Thanksgiving Dangers for Pets

Thanksgiving is a time for celebration. Unfortunately, it is a time for pet accidents as well. The family dog escapes while guests unload their cars and leave the front door open. The family cat burns their fur on a holiday candle. Here are my tips for keeping animals safe during the holidays.

1) Keep purses and briefcases tightly closed. Dogs and cats like to explore new items especially if they contain food. They are attracted to the sugar free gum and mints often found in bags. The chemical xylitol found in many sugar free products may cause a life- threatening drop in blood glucose.

2) Place candles in places that are inaccessible to pets. After the holidays, I see many cats with singed whiskers. Unfortunately, not all are so lucky. Some are burned severely after jumping onto the table to check out the centerpiece. To prevent this, I use battery operated candles in my house.

3) Ask house guests to keep their suitcases closed at all times. Many human medications, edible gifts and toiletries are poisonous to pets.  One of my patients found a box of chocolates hidden in luggage and promptly ate it, box and all. I had to pump his stomach to get everything out. I have had other patients get into estrogen cream, heart medication and even a bottle of Advil.

4) Secure all pets in a safe location. Every holiday season, many pets escape when doors, gate or windows are left open. Some make it home again but others don’t. I have had two patients killed, one dog was hit by a car and another cat was attacked by a dog. Remember, boarding is always an option.

5) Share the Thanksgiving meal with your human family only. Every year, many dogs will suffer from eating the high fat/carbohydrate food we have for Thanksgiving. The dogs come in with vomiting, diarrhea and severe abdominal pain. The lucky ones will respond to conservative therapy. The unlucky ones will develop pancreatitis. Provide appropriate treats for your guests to share with the pets.

I hope these tips will help keep Thanksgiving fun for the entire family.                               Happy Thanksgiving!               -Dr.  Kris Nelson

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.