Plan For A Pet-Safe Thanksgiving Holiday!

by Dr. Doug Pernikoff, DVM

Thanksgiving is that wonderful time of year, our woodlands adorned with fall flora, cool weather changes, and the portal for Christmas and New Year’s seasons following close behind. What’s to Worry?!?!? All that great food! Bad for our waistlines, and maybe, worse for our beloved pets!!

So many goodies! The general rule is to go ahead and ‘stuff the turkey, not your pets’. Any unfamilar diet items can pose a problem. Excess gas, diarrhea, vomiting and worse! Those are the general signs to watch for. More severe signs like bloody stool, lethargy, and severe conditions like pancreatitis or stomach bloat can ensue. All these issues, aside from making our pets ill, costs lots of money at the emergency veterinary hospitals! Certainly, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And, don’t forget to secure the trash cans and trash bags to assure that Fido or Felix do not find their way into all those tasty morsels. Items like turkey and chicken meat can carry organisms like Salmonella, as they sit out and denature. The turkey bones are hollow and splinter easily. Foreign bodies lodged anywhere along the intestinal tract, from mouth to tush, can impose major concerns, leading to surgeries that again, are costly, and can prove life threatening to our babies.

Bloat is an animal in it’s own right. This syndrome is much more prevalent in mid to large and giant breeds. Excessive water drinking or unusual food items producing gas, both distend the stomach. If it becomes too enlarged, like a water balloon, it tends to turn on its axis, and subsequently, twist off it’s own blood supply. There is another issue. The spleen lies along the side of the stomach, and where the stomach goes, so goes the spleen. When the blood supply is twisted off to either, or to both organs, there is immediate tissue death and toxins released that can affect the heart, and worse. These animals tend to get very sick and even can die within hours. If you note your dog’s stomach is swelling; if they stand uncomfortably as though in a trance, or if they try to vomit repeatedly, better get to your vet ASAP.

Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas organ, which produces both hormones like insulin and glucagon, for sugar metabolism; but, also has cells that produce the enzymes for digestion in our upper small intestines. Fatty foods and other unfamiliar food items can stimulate an overproduction of those enzymes that leak out and actually irritate the very tissues that produce them. Pets can get very ill, very quickly. Again, vomiting and excessive soft, voluminous stools are not uncommon. Fever, lethargy are also very frequent reports. Most times, your vet will need to hospitalize your pet and treat with fluids, antibiotics and other intestinal protectants. This syndrome tends to be more chronic and can recur with ever so slight a change in palate. This is why most vets will ask owners to minimize the treats provided and keep foods as consistent as need possible.
If you decide you wish to change a diet item, please do it with caution, and slowly, over 10-14 days.

As a general rule, avoid items like onions, grapes, raisins and other components of our Thanksgiving entree and desserts. Be safe and avoid issues by avoiding feeding practice changes around the holidays! Have a wonderful, family packed event this year. Love to all your pets and to you as well!

Fondly, Dr. Doug & Staff
at the Clarkson-Wilson Veterinary Hospital