How to make sure your pet has a healthy, happy Thanksgiving

Dogs are creative when it comes to yummy treats

It’s easy to underestimate the intelligence of our furry friends because they don’t use language the way we do, and when it comes to current events, they keep their opinions to themselves. What I have found after much observation and study of both people and pets is that while being quiet and reserved, listening more rather than voicing opinions may seem to indicate a potential lack of intelligence, often just the opposite is true. Some of the most creative, intelligent people are ones who listen more than they speak. As far as I’m concerned, being still and reflective in the midst of chaos is not only a sign of confidence and faith, but it also could be a sign of being highly intelligent.

I’m not trying to say that since animals don’t speak it means that they are more intelligent than people, only that it could be a mistake to underestimate their intelligence simply because they don’t insert themselves in the middle of every conversation and try to always be the center of attention. During this holiday season it’s helpful be aware that our pets are not only highly intelligent but they are also very in-tune with their environment and their “pack mates” which is usually you and the rest of the family. Most pets sense the excitement during a festive occasion such as Thanksgiving and recognize that the odds of getting table scraps and special treats goes up tremendously when there is plenty everywhere and everyone is happy (whether due to holiday cheer or that second glass of eggnog) and often distracted.

While everyone is in a festive and giving mood, there are a few very simple things to remember in order to keep our pets as safe as possible. One of the first things is that not all “people food” is good for pets, and in fact, some can be quite toxic to our animals (some examples: chocolate, raisins/grapes, baked goods sweetened with xylitol). Another thing to note is that when there are so many people around visiting it is more difficult to control what everyone gives our pets to eat.

A few days after Thanksgiving last year, my dog Daisy began vomiting for no apparent reason. Of course, not every time a dog vomits is it a sign that something is terribly wrong–anything causing gastric irritation could be a culprit from too many rich treats to simply being overly excited. However, when the vomiting continues for a whole day and into the night and doesn’t seem to be letting up, that’s a whole different situation. Vomiting could be a sign of injury to the head area or a pet being exposed to something that the body considers poisonous. Other concerns such as intestinal infection or even an obstruction could be the potential cause.

While some dogs eat grass in an attempt to “self-medicate,” this strategy is not always helpful or effective. When the vomiting is natural and occurs to expel toxins, it can actually be a good thing. However, many times this constant vomiting could itself become a threatening condition due to the possible dehydration that may occur. Here are some simple tips and first steps to take which may hopefully help your pet in this type of situation:

  • Look around carefully to see if there was anything that may have been ingested that could have caused harm. In cases when poisons are implicated or suspected, call the veterinary poison control center immediately for advice or take the pet to the clinic for an evaluation. If you suspect your pet has ingested a foreign object (e.g. cooked turkey bones, trash, string from the cooked turkey) contact your veterinarian for advice.
  • If you’ve ruled out ingestion of a foreign object or toxic substance as the cause of the vomiting, remove food for a short period of time (between 10 and 20 hours) to settle the stomach. After that period, reintroduce food very slowly with a bland diet. Cooking rice and plain chicken is a good starting point. Keep the quantity of food reasonable and don’t overdo it.
  • Keep other pets away and the level of excitement down for a day or so, and do not let anyone other than you (the person caring for the pet) give food and water so you can keep track of your pet’s intake.
  • If you’re going to be away for a short period of time, keep the pet confined in a crate or a small area. During this time it’s important not to let the dog roam and potentially get into more trouble or make other pets sick, since some of these conditions could be infectious and contagious.

If you notice the condition getting worse rather than better or you suspect that there could be an obstruction or a poisoning, the sooner you take the pet to a veterinarian for an evaluation the better the outcome will generally be. Should you have any medication related question, you can call your 1800PetMeds pharmacists to help answer those for you.

If you want to celebrate the holiday with your pet, a few small pieces of boneless, skinless cooked white turkey meat; plain sweet potatoes (no marshmallow topping!) or green beans make a healthy treat. Or better yet, treat your pet to some extra time spent playing, grooming or walking your pet this Thanksgiving. During this holiday season we can all have a great time with our pets; however, let’s not make the mistake of underestimating their intelligence. When it comes to getting into things they’re not supposed to have, especially when it comes to tantalizing food, you would be surprised just how intelligent, inventive, and resourceful our furry friends can be.

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  1. Thanks for the great post, Eddie. These are great reminders about how to make sure it’s a happy AND safe and healthy Thanksgiving celebration for everyone. 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving!

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