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By Alyssa Mages, BS, CVT,
Education and Development Coordinator, Metropolitan Veterinary Associates

Thanksgiving is here! And while this is absolutely the time of year to be grateful for all that we have and passing on that gratitude to our furry family members, there are a few things we DON’T want to share with them!

Similar to other holidays, Thanksgiving is one that we celebrate with edible delights – and if your family is anything like mine, a LOT of them!  “Everything in moderation” is a good mantra for us all to adhere to, and in some cases for our canine & feline friends we should flip that around to: “Moderate everything!”

The following list, while not fully inclusive, is a good one for you to refer back to of the food items that should be avoided and WHY!

  • Turkey – skin, drippings, fat/gristle, gravy, bones, twine
    • Can lead to GI upset (vomiting/diarrhea, pancreatitis), and/or a GI obstruction
  • Stuffing – sage, onions, garlic, bread
    • Onions & garlic à Anemia (low red blood cell count)
    • Sage à Neurologic issues (seizures)
    • Bread à Bloat
  • Grapes/raisins or currants
    • Can cause acute kidney failure
  • Nutmeg & cinnamon
    • Nutmeg:
      • Can cause GI upset in small amounts
      • Larger quantities can lead to disorientation, altered mental state, possible seizures; but this is a VERY large amount such as ingesting a full shaker bottle!
    • Cinnamon:
      • > 1 tsp of powdered form to cause issues, very small amount (1-3 drops) of essential oil cause issues
      • Can cause: low blood sugar, liver damage, GI upset (vomiting/diarrhea), & increased/decreased heart rate
      • If inhale powder can cause tracheal & lung irritation à coughing, difficulty breathing
    • Nuts – particularly macadamia
      • Unsalted, free of ANY other coatings (honey, spices, etc.) peanuts, almonds, cashews can be ok – in MINIMAL quantities, and ALWAYS when supervised.
        • However, some GI sensitive dogs/cats can react poorly; this shouldn’t be a go-to snack for them!
      • Macadamia nuts are TOXIC in DOGS, but typically aren’t fatal.
        • Causes vomiting, ataxia (lack of balance) weakness, elevated temperature, & depression.
      • Mushrooms
        • These fungi aren’t all that FUN for our furry friends! Hard to ID and can cause a wide range of issues that include liver, neurologic, GI, or kidney damage.
        • Play it safe – AVOID giving your pet any of these!
      • Cranberry Sauce
        • High in sugar, which can cause GI upset, and any added ingredients can cause more harm.
      • Corn on the Cob
        • This we see frequently in obstructed pets; they can get it into their stomachs, but they cannot get it out! Surgical removal is typically required.
      • Chocolate
        • If you read last month’s blog, you’ll recall that effects of this treat vary based on type – dark vs. milk, and size of pet – large vs. small. However, as chocolate can cause significant GI & cardiac impairment, do NOT let your pets eat any!
      • Candied Yams & Mashed Potatoes
        • Candied Yams:
          • Similar to cranberry sauce, these tend to be high in sugar, leading to GI upset +/- increased blood sugar levels which is particularly dangerous should you have a diabetic pet!
        • Mashed Potatoes:
          • Can contain garlic which as you read earlier = TOXIC!
        • Both of these also typically contain butter…read below!
      • Butter
        • Can lead to pancreatitis, which is inflammation of the pancreas; an incredibly painful condition for your pet!
      • Bread Dough
        • If contains yeast, and is ingested by your pet it will rapidly expand
        • This process also releases alcohol during the fermentation process which then gets into your pet’s bloodstream à metabolic/neurologic abnormalities…see below about alcohol poisoning!
      • Alcohol (Wine, beer, cider, etc.)
        • Drunk pets are ‘funny’ on YouTube, except that they’re not!
        • These poor animals are experiencing alcohol poisoning which occurs after a much smaller ingestion than would affect a human, and can seriously damage their liver, kidneys, and overall cognitive function.
      • Desserts (pies, cakes, candies)
        • If they contain ANY of the above listed ingredients – and they do! – avoid them!

So, what to do when you simply cannot resist those puppy dog eyes?  If you are about to cave in to your fur baby’s demands, offer these pet safe human food options instead:

  • Pumpkin puree – NOT pie filling!!! Simple, plain canned pumpkin
  • Green beans – raw or cooked, NOT coated in oil, butter, or other herbs/spices. Preferably steamed or boiled.
  • Carrots – raw or cooked (easier on their teeth if steamed)
  • Apple slices – raw; NOT from the apple pie!
  • Their own kibble or a special cat or dog specific treat saved for just such an occasion 😊

Thanksgiving should be a day to spend with your family – furry members included – at home, and not at the hospital – veterinary or otherwise.  But, should you run into any turkey related incidents with your furry family member, we will be here that day, and everyday thereafter; keep our number handy and we’ll be there with you holding your hand – and their paws – to get you all better & back home for the rest of the Holiday season!

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