Cheeky cat looking at food on dining tableThanksgiving is just around the corner (already?), and while many families are busy preparing for the inevitable smorgasbord of delicious goodies that go along with the holiday, it’s easy to forget about our four-legged friends. The Thanksgiving meal is a cherished tradition in so many households, but it’s important to keep in mind the risks involved for our furry family members.

Your team at Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates understands your desire to share in this cherished holiday with your pets, while still keeping their safety and health in mind. Our guidelines can help you to plan a safe, fun, and pet friendly Thanksgiving.

Risks at the Table

The Thanksgiving table is the center of the party, but pets that are participating in the feast (or helping themselves to the garbage or leftovers) are at an increased risk of ingesting something toxic. Watch out for the following common pet toxins:

  • Poultry problems – Dogs and cats everywhere will collectively salivate at the sight of the traditional Thanksgiving bird. If you do decide to share a nibble with your pet, make sure it’s a boneless, skinless, and well-cooked bite. Undercooked meat may contain Salmonella bacteria, and even small amounts of fatty foods, such as poultry skin or gravy, can trigger a dangerous inflammatory condition known as pancreatitis.
  • Stuffing situations – Stuffing is one of the cornerstones of Thanksgiving, and it’s easy to see why. Unfortunately, many ingredients found in stuffing are toxic to pets, including onions, garlic, and sage, so make sure no one slips Fido a bite under the table.
  • Dessert dilemmas – Common baking ingredients, such as chocolate, raisins, macadamia nuts, and the sugar substitute Xylitol, are toxic to pets if ingested. Raw bread dough also poses a risk because a pet’s body heat may cause the dough to rise in the stomach, leading to vomiting, pain, and bloating that could become a life-threatening emergency.

Foreign Body Ingestion in Pets

With so many tempting morsels around, foreign body ingestion is not unusual during the holidays. Commonly eaten items include meat packaging, bones, turkey string and plastic packaging, corncobs, and aluminum foil. Any foreign object may become lodged in your pet’s intestinal tract, resulting in a dangerous bowel obstruction.

Call us right away if your pet has eaten something he or she shouldn’t have, or even if something just seems “off” to you.

Pet Friendly Thanksgiving Alternatives

Just because several of the common Thanksgiving foods are off-limits doesn’t mean your pet can’t enjoy some extra holiday treats. Many cooked, plain vegetables and fruits can make healthy, low-calorie snacks for dogs and cats. Give your pet a Thanksgiving feast alongside the family by adding a small amount of one or more of the following items to his or her regular kibble:

  • Pumpkin
  • Squash
  • Green beans
  • Corn
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Peas
  • Beets
  • Apple slices (cored)
  • Popcorn

Don’t forget, not all treats are food! There are plenty of fun and healthy ways to show your pet how thankful you are for him or her, including enjoying a post-meal walk or play session, or simply snuggling on the couch to watch the big game together.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates!