Typically, the Thanksgiving holiday is a time where families gather for fun and lots of scrumptious treats.  With this in mind, please remember that this can be a hectic and overwhelming time in your pet’s life.

Former SAHS Chief Veterinarian, Dr. Courtney Bridgeman, answers your most popular questions on how to keep your pets safe and sound this Thanksgiving.

Q: It’s Thanksgiving and my pet is part of the family, what can he eat to join in on the feast with us?
The following are safe to give your pet to include them in the festivities:

1. Turkey – (cooked, not including bones, which we will cover later)
2. Ham
3. Dressing or stuffing
4. Fresh steamed veggies
5. Rolls without butter
Please keep in mind that changing your pet’s diet might result in intestinal upset and or loose stool. Also, though people may overeat on Thanksgiving, feed your dog a limited portion appropriately based on their size.

Q: Are there any things my pet should definitely NOT eat?
Just like any other holiday, sweets and chocolate should be avoided at all cost. Pies and cakes typically are too rich and can cause diarrhea and stomach upset very quickly. Chocolate, of course, contains theobromine which can be deadly to small dogs and cats. Turkey bones seem a great treat for a dog or cat, but like ALL poultry bones, turkey bones can shatter and have sharp points. These sharp points can puncture internal organs as they pass through the digestive tract, also bones can become lodged in the esophagus and stomach and cause severe problems! As always, alcohol should never be given to your pets.

Q: My dog got into the trash or onto the table and ate a lot of food! When do I need to worry?
Dogs, like people, sometimes don’t know when to stop eating. Food that looks and smells good can overwhelm their ability to stop gorging. Because wolves did not know when their next meal would be they ate as much as they could fit in their bellies when they did have a kill, dogs consequently are not great at gauging how much they should eat meal to meal. This means that when presented with a feast, they could literally eat themselves ill.

If your dog overeats, expect them to have digestional upset (ie diarrhea and vomiting) and look bloated and miserable. You should seek veterinary help if any of the following symptoms appear:
1. Vomiting or diarrhea that lasts beyond 24hrs or is explosive in nature or contains blood. This could indicate a more severe problem like pancreatitis or HGE (hemorrhagic gastroenteritis).
2. Your dog becomes lethargic. While you might see some signs of lethargy after an excessive meal with lots of sleeping, your pet should not seem depressed. Depression could be a sign of pain or pancreatitis and veterinary help is a must.
3. Your pet can’t get comfortable, groans, seems painful, or pants excessively. It is true that overeating on its own can cause your pet to become uncomfortable, causing these symptoms, but this should go away within an hour as the stomach expands to accommodate and process the food. Pain symptoms that extend beyond that or get worse might indicate a more severe problem like bloat or GDV (stomach twisting) which are emergency situations.

Overall the holidays are a fun time and including the pets can be fun for the whole family. Please remember that their care is in your hands and think responsibly when you celebrate with your four-legged family!


General Care

Allergies in Pets!
Moving With Your Pet
Pet Theft Prevention
Preparing Your Pet For Baby's Arrival
Successful Cleaning to Remove Pet Odors and Stains
To Spay or Neuter
Travel Tips
Territorial Marking Behavior In Dogs And Cats
Unusual Eating Habits In Dogs And Cats
Vaccination Guidelines
Quality of Life to the End of Life (By Alice E. Villalobos, D.V.M., DPNAP)

All Pet Care Tips (PDF files only unless otherwise indicated) are Copyright 2000, to Denver Dumb Friends League and Humane Society of the United States. All rights reserved.