Breaking Holiday Myths

Thanksgiving Leftovers are for the Dogs

Holidays are for sharing. We share our love, our appreciation for one another, our food. As loving pet owners, we want to include our pets in these special times, and holiday meals are no exception. This time of sharing can be particularly dangerous for dogs, however, since many dogs tend to have en expectation that anything that is edible must be good to eat. It is our responsibility, then, to make sure that our pets do not get anything into their mouths that could be potentially dangerous or toxic.

There are ways to include our pets in the celebration, but first, let’s start with the foods that really should not be given to pets.

Unhealthy and Potentially Fatal Foods

The high-calorie, high-fat foods we humans take such pleasure in at holiday time are some of the worst foods for our pets. These foods include poultry skin, gravy, and dressings. Just one generous helping of such a fat-laden meal can begin a terrible chain of events, one of the possibilities being a potentially fatal disease called pancreatitis, which causes severe abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Another concern is foreign bodies (which is anything that does not naturally belong in the body, or when something is in a place where it does not belong). Even something as simple as a cob of corn can become a deadly obstruction if it gets caught in your dog’s intestinal tract.

Bones are also potentially hazardous to our pets, especially those from bird carcasses (e.g., turkey, chicken). The cooking process dries the bones, making them easy to splinter, and easy to get stuck in the passages if the digestive tract. The splintered pieces can be caught anywhere from the opening to the digestive system - the mouth - and anyplace in between, such as the throat (esophagus) or stomach. They can even become embedded in the intestinal walls.

Larger chunks of bone can also become stuck in the small bowel, causing pain and distress to the animal as other items are not able to pass through the narrow passage. In fact, internal bone fragments may sometimes require surgical removal.

Dogs are especially susceptible to toxic holiday foods such as onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, chocolate, and sugar substitutes that contain xylitol. Many of the stuffings, desserts, and side dishes made for holiday meals contain these potentially toxic products.

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