Oh, the festivities of Thanksgiving and oh, the trouble our pets can find within this celebration. In the spirit of attempting to prevent a Thanksgiving Day disaster in your home, here are some common exposures that we get called about during the week of Thanksgiving.
- Fatty foods such as butter, bacon, fatty meat drippings, gravies and meat scraps may seem harmless but can pose very real threats of pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas that can result in clinical signs of vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite and abdominal pain. Some breeds, such as miniature Schnauzers are very prone to developing pancreatitis but all dogs ingesting a large enough quantity of these foods are at risk. Symptoms may not be immediate and can occur up to 4 days after exposure.
- Discarded food items such as corn cobs, discarded turkey trussings, and bones can result in an obstructive risk or gastrointestinal injury that have the potential of requiring surgical removal or repair.
- Turkey Brine: Who would have thought that the recently popular trend of brining your turkey prior to Thanksgiving would be a risk to your 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.
- Xylitol: Candies, desserts or other foods that are sweetened with an artificial sweetener called xylitol are dangerous to pets. Xylitol can result in a rapid drop in blood sugar in dogs along with liver damage. In the past, we saw xylitol limited to the ingredient lists of sugar-free gums, mints, and dental products but xylitol is now very commonly used in sugar-free or low-sugar baked goods, vitamins and even peanut butter! Even quantities that appear to be very small have the potential to quickly become life-threatening to dogs. Always check the label!
- Raisins, currents and grapes found in some of our favorite Thanksgiving foods are a very serious concern for dogs as they have the risk of resulting in acute renal failure with even small ingestions.
- Chocolates in our desserts or treats are dangerous to our pets. Remember that the darker the chocolate, the more serious the ingestion, and the less they will need to ingest to develop clinical signs of vomiting, diarrhea, agitation, tremors, increased heart rate along with potential seizures.
- Nuts are high in fat and carry the risk of pancreatitis. Macadamia nuts are more serious as ingestions can result in vomiting, diarrhea, inability to rise or walk normally (they take on a drunken appearance and can even drag their rear limbs as if injured).
- Holiday decorations are a concern for many reasons. The bouquet of lilies you received from your guests can result in acute renal failure in your cat. Bittersweet flowers are many times included in fall floral arrangements and can cause gastrointestinal upset. Candles can result in burns and flameless candles contain batteries, that when ingested can result in gastrointestinal burns and corrosive injury.
Please keep in mind that you can call the Pet Poison Helpline 24/7 throughout your Holiday season to help you with those unexpected exposures.