Don’t feed your dog turkey leftovers and other pet holiday safety tips

Cute doggie safe holidays

Source: Pond5

What’s wrong with a little turkey? It’s the skin and the gravy that might be coating it that could make your dog sick. They contain too much fat.

“Fat is the number one thing that gets dogs in trouble with their GI tract,” says veterinarian Tom Netland, who owns Cumberland Animal Clinic. “We see very serious stuff from high-fat meals. Pancreatitis, which can be fatal, and colitis.”

Chocolate poisoning is another thing Dr. Tom sees during the holidays, even though all dog owners know that chocolate can be deadly. “We see a lot of chocolate toxicity because there’s lots of candy around during the holidays,” he says. “We’ve had a number of cases where candy was wrapped and under a tree or delivered and dogs could smell it and they tore into it and got chocolate toxicity. We don’t see it much in cats because cats are sort of fastidious about what they eat. Even if a cat has a big box of chocolates in front of them, they usually wouldn’t eat it. Dogs would eat the whole thing!”

More holiday food tips

  • Watch out for any string that gets cooked with the roast or the turkey. It could tie up your pet’s insides.
  • The little pop-up thermometer that often comes with the turkey might taste really good to your pet. It could do some damage to the intestines.
  • Onions are toxic to dogs
  • No spicy foods
  • No cooked bones
  • Do I need to include this? No alcohol!
  • No fatty meats
  • No chocolate

 The ASPCA has a long list of foods you want to keep away from your pets.

And I have a long list of other tips that will help keep your pets safe during the holidays.

Kitten with decorations/safe holidays

Source: Pond5

Decorations and gifts

I remember a Christmas many years ago when my dog knocked over the tree with one swoop of his tail. He was really happy to see me! There were also years when we had to anchor the tree to the wall with wire because of our rambunctious cat.

  • If you have Christmas tree, make sure it’s anchored securely.
  • Use a tight-fitting tree skirt so your pet doesn’t have easy access to the tree water. It may be harmful to drink. If you add chemicals to the water to keep it fresh longer, make sure that it’s safe for pets.
  • Hang ornaments out of reach so they don’t come crashing down with a tail wag or a paw swipe.
  • Same with lights. Don’t put them on the lower branches. You don’t want them gnawing or tugging on the cords. To be on the safe side, check any cords for bite marks.
  • Clean up fallen pine needles. If they get eaten, they can cause an upset stomach.
  • Forget about tinsel. Cats love to play with it, but they eat it, they can be in serious trouble. “It can get stuck in their intestine,” warns Dr. Tom, “and cause what’s known as a string foreign body. It’s often a very serious situation and needs surgery.”
  • Snow globes sometimes contain antifreeze. If one breaks and your pet‚ especially a small dog, puppy or cat, licks the liquid, get them to the closest emergency veterinary hospital as quickly as possible.
  • Scented candles might smell good to your pets. Be careful they don’t knock them over. Also, the fumes can be harmful to birds.
  • If you like to use liquid potpourri and sachets, they can irritate an animal’s skin. If they eat one, it could make them sick, even kill them.

Poisonous plants

Dr. Tom says he doesn’t see a lot of poisonous plant cases during the holidays (knock on wood.) To be on the safe side, here are some plants you need to keep away from your pets.

  • While poinsettias are not deadly, they can cause terrible vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Mistletoe, especially the berries, can upset your pet’s stomach. It can also cause fatal heart problems.
  • Holly can cause vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and lethargy.

Happy New Year!

I can’t believe I’m saying that already. It may be a cliché, but time does fly. If you’re going to be celebrating New Year’s Eve at home, remember that loud noises and lots of raucous strangers can cause stress for your pets. And when the party is over, don’t forget to clean up any confetti. That can taste good to them too, and if they decide to eat some, it won’t be a great way to begin the new year.

Whatever and however you celebrate, Happy Holidays to you and your pets!

Here’s one of my pets — Charlotte who likes to help me write my blog posts.

My cat Charlotte, safe holidays

Diane Atwood

About Diane Atwood

For more than 20 years, Diane was the health reporter on WCSH 6. Before that, a radiation therapist at Maine Medical Center and after, Manager of Marketing/PR at Mercy Hospital. She now hosts and produces the Catching Health podcast and writes the award-winning blog Catching Health with Diane Atwood.