Between the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the gridiron rivalries, this holiday often is one of the most hectic times of the year and can pose hazards to your pet. Our team at Johnson County Animal Clinic wants to offer tips to help ensure your pet stays safe. 

#1: Keep your pet away from the Thanksgiving spread

Sudden changes in your pet’s diet can result in stomach upset and diarrhea, and certain indiscretions can trigger pancreatitis, a serious, potentially life-threatening condition. Several foods also are dangerous to your pet. These include:

  • Turkey — Turkey skin is high in fat and can cause pancreatitis in your pet. In addition, cooked turkey bones are brittle and can splinter easily, causing a choking hazard. The sharp pieces also could injure your pet’s mouth or esophagus.
  • Onions — Garlic, leeks, chives, and onions contain thiosulphates, which are toxic to pets. When ingested, thiosulphates cause your pet’s red blood cells to become fragile and break down, resulting in anemia. Signs include vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy, and can progress to weakness, pale mucous membranes, and bloody urine.
  • Grapes — Grapes, raisins, and currants contain an unknown toxin that causes acute kidney failure in pets.
  • Nuts — All nuts are dangerous for pets if eaten in high enough quantities, but macadamia nuts are especially problematic, causing vomiting, ataxia (i.e., impaired coordination), weakness, and hyperthermia.

Call Johnson County Animal Clinic or Animal Poison Control immediately if your pet ingests a toxic substance.

#2: Keep your pet away from the dessert table

Many sweet treats served during the holiday season can be dangerous for your pet.

  • Chocolate — This favorite ingredient in many pies and cakes contains caffeine and theobromine, which cause increased epinephrine levels and central nervous stimulation in pets. Signs include restlessness, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Uncooked dough — Uncooked dough that contains yeast can be dangerous for pets. As the yeast ferments after ingestion, carbon dioxide and alcohol are produced. This can cause severe bloating and alcohol poisoning, which can be life-threatening for your pet.
  • Xylitol — Frequently used in diabetic-friendly desserts and candies, this artificial sweetener causes pets to release insulin, resulting in a sudden drop in their blood sugar levels. Signs include lack of coordination and seizures. In severe cases, liver disease can occur.
  • Nutmeg — Frequently used to make pumpkin pie, this spice contains myristicin, which causes disorientation, abdominal pain, and seizures in pets.

#3: Keep your pet away from discarded food items

Discarded Thanksgiving foods can cause problems for your pet.

  • Corn cobs — Corn cobs and small bones can be ingested and cause a gastrointestinal blockage.
  • Plastic wrap — Your pet may inadvertently ingest plastic wrap when scavenging, which also can cause a gastrointestinal blockage. Since the material cannot be observed on X-rays or ultrasound, diagnosing the problem can be difficult.
  • Turkey brine — This solution is extremely high in salt and can cause salt toxicity. Signs include excessive thirst and urination, vomiting, and diarrhea. 

#4: Keep your pet away from Thanksgiving decorations

When making your home beautiful for your Thanksgiving guests, choose pet-friendly decor. Decorations to avoid include:

  • Candles — Lighted candles provide a lovely ambiance and smell throughout your home, but if your pet gets too close, they could be burned or start a fire. 
  • Lilies — Lilies can cause gastrointestinal upset in dogs and lead to severe kidney failure in cats. All parts of the lily are dangerous, including the water in the vase or pot.
  • Amaryllis — Amaryllis contains lycorine, which causes increased salivation, gastrointestinal upset, lethargy, and tremors. All parts of the plant are toxic for pets, but the bulb is the most dangerous.
  • Hydrangeas — Hydrangeas contain amygdalin, a toxin that causes vomiting and diarrhea in pets. In severe cases, signs can include lethargy, depression, and confusion.

#5: Keep your pet away from stressful situations

Some pets are better at handling crowds than others. If your pet does not do well mingling with guests, create a quiet space for them in another room in your home. Ensure they have all their necessities and leave music playing to help muffle loud celebrants. You also can give them a food puzzle toy as a distraction. Whether your pet is relegated to a quiet zone or allowed to mingle, take a few precautions to ensure they don’t get lost.

  • Signs — Place signs on your doors to tell your guests and remind yourself to watch for a sneaky pet trying to escape.
  • Microchip — The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) recommends microchipping your pet as the best way to permanently identify them. Keep your contact information up to date in the microchip registry.
  • Identification tags — In addition to a microchip, your pet also should wear a collar and identification tags that have your current contact information.

You and your pet will be thankful you followed these tips when your Thanksgiving festivities proceed without incident. If you would like to have your pet microchipped before the big feast, contact our team at Johnson County Animal Clinic to schedule an appointment.