Food and pets: Keeping your furry friends safe during the holidays

Thanksgiving is a special holiday, but it also can carry a few hazards for pets.

The American Veterinary Medical Association offers the following tips to keep your pets healthy and safe during the holiday season.

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 in pets 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 them.

No pie or other desserts for your pooch. Chocolate can be harmful to pets. Also, the artificial sweetener called xylitol, commonly used in gum and sugar-free baked goods, 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 get rid of anything used to wrap or tie the meat, such as strings, bags, and packaging.  Place the carcass and bones 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 believe your pet has been poisoned or eaten something it shouldn’t have, call your veterinarian or local veterinary emergency clinic immediately or call the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline at 888-426-4435.  Signs of pet distress include sudden changes in behavior, depression, pain, vomiting, or diarrhea.