Thanksgiving dinner table scraps not recommended for pets, veterinarians say

ST. GEORGE — Thanksgiving dinner is a staple of the holidays and can bring together a slew of fancy culinary delights to be enjoyed by those at the table as they give thanks. However, there is another member of many people’s families that would also like to partake in the wonderfully-smelling meal that really shouldn’t: the family pet.

Cookie the Dog demands food and cares not for your excuses, St. George, Utah, 2018 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Feeding your pet table scraps from Thanksgiving dinner isn’t the best of ideas, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. The association warns that certain foods that tend to be served around the holidays can cause your pets – primarily your dog – some serious medial issues.

“Overindulging in the family feast can be unhealthy for humans, but even worse for pets,” the AVMA states on its website. “Fatty foods are hard for animals to digest. Poultry bones can damage your pet’s digestive tract. And holiday sweets can contain ingredients that are poisonous to pets.”

On the top of the list to avoid is fat from meats like turkey and ham, even in small amounts. Fatty foods can be hard to digest and also cause pancreatitis.

“Many of the foods may not be directly toxic but can be hazardous, especially if they are really fatty,” Dr. Colton Gust of the Dixie Vet Clinic told St. George News. He added that pets eating fatty foods can  may experience vomiting and diarrhea.

Photo by Nattakorn Maneerat/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

Grapes, raisins, onions and pecans are also off the list for pets. These can be poisonous and lead to kidney problems, and in the case of the pecans, possible seizures.

Bones, which can splinter and become a choking hazard or intestinal obstruction, are also to be avoided.

Xylitol, an artificial sweetener, can cause “rapid and serious drops in blood sugar levels in dogs,” according to Consuming foods with the sweetener can result in a dog having seizures and kidney failure. The ingestion of a large amount of xylitol can be fatal.

Giving pets chocolate or alcohol is also a big no-no, and if someone is planning to bake bread for a part of their Thanksgiving feast, Gust said to make sure the dog doesn’t get anywhere near the dough.

“Bread dough – the yeast – can cause some serious (gastrointestinal) discomfort and may even require surgical intervention,” Gust said. “Bread dough can expand really, really quickly in a dog’s stomach and lead to some serious GI problems that may require surgery to remove it to prevent further issues.”

Baked Macadamia nuts. These nuts are a no-no food for pets as they cause symptoms such as rear leg weakness, pain, tremors, and fever that can last for up to 48 hours after a dog eats them, according to   | Photo by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay, St. George News

While dogs tend to be the main focus of Thanksgiving table scrap advisories, Gust said much of the same can be applied to cats. The major difference is that a cat may be able to get into places in a house that a dog may not be able to otherwise, which is something else a pet owner needs to consider, especially if said cat is having digestive issues. And make sure not to leave food on the counters.

Some other foods pets should avoid as listed on include: Macadamia nuts, garlic, avocados, hops, ethanol (alcohol), apple seeds, fruit pits, coffee, mushrooms, mustard seeds, potato or tomato leaves and stems, rhubarb leaves, salt, tea and walnuts.

Beyond foods, it is also recommended to keeping pets away from any decorative holiday plants and flowers that can be toxic to them. This includes amaryllis, Baby’s Breath, Sweet William, some ferns, hydrangeas and more. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals website lists other problem plants for both dogs and cats.

“Those plants are something people don’t often consider when getting ready for the holidays,” Gust said.

As for what Thanksgiving foods could be fed to a pet, Gust said its best to avoid any potential problem by not giving the pet anything beyond its regular food.

“Typically, my response to pet owners is, ‘If it’s on the table, it should stay on the table,” Gust said.

If you want to give your pet something special for Thanksgiving, the AVMA and ASPCA suggest getting them a treat specially designed for their consumption and not food meant for humans.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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