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Great Falls veterinarian offers Thanksgiving safety tips for pets

Best Friends Animal Hospital owner Dr. Michael Norton
Posted at 4:23 PM, Nov 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-25 21:20:24-05

GREAT FALLS — If you’re thinking about feeding your pets some of your Thanksgiving meal, there are some things you need to keep in mind.

Feeding your pets too much food can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and even pancreatitis.

Best Friends Animal Hospital owner Dr. Michael Norton said this is something that frequently happens around Thanksgiving.

Dr. Norton explained that lean meat is better than meat with a high fat content. Other fatty foods like gravy, mashed potatoes, and sour cream should also be avoided. If you’re going to give your pet some turkey, make sure the meat doesn’t have any bones in it.

"Those bones are hollow and very sharp, so dogs, sometimes, when they eat those they'll take down shards of bone and that'll cause a lot of problems,” Norton said.



He also reminds people this is the time of year when anti-freeze is used in cars and salt is put down on the ground. If you have pets, make sure you use pet-safe anti-freeze and salt.

“Tragically, we always see anti-freeze poisoning this time of year,” said Norton.

As for the salt, the wrong kind of salt can burn your pets’ paws. “We see a lot of dogs show up with burned feet. The salt crystals will get into the paws and when they melt, it causes a tonicity problem and it burns their feet,” Norton said.

The American Veterinary Medical Association has more safety advice, including these tips:

  • Keep the feast on the table—not under it. Eating turkey or turkey skin – sometimes even a small amount – can cause a life-threatening condition in pets known as pancreatitis. Fatty foods are hard for animals to digest, and many foods that are healthy for people are poisonous to pets – including onions, raisins and grapes. If you want to share a Thanksgiving treat with your pet, make or buy a treat that is made just for them.
  • No pie or other desserts for your pooch. Chocolate can be harmful for pets, even though many dogs find it tempting and will sniff it out and eat it. The artificial sweetener called xylitol – commonly used in gum and sugar-free baked goods – also can be deadly if consumed by dogs or cats.
  • Yeast dough can cause problems for pets, including painful gas and potentially dangerous bloating.
  • Put the trash away where your pets can’t find it. A turkey carcass sitting out on the carving table, or left in a trash container that is open or easily opened, could be deadly to your family pet. Dispose of turkey carcasses and bones – and anything used to wrap or tie the meat, such as strings, bags and packaging – in a covered, tightly secured trash bag placed in a closed trash container outdoors (or behind a closed, locked door).
  • Be careful with decorative plants. Don’t forget that some flowers and festive plants can be toxic to pets. These include amaryllis, Baby’s Breath, Sweet William, some ferns, hydrangeas and more. The ASPCA offers lists of plants that are toxic to both dogs and cats, but the safest route is simply to keep your pets away from all plants and table decorations.
  • Quick action can save lives. If you believe your pet has been poisoned or eaten something it shouldn’t have, call your veterinarian or local veterinary emergency clinic immediately. You may also want to call the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline: 888-426-4435. Signs of pet distress include: sudden changes in behavior, depression, pain, vomiting, or diarrhea. Contact your veterinarian immediately.