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We love to get together with family and friends for Thanksgiving. Although our pets are parts of our family too, we need to be careful to keep them safe while we are enjoying our festivities.

Pets can’t eat everything that we do. Sometimes just eating different foods is enough to cause digestive upset. Fatty foods like turkey skin, gravy or other rich and fatty foods can cause a very painful and potentially life threatening condition called pancreatitis. Other foods are outright toxic and should never be fed to pets. These include any foods containing: raisins, grapes, and onions. Even foods like broccoli and garlic can be toxic. Sometimes the amount fed matters and sometimes one grape can be enough to be cause fatal kidney disease.

As most people know, chocolate is toxic to dogs. The darker the chocolate, then the less it takes to make your dog very sick. Baking chocolate is often very high in theobromine, the part of chocolate that is so toxic to dogs.

Some low calorie or no calorie foods are sweetened with the artificial sweetener xylitol. It is often found in chewing gum, some hard candies and even in some types of peanut butter. Xylitol is EXTREMELY toxic to dogs in even the smallest amount, so check your labels vigilantly and don’t deliberately share any sweets with your pets.

Did you know that yeast dough and breads can be toxic as well. They can cause painful and dangerous gas and bloating. Keep the bread and dough up and out of the reach of your four legged friends.

Of course we never recommend that you give any bones to your pets. We’ve seen far too many problems with them that range from fractured teeth to intestinal perforations that require extensive surgery. Cooked bones from your turkey carcass are especially harmful because they are so brittle and they break into sharp pieces when your pets chew on them and swallow them. So steer clear of giving those to your pets please.

Remember that your garbage can or your compost might smell extra yummy at this time of year. So keep those areas locked up and make sure that your pets can’t go foraging for themselves and get into trouble. You need to protect them from themselves and those fantastic sniffers!

Thanksgiving weekend can mean a lot of visitors to your home. That’s a lot of fun for us, but it also means a lot of doors opening and closing. This makes it much easier for your dogs or cats to slip outside. Be extra watchful of your pets during the festivities. Many pets go missing when families get together because of this. We’d love to see all pets microchipped so that they can be more easily reunited with their families when they get lost. Even having a collar with identification tags including your phone number are a great idea.

We get excited when many of our family members and friends come for a Thanksgiving meal. It is important to remember though that many of our pets do not enjoy this nearly as much as we do. Imagine having a whole bunch of excited kids running around and playing and being loud and so many new adults invading your space and not knowing why. It can be overwhelming for our cats and dogs. Many cats will choose to hide out somewhere anyhow until well after the last guest goes home. Sometimes we don’t think to provide them and even our dogs with a quiet, guest-free, area to stay in during the celebration. When a pet becomes overwhelmed or stressed then that is when your usually calm and outgoing pet scratches or bites someone. Holidays are unfortunately a big time for reported bites by pets. It’s because people, and especially small children, don’t always know how to read an animal’s body language and stress signals. Your dog that will usually tolerate their ‘child’ in their space might not know what to do with several boisterous and enthusiastic children all at once. Stress and anxiety lowers their tolerance for such things and they lash out to protect themselves. Putting your pet in another room or part of the house where they won’t be bothered isn’t a punishment at all! This is often such a relief for our pets and we shouldn’t feel bad for keeping them safe and helping to lower their anxiety levels.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving celebrations with your family and friends. And keep your pets safe too! We don’t like seeing a rush on the Tuesday after the Thanksgiving weekend of sick doggies and kitties that could have been avoided. We know that it’s usually because owners don’t understand all of the risks that this time of year can pose for our pets. Hopefully now you have a better idea of some of the things to watch out for.

Happy Thanksgiving from our Thousand Islands Veterinary Services Family to yours!