Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Since Thanksgiving tends to be viewed as the start of the holiday season, this is a good time to discuss precautions that should be taken during the festivities to avoid exposing pets to foods, plants, and situations that can potentially harm them or even cause death.
Our pets love to eat, and we love to share our goodies with our four-legged friends. However, there are several foods that are best not shared. Chocolate is a tasty treat that pets should never have. It contains both theobromine and caffeine, both of which are stimulants and can be toxic to dogs and cats. Onions, garlic, and shallots contain thiosulphate which causes red blood cells to burst in dogs and cats which can lead to a form of anemia. Turkey and chicken bones dehydrate during the cooking process and become brittle. When eaten, they can splinter and lodge in the throat or puncture the stomach or intestines. Grapes and raisins can cause vomiting and diarrhea and can lead to sudden kidney failure. Fatty foods, such as turkey skin, gravy and nuts can lead to pancreatitis, a painful inflammation of the pancreas which can be lethal to your pet.
Like foods, there are certain holiday plants that are best avoided. Poinsettias and mistletoe, mildly toxic plants, can be fatal if combined with other conditions. The leaves, bark, and seeds of holly contain ingredients similar to those found in chocolate and should be avoided. Pine needles, if swallowed, can puncture the stomach and intestines.
Additional visitors to your home during the holidays can cause your pet undue emotional stress and anxiety which can translate into nausea or diarrhea. While many pets do enjoy all the activity and visitors, some pets do not. It is important that you recognize your individual pet’s personality and be sure to provide the opportunity for your pet to move to a quiet undisturbed space if they find the celebrations overwhelming. Schedule changes can wreak havoc and while they do happen, it is important to try to keep your pet’s feeding times as regular as possible during festivities. Neither you, your guests, nor your pet will appreciate an upset stomach in the middle of the holiday get together.
If your dog has a leg brace, try to keep to your wearing schedule and be mindful of their activity during this hectic time. If your dog recently received their brace and is excited by the extra people, make sure the brace is on before your company arrives. Remind your friends and family that your pup has an injury and to interact with your dog calmly as to not get them too wound-up. Some families with dogs that have healed and no longer wear their brace on a day-to-day basis, may want to consider using the brace during the holidays and parties to provide the leg extra support.
Remember, your pets have no idea it’s holiday time so there is no need to feel guilty for not sharing food or including them in all the activities. It is much safer to spend extra time cuddling your pets, taking them for walks, and playing with them than sharing foods or exposing them to plants that could land them in your vet’s office or animal emergency center. Share your time with them in a method that they appreciate, that’s truly what they want and need to live a happier life.