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Stuff the Turkey, Not Your Dog

Here are some tips to ensure the holidays are just as relaxing for your pet as they are for you.

Stuff the Turkey, Not Your Dog

The following letter was submitted to Highland Park-Mount Washington Patch Handle With Care Dog Training owner Lezle Stein.

The fragrant smell of Thanksgiving dinner permeating throughout your home is likely to whip your four-legged friend into a food frenzy. Unfortunately, the holiday meal could be lethal for your pet. Following a few simple precautions, you will ensure the upcoming holiday weekend will be happy and healthy for the entire family. 

When planning for Thanksgiving, consider the following:

  1. Don’t give your animal different food than they would normally get. Discourage your family members and guests from indulging your pet with inappropriate snacks. Food high in sodium (especially peanuts and chips) and other fatty foods like poultry skin, beef or pork fat can cause an inflammation of the pancreas. Pancreatitis is potentially life-threatening condition. Symptoms include loss of appetite, severe and frequent vomiting, diarrhea that may contain blood, reluctance to walk, weakness, pain, crying, restlessness, irritability, or refusing to eat. Many people know their dog is sick, but may be confused as to whether or not it's serious because of a lack of symptoms or symptoms being vague. Pancreatitis may occur only once in a dog's life or it can become chronic. It can quickly become fatal or just be a mild attack of pain that is over in a few hours or a day or so. It can cause serious side effects including shock, blood clotting disorders, heart arrythmias, and liver or kidney damage. So if your pet exhibits ANY of these signs, even if mild at first, get him to your vet immediately! And know where emergency hospitals are.
  2. Dispose of aluminum foil, plastic wrap, and wax paper from holiday foods. If you pet can get to it, he or she will lick the food off foils or wraps. The swallowing of such coverings can cause an intestinal obstruction.
  3. Secure your garbage. It only takes a minute for your dog to get into the garbage and wolf down whatever smells good—including the string used to tie the turkey.
  4. Make sure your furry friend has fresh water at all times. Frequently check your pet’s water bowl to make sure the supply is clean. Busy children and relatives may bump a bowl and spill the water.
  5. Keep chocolate away from your dog. Chocolate, which contains theobromine and caffeine, can be harmful to your pooch. Rapid breathing and hyperactivity are signs of a bad reaction to chocolate.
  6. Turkey bones are dangerous for you pet. Any brittle, spiky bone could lodge in the esophagus or cause an irritation of his or her stomach or intestines.
  7. Maintain your dog's regular schedule for feeding and exercise. Minimizing the stress for your pet means being aware of his daily routine and expectations. Pay as much attention to your pet as usual so that he will not feel neglected or insecure. Provide a quiet refuge for your animal. With all the holiday fanfare, your pet may need a “time out” from visiting friends and family. A comfortable crate is one solution; a room with a “Do Not Disturb” sign is another. Give your dog or cat time and space to settle down or take a nap
  8. If there are many guests coming into the home around the holidays this may pose a dangers to pets. A child who does not know how to properly interact with a dog may end up the victim of a dog bite. As guests enter and exit the home for Thanksgiving dinner , this provides an opportunity for dogs to escape, so all pets should be secured when holiday guests are expected. Keep current registration and identification tags on you pet. With guests coming in and out of your home, it is very easy for a door to be left ajar and for your animal to wander off.
  9. A visitor may feed an inappropriate or toxic food to a dog resulting in a holiday pet poisoning incident. And a houseguest may leave inappropriate and potentially toxic food items (i.e. chocolates) inside their guestroom or in their open luggage - easy pickings for a curious  dog. Educate guests about the do's and don't's inside a home with a pet.

By being aware of these dangers to your pet, you can ensure both you and your pet the best possible holidays. Now go eat!

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