The best part of the holidays is having everyone together in one place.
From the oldest and “greatest” generations in the family to the newest additions to the clan.
And, of course, let’s not forget those furry family members, excited by all the company and looking to play.
But if you have pets… or if any will be visiting for the holidays… there’s one part of the big feast you need to watch out for.
That’s the meal itself. Because it turns out many of the foods we love to share on Thanksgiving and Christmas can be toxic for dogs and cats.
And it starts with the very centerpiece of the dinner: The turkey.
Protect your pets this Thanksgiving
The truth is what’s good for you or me could be a disaster waiting to happen when it comes to your pet.
Following are four traditional Thanksgiving foods that could land your kitty or pup in a world of trouble. And I don’t know about you, but a visit to the Emergency vet in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner is the LAST thing I want to be doing on the big day.
Turkey skin or bones: It’s tempting to cave in to those puppy-dog eyes and just slip Rex a bit of the bird right off the table.
You’ve seen him handle a big beef bone before. So surely some turkey is not an issue, right?
Wrong, it absolutely is.
High-fat foods such as turkey skin are already tough for pets to digest. But then the oils, butter, marinades, and spices we use only make it worse. Cats and dogs alike could vomit. And let’s face it, nothing ruins a holiday meal quite like a puking pet under the table.
But that’s the least of your troubles. Those same high-fat foods could trigger painful and life-threatening pancreatitis.
And those bones? Unlike the big, strong beef bones dogs can safely chew on, turkey bones are delicate and shatter easily. Once inside, they can poke holes in the digestive tract or cause obstructions that could require surgery.
You CAN share a little turkey with your cat or dog. Just make sure it is an unseasoned, skinless, lean, white turkey meat instead.
Stuffing: Ok, so if the turkey is off the menu for your pet, they can still have a little of the Thanksgiving stuffing, right? After all, it’s mostly bread.
Once again, this is a people food your pet should never have. Most traditional stuffing recipes contain ingredients that can be dangerous for your pet.
Onions, chives, and garlic, for example, can be toxic. They can cause anemia in dogs and cats. While grapes and raisins can lead to severe kidney problems. Macadamia nuts and walnuts can be toxic, too, causing vomiting and tremors. And those turkey drippings bring with them all the same issues as the turkey itself.
Instead, offer some plain sweet potatoes. When you’re cooking, set aside a few cubes just for the furry members of the family.
Dessert: The ending is often the best part of the meal, right? But watch your pet around the dessert table.
The sugars, fats, and dairy used in desserts can cause digestion problems. Nutmeg can trigger seizures. Chocolate, which contains theobromine, can be toxic for your pet. And xylitol, used in sugar-free and no-sugar-added baked goods, can even be deadly for your dog or cat.
Instead, set aside some plain pumpkin cubes or canned pumpkin when you’re making the pie. Your pet will enjoy it just as much as the pie itself, but with no risk of disaster.
Safety shouldn’t stop with the dinner
Besides the food, watch the decor, which your pets might mistake for food.
Lillies, for example, are deadly for cats, and some types can be toxic for dogs, too. Amaryllis, holly, bergamot orange, and chrysanthemums could all be poisonous as well.
And watch out for other centerpieces such as potpourri.
Be on the lookout for any changes in your pet’s behavior as well as vomiting or diarrhea, all of which could be signs that she’s eaten something toxic or dangerous.