Thanksgiving with pets: Heavy on the fun, light on the trips to the emergency vet - Dr. Marty Becker

Thanksgiving with pets: Heavy on the fun, light on the trips to the emergency vet

Thursday, Nov 17th, 2016 | By Dr. Marty Becker

Dogs and food

Don’t invite lights and sirens to your Thanksgiving dinner! In this guest post, my son, Lex Becker, tells you how to keep your pets safe on this most food-centered of holidays!

The kitchen and the dinner table at Thanksgiving are cornucopias for a pet’s senses, with steaming piles of meat, vegetables, and baked goods just out of reach. It’s almost guaranteed that your pets will be making a pitstop at each human feeding station along the circumference of the table.

While most pet owners know what their pets can and can’t eat, your guests may not. Any food that isn’t a regular part of a pet’s diet can potentially cause issues ranging from a few days of diarrhea to severe cases of pancreatitis.

The dangers come in two forms: high-fat or high-alcohol.

Foods high in fat , like ham, gravy, and dark turkey meat, can cause a dog or cat’s pancreas to go into overdrive producing enzymes intended to digest the fat. The problem is that those same enzymes can end up digesting the pancreas itself.

If your pet begins vomiting, refuses to eat, walks strangely, or refuses to get up, you’ve got an emergency on your hands and need to head for the veterinary ER.

The second danger is more of a surprise: Alcohol poisoning. No, dogs and cats aren’t likely to over-imbibe the spiked punch. The alcohol comes from unbaked dough; yeast works by releasing ethanol and carbon dioxide to make the dough rise. This same action can create a dangerous cocktail in a pet’s stomach, causing severe bloating from the release of gas, and possible poisoning from the pets inability to process the ethanol. If you find your pet vomiting, bloated, weak, or lethargic, they may have alcohol poisoning, and need a trip to the ER.

While small amounts from accidental drops will most likely be fine, as will the occasional chance to lick a plate, it’s a good idea to ask your guests ahead of time not to feed your pets. Pre-program your cell phone with your vet hospital, on-call emergency vet if you have one, and the pet poison control center (888-426-4435) so if something does go wrong, or if you have any concerns, you have your team at the ready.

A little preparation and awareness will give you some peace of mind during Thanksgiving. Let’s be honest, you’ll need all you can get!

lexbioLex grew up on a ranch in small town North Idaho with a family life centered around pets and wildlife. He attended the University of Idaho in Moscow, and worked in the startup world in Boston. He’s extensively traveled to over 50 countries, lived in three, and is planning the journey through the rest. Lex enjoys good food, a surfboard, and a cat on his lap.