious respiratory distress in pet birds, and may result in death.

The Company Arrives

Some dogs and cats look forward to all those relatives making their annual appearance on Thanksgiving, but others wish they had received an email to warn them about what’s about to happen because Aunt Sally, Uncle Buddy and everyone else – especially the crazy young nephews and nieces cause bedlam. The noise and unpredictability can be challenging for some pets to deal with. These more sensitive pets are best off behind-a-closed door, such as a second bedroom or den, with their water dish, litter box if applicable and classical music to a least drown out some of the commotion. Classical tunes can also be calming.

Distraction is a smart strategy. Stuff treats or kibble or moist food into a Kong toy or any of the myriad of food dispensing toys now on the market. If your dog or cat (yes cats too) are working on figuring out how to get the yummies, they won’t be simultaneously anxious about those rowdy relatives. (Warning: This method isn’t a good idea when multiple pets are aggressive in a confined space about sharing food and/or toys).

With all of these food opportunities, you might think about offering a nutritional supplement that can help maintain a balanced digestive tract. Tomlyn’s Pre & Probiotic contains direct-fed microbial cultures to supply beneficial microorganisms that occur naturally in the hind gut of healthy animals.

Make it a happy Thanksgiving for everyone.