How to keep your pets safe during holiday feasts

December 14, 2015


Overindulging in a holiday family feast can be unhealthy for humans, but even worse for pets, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. Fatty foods are hard for animals to digest. Poultry bones can damage your pet’s digestive tract. And holiday sweets can contain ingredients that are poisonous to pets.

Here are some things the veterinary group recommends pet owners keep in mind for the holidays:

— Keep the feast on the table — not under it. Eating turkey or turkey skin — sometimes even a small amount — can cause a life-threatening condition known as pancreatitis. Fatty foods are hard for animals to digest, and many foods that are healthy for people are poisonous to pets — including onions, raisins and grapes. If you want to share a Thanksgiving treat with your pet, make or buy a treat that is made just for pets.

— No pie or other desserts for your pooch. Chocolate can be harmful for pets, even though many dogs find it tempting and will sniff it out and eat it. The artificial sweetener called xylitol — commonly used in gum and sugar-free baked goods — also can be deadly if consumed by dogs or cats.

— Yeast dough can cause problems for pets, including painful gas and potentially dangerous bloating.

— Put the trash away where your pets can’t find it. A turkey carcass sitting out on the carving table, or left in a trash container that is open or easily opened, could be deadly to your family pet. Dispose of turkey carcasses and bones — and anything used to wrap or tie the meat, such as strings, bags and packaging—in a covered, tightly secured trash bag placed in a closed trash container outdoors (or behind a closed, locked door).

— Be careful with decorative plants. Don’t forget that some flowers and festive plants can be toxic to pets. These include amaryllis, Baby’s Breath, Sweet William, some ferns, hydrangeas and more. The ASPCA offers lists of plants that are toxic to both dogs and cats, but the safest route is simply to keep your pets away from all plants and table decorations.

— Quick action can save lives. If you think your pet has been poisoned or has eaten something it shouldn’t have, call your veterinarian or local veterinary emergency clinic immediately. You may also want to call the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline: 888-426-4435.

Signs of pet distress include: sudden changes in behavior, depression, pain, vomiting or diarrhea. Contact your veterinarian immediately.

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