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ASPCA's Thanksgiving Pet Safety Tips

November, 2008

Friends, family and feasts—the main ingredients for holiday fun can actually result in distress for pets. Not only can too many table scraps set furry tummies a-rumble, but many animals get anxious at the change in household routine. Says the ASPCA’s Dr. Steven Hansen, Senior Vice President, Animal Health Services, which includes the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center in Urbana, IL, “As you begin to prepare for a festive season, remember to be wary of activities that can be potentially dangerous to pets.”

The following safety tips will help to ensure a safe and fulfilling Thanksgiving for you and your pets:

Talkin’ Turkey: Giving your pets a little nibble of turkey is okay, just be sure that it’s boneless and fully cooked. Raw or undercooked turkey may contain salmonella bacteria, and dogs can choke on bones, which splinter easily.

A Feast Fit for a Kong: While the humans are chowing down, give your cat and dog their own little feast. Stuff their usual dinner—with a few added bits of turkey, dribbles of gravy or vegetables like sweet potato and green beans—inside a Kong toy. They’ll be happily occupied trying to get their meal out, and way too busy to come begging for table scraps.

Sage Advice: This peppery herb makes stuffing taste delish, but sage also contains essential oils and resins that can cause pets to suffer stomach upset and possible depression of the central nervous system.

Battery Power: The holiday season means lots of cameras, radios and other battery-operated electronics. Please don’t leave batteries lying around. If swallowed, they can cause choking or obstruction; if punctured, the chemicals in alkaline batteries can cause burns to the mouth and esophagus.

No Bread Dough: Don't spoil your pet’s holiday by giving him raw bread dough. According to ASPCA experts, when raw bread dough is ingested, an animal's body heat causes the dough to rise in his stomach. As it expands, the pet may experience vomiting, severe abdominal pain and bloating, which could become a life-threatening emergency, requiring surgery.

Don't Let Them Eat Cake: If you’re baking up Thanksgiving cakes, be sure your pets keep their noses out of the batter, especially if it includes raw eggs—they could contain salmonella bacteria that may lead to food poisoning.

Too Much of a Good Thing: A few small boneless pieces of cooked turkey, a taste of mashed potato or even a lick of pumpkin pie shouldn’t pose a problem. However, don't allow your pets to overindulge, as they could wind up with a case of stomach upset, diarrhea or even worse—an inflammatory condition of the pancreas known as pancreatitis. In fact, it’s best keep pets on their regular diets during the holidays.

Pets won’t be so thankful if they munch on undercooked turkey or a pet-unfriendly floral arrangement, or if they stumble upon an unattended alcoholic drink. Keep all of the above in mind and you and your pet should have a very happy Thanksgiving!

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