Pet Talk: Thanksgiving pet safety

Online Exclusive

Thanksgiving is when many people express gratitude for the blessings in life. For many of us, our pets are included in our thoughts of appreciation. Although you may consider Fido a part of the family, there are many reasons why he should not join you at the dinner table for the traditional holiday feast.

Turkey is often the main course of a Thanksgiving meal. If you decide to treat your pet to a piece of turkey, be sure it is boneless and thoroughly cooked to prevent salmonella poisoning. In addition, avoid letting your pet chew on any sort of leftover bones, as they can be problematic to the digestive tract. Dr. Stacy Eckman, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, explained the danger of allowing your pet to chew on a bone. “Bones can become lodged in the throat or esophagus and can cause problems throughout the intestinal tract,” she said. “They can also splinter and the bone may require surgery to remove.”

It may be tempting to offer your pets special treats during the holiday, but fatty foods should definitely be avoided. Fatty foods can upset your pet’s stomach and cause vomiting and diarrhea. In severe cases, it may even progress into something serious, requiring a hospital stay. “The more different the food is from your pet’s regular diet, the more likely they will have digestive upset,” Eckman said. “Vomiting and diarrhea secondary to table food ingestion are the most common reasons we see pets in the emergency room or veterinary hospital after the holidays.”

Raw dessert batter is also unsafe for your pet this holiday. Be sure to keep Fido’s nose out of the mixing bowl to prevent any consumption of eggs, which are sometimes contaminated with salmonella. If you are planning on making homemade bread, raw yeast bread dough can also pose as a threat to your pet. If consumed, the yeast will continue to convert the sugars in the dough to carbon dioxide gas and alcohol, resulting in a bloated, drunken pet. This can be a life-threatening situation that can require hospitalization. Raisins and grapes, which can cause kidney damage, and chocolate, which can be fatal for dogs, should also be kept out of your pet’s reach.

If you absolutely must provide a special holiday treat for your pet, there are safe options that will still leave Fido begging for more. Try sticking as close to your pet’s normal diet as possible by offering them a bowl of their usual food mixed with lean, boneless, and skinless pieces of turkey and a small amount of gravy. If you have fresh vegetables available, such as green beans or sweet potatoes, they will make an excellent addition to your pet’s healthy Thanksgiving feast.

To ensure your pet’s safety this Thanksgiving, be sure to keep them away from any harmful food products. In the spirit of the holiday season, your pet will be forever grateful for keeping them healthy during Thanksgiving dinner.

Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University.

Share this story