Brownsburg Animal Clinic will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, Friday and Saturday, November 23, 24 and 25. Normal office hours will resume Monday, November 27.
If this painting depicting the first Thanksgiving in 1621 is to be believed, a dog was happily—and apparently safely—celebrating alongside the guests at the feast.
But Thanksgiving as we celebrate it today can be very dangerous for pets.
Here’s a quick summary of Thanksgiving safety guidelines from North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
In less than four minutes, the following video posted on the American Animal Hospital Association’s YouTube channel, “Keeping your pets safe on Thanksgiving,” covers a number of hazards we haven’t seen cited by other sources.
Food Safety Specifics
Our traditional Thanksgiving feasts contain a few foods that can be safely eaten in small portions as treats by most pets, but many more holiday foods can cause serious, potentially deadly health problems.
Pets access these delicious but dangerous foods not only from countertops, table tops and trash cans, but directly from the hands of indulgent, well-meaning people who want to include pets in the family festivities.
It’s up to you to recognize and protect your pet from these food hazards.
Turkey. A few bites of unseasoned cooked white meat may do your pet no harm, but turkey skin and fatty dark meat can cause life-threatening pancreatitis.
Raw or undercooked turkey can cause salmonella poisoning, so make sure you keep thawing turkey out of your pet’s reach.
Turkey bones can damage or become lodged in your pet’s digestive tract, possibly requiring emergency surgery. Under no circumstances should you give your pet turkey bones!
Discarded turkey packaging and trussing strings can also be extremely dangerous when swallowed.
According to the Pet Poison Helpline, turkey brine is hazardous to pets. “When you remove the turkey, this salt-saturated solution can be very attractive to dogs and cats, who will readily lap it up resulting in salt toxicosis. Clinical signs are excessive thirst and urination, vomiting and diarrhea. This can potentially result in serious electrolyte changes and brain swelling.”
Garlic, onion, leeks and chives. These common ingredients we humans enjoy to spice up our holiday dishes are toxic to dogs and cats. Don’t give your pet even a single bite of any dish—like green beans, potatoes, stuffing or gravy—containing these poisonous-to-pets ingredients.
Yeast bread dough. Raw yeast bread dough, when eaten by a pet, can expand internally, blocking the pet’s digestive tract. As fermentation continues, ingested yeast dough can convert sugars into carbon dioxide gas and alcohol, resulting in a bloated, drunken pet who may require life-saving emergency treatment and hospitalization. Keep your rising yeast bread dough out of your pets’ reach.
Desserts. Pies, fruitcakes, candies and cookies—particularly those containing chocolate, raisins, currants, nuts and the sugar substitute xylitol—should be kept out of your pet’s reach.
See our post, “Protect Your Dog from Xylitol Poisoning” for more information about this widely-used household hazard.
Alcohol. If your holiday celebrations include alcohol, do not offer alcohol directly to your pet or allow access to unattended drinks containing alcohol.
According to Pet Poison Helpline, “Alcohol must be kept out of the reach of dogs because it can cause severe poisoning. Poisoning may cause symptoms such as seizures or breathing difficulties that need hospitalization and supportive care. Dogs can be poisoned by alcoholic drinks, but did you know they can be poisoned by yeast, too? If a dog eats rising bread dough, they can experience poisoning from the alcohol from the fermenting yeast. Alcohol rapidly absorbs into the bloodstream which results in alcohol poisoning.”
There is nothing cute or funny about a pet under the influence of alcohol, but there is the very real potential for serious health problems.
The Holiday Hazards of Guests
If you’re hosting a holiday gathering, your pet will be exposed to all the noise, confusion and opportunities to bolt out the door that come with receiving and entertaining guests.
Especially shy or protective pets unused to having company may even growl, snap at or bite guests.
Well-meaning friends and family members may be tempted to feed your pet potentially harmful treats.
Those not used to keeping doors and gates closed and foods and trash out of pets’ reach may inadvertently endanger your pet.
Overnight visitors may have easily-accessible-to-your-pet prescription and over-the-counter drugs or candies containing chocolate and/or sweetened with xylitol in their handbags and luggage. Keep bags off the floor and guest room doors closed.
To avoid holiday trips to the veterinary emergency hospital, make sure your guests understand basic security precautions to protect your pets. If the holiday festivities are to last only a few hours, you may prefer to protect your pet by restricting him or her to a quiet part of the house or to a crate until the party concludes.
Brigid Wasson from First Street Pets created “Keeping pets safe over Thanksgiving Holiday,” a 7-minute video focusing primarily on holiday safety hazards unrelated to food.
If you are traveling to celebrate the holidays with your family or friends, you may choose to take your pet with you. See our post, “Safe Travels With Your Pet,” for links to travel-related resources.
If you read the safe travels post to the end, you’ll see our parting advice is to consider leaving your pet at home. Travel can be stressful for pets—especially when the destination is a large gathering of unfamiliar (to the pet) people in an unfamiliar (to the pet) place.
Your pet may well be happier at home with a pet sitter or in the relatively stable confines of a boarding kennel. Just be sure your pet is up-to-date on all vaccines, and make your reservations well in advance of the busy holiday season.
Helpful Holiday Contacts
We will be closed from Thanksgiving Day through the following Sunday so that our veterinarians and staff can enjoy the holiday with their own families and friends.
Should you need veterinary care while we are closed for the holiday, see the list of area emergency clinics in the right sidebar of every page on our website.