As much as we want to celebrate the holidays with our pets, there are many things owners should consider in order to protect their pooches and kittens this Thanksgiving. Dr. Patrick Mahaney debunks some of the most perplexing myths about the food-filled season and tells us what we should do to make sure our pets celebrate turkey day with us in the happiest and healthiest way.
Acorns do harbor potential to cause toxicity in dogs. Gallotannins contained in acorns can contribute to digestive tract upset, lethargy, and potentially even kidney damage if a large enough quantity is consistently consumed. Unlike cattle, most dogs do not graze on acorns on a frequent basis and are less prone to suffering toxic effects from occasional acorn ingestion. Dogs can experience gastrointestinal tract signs (vomit, diarrhea, decreased appetite, etc.) due to mechanical irritation caused by the tough nature of fibrous plants material.
Many of the festive foods consumed around Thanksgiving are made with a variety of spices like nutmeg, sage, cinnamon, cloves, pepper and others. Fortunately, the quantities of the spices typically used to provide flavoring are insufficient to cause toxicity in our pets should they only ingest a few teaspoons to tablespoons of a moderately spiced dish.
If a bottle or container of spice spills and a pet ingests or inhales the product, then the following clinical signs may be seen:
- eye discharge
- pawing at the face
- ptyalism (salivation)
-anorexia (decreased apetite)
To be on the safe side, it's best that all holiday spices are kept out of our pets' reach during the seasonal festivities.
In giving our pets samples of people-food from the Thanksgiving table, there are a variety of perspectives about the safety of this practice.
When it comes down to it, nature just makes food and doesn't label it for humans, dogs, cats or other species. Humans manufacture species-specific pet foods, which typically differs vastly in composition from that which nature creates. Needless to say, you won't find high-heat cooked kibble, chicken by-product meal or corn gluten meal naturally existing in the wild.
When a dog or cat consumes a diet primarily composed of processed pet food, any deviation from this style can result in gastrointestinal upset. If a pet is more used to eating a whole food based diet rich in ingredients comparable to those which nature creates, then ingesting small quantities of food from the table typically doesn't cause vomiting, diarrhea, or other illness.
There are foods that are known to be toxic or more likely to cause digestive tract upset when consumed by our pets. Animal skin (fat), bones, and cartilage aren't necessarily toxic, but could cause digestive tract upset in a pet not used to eating such things. Onions, grapes, and raisins can have a directly toxic effect on canine and feline organ systems and should be avoided.
Portion control is a vital consideration.
Owners must use good common sense and only offer pets a few teaspoons to tablespoons of turkey and other Thanksgiving items this holiday and other days of the year.
As many festive Thanksgiving foods contains onions (dip, stuffing, soup, etc.), there are numerous options that could sicken a dog or cat if such dishes are inadvertently eaten or voluntarily fed.
Onions are a species within the genus Allium, which also includes chives, garlic and leeks. Onions contain multiple organosulfides that are easily absorbed by the digestive tract and metabolized to produce reactive oxidants capable of damaging red blood cells. The outer membranes of red blood cells are especially susceptible and, if enough damage occurs, then anemia ensues.
Speculation that onions could lose some of their toxicity after cooking is intriguing, but their toxic effect is not diminished. Cooking decreases onions; volume on a per weight basis, therefore the dangerous effects of cooked onions is actually increased in comparison to raw. To clarify this, a tablespoon of chopped cooked onion is going to contain more volume by weight as compared to a tablespoon of chopped raw onion (air takes up space between pieces of chopped raw onion).
Next: Awkward Family Pets at Thanksgiving!
Family gatherings and parties present plenty of opportunities for pets to be exposed to a variety of different stimuli, yet they aren't the safest nor most practical method of socializing one's pet. Festive events, like Thanksgiving, bring people together in surroundings involving holiday foods, spirited decorations, relaxed sensibilities and out-of-town guests. Alterations in a pet's daily habits or diet a can potentially cause stress, illness or the urge to escape.
If you have a new pet in need of socialization, it's best that you provide concentrated interaction and energy-depleting play. If our pets are tired from activity, then they are more readily able to acclimate to being left in a safe, confined space at home while you attend your holiday festivities.