With Thanksgiving kicking off the holiday season, plans for get-togethers, cocktail parties, and dinners with family, neighbors, and friends are in the works! While all of these are great fun and a time to indulge on treats and sweets, it’s important to be mindful of our furry friends.
Coats and handbags get thrown in your spare bedroom when closet space runs out, but you don’t know what your house guests have stashed in their pockets. Curious pets can sniff out all sorts of items that could put a damper on festivities. Be sure to either have your guests check their pockets or keep coats and handbags safely behind closed doors.
All the yummy treats and rich foods that present themselves between now and New Year’s Day are something to look forward to and our pets are often just excited to try to get a morsel or two.
While sugarless gum, candies, and mints may seem small and harmless, they can pose a big danger to pets if they contain xylitol. Gum, candies, and mints have strong scents and can easily attract curious dogs to root around in a handbag or coat pocket. Even a small amount of xylitol can cause life-threatening liver failure in dogs. Signs of xylitol poisoning include weakness, vomiting, muscle tremors, seizures, and coma.
Medications are important to keep on hand – especially prescription medications – but if a cat or dog consumes over-the-counter or prescription medications, serious effects may result. Anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g., Advil or Motrin) can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, and kidney failure may result. Anti-depressants and ADD/ADHD medications can cause life-threatening tremors, seizures, elevated body temperatures and heart problems requiring immediate veterinary intensive care.
Cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and marijuana can cause severe toxicity and even death. The liquid nicotine in e-cigarettes can have a strong scent and can be quite attractive to curious dogs – especially flavored e-cigarettes. Consuming only a few cigarettes or ingesting an e-liquid cartridge can cause serious illness. Signs can develop quickly (especially with ingestion of an e-liquid), and include rapid heart rate, panting, muscle tremors, excessive excitement, and uncontrolled bodily functions (urination and defecation). In some instances, ingestion of nicotine can result in seizures, paralysis, and even death. Other sources of nicotine (e.g., chewing tobacco and nicotine gum) can cause the same signs. The active ingredient in marijuana, THC, is quickly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. Signs of marijuana toxicity include incoordination, involuntary eye movements, depression or excitement, agitation, hallucinations, vomiting, and heart arrhythmias.
When it comes to sharing your Thanksgiving meal with your pet, be cautious! All those rich foods can cause gastrointestinal (GI) upset (vomiting or diarrhea) and some seemingly safe foods are in fact toxic to cats and dogs. Remind your guests to refrain from sharing their meal and instead prepare a special bowl of food for your pet.
Avoid feeding giving your pets dark turkey meat or skin and DO NOT give your pet any bones. Dark meat and skin are fatty and cause GI upset as well as pancreatitis – not an enjoyable way for anyone to spend their holiday! Bones can splinter causing damage to the esophagus, stomach, or intestines, or they can become lodged requiring emergency surgery.
Vegetables tend to be a safe choice – but not if they’re mixed with certain ingredients like onions, garlic, chives, or leeks. While preparing vegetables (such as broccoli, green beans, or sweet potato), set some aside to feed your pet later.
Chocolate is definitely off the menu when it comes to sharing with your pet. The darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is and results in abnormalities in heart rhythm, seizures, and even death.
With a few precautions and remembering that moderation is key, everyone in your home is sure to have a Happy Thanksgiving!