Thanksgiving is a special holiday that brings family and friends together. But this holiday can be very dangerous- and we’re not talking about the carbs! Holiday feasts are full of foods that are dangerous to pets. Below is a list of common Thanksgiving foods that can be toxic or hazardous to your pets.
- Meat skin and fatty pieces of meat can cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and a lack of appetite. In some cases, a pet can develop pancreatitis which may require hospitalization.
- Raw and undercooked meat can cause a pet to become seriously ill. Don’t feed your pet uncooked meat and if you throw any raw meat trimmings into the trash, make sure it is secure so your pet can’t get into it.
- Cooked and uncooked meat bones are hazardous to pets. Uncooked bones can cause wounds in the mouth and fracture teeth. If swallowed, meat bones become stuck in the throat, esophagus, or GI tract. This will cause choking or in severe cases, an obstruction in the stomach or intestines which will require surgery. Cooked bones are brittle and can splinter which causes inflammation and damage to the GI tract. Some pets become constipated or have trouble passing sharp pieces of bone. Also, bones can become lodged in the mouth or the lower jaw. It’s not uncommon for a dog to come to our ER with a round ham bone stuck on his lower jaw.
- If you must give your pet a bit of turkey, please choose a lean, skinless, boneless, cut such as a cooked turkey breast piece. Do not give a piece that has any seasoning or added flavors and do not give your pet ham, pieces of meat with skin, or fatty pieces. Any meat cooked in butter, spices, or other fats can be harmful to your pet.
- While very small amounts of onions and garlic may not cause symptoms, a large amount can cause anemia. Symptoms include vomiting, blood in urine, lethargy or weakness, and panting. It is best to avoid all contact with onions and garlic, especially in cats and smaller dogs.
- Olives can cause GI symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. In small animals, eating the pits of an olive can cause additional issues. It’s best to avoid feeding your pet olives or any dishes that contain olives.
3. Mashed Potatoes (Dairy Products)
- Always be cautious about dairy products! Many pets are not able to process these products like we are. Vomiting and diarrhea are common symptoms. The fat content in cheese, butter, or cream can also be difficult for pets to digest.
4. Yeast Dough
- Making fresh rolls or bread? Yeast dough can cause severe illness in pets. The dough can rise and expand in your pet’s stomach. This can cause painful bloating and abdominal distention, vomiting, or retching. Another concern with yeast dough is alcohol poisoning.
- Chocolate contains methylxanthines which is very toxic to dogs. Different types of chocolate contain varying amounts of these toxins but the general rule of thumb is the darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more toxic it is!
6. Sugar-Free Sweets
- Xylitol is a very dangerous ingredient to dogs. Xylitol is often found in sugar-free candy, baked goods, desserts, some brands of peanut butter, gum, mints, and dental hygiene products. It is very dangerous to dogs because it can cause severely low blood sugar and liver failure.
7. Grapes, Raisins, and Currants
- Eating grapes, raisins, or even certain types of currants can cause renal failure and kidney failure in dogs. Unfortunately, the actual toxin in these foods are unknown and the amount eaten to cause symptoms varies from dog to dog.
- Wine is made with alcohol and grapes, which are both very toxic to pets. If a pet gets into an unattended glass of wine or a spilled bottle, it could cause alcohol poisoning or a grape toxicity.
- Nuts like pecans, walnuts, and almonds, contain a lot of oils and fats that can cause pancreatitis if eaten by your dog in large amounts. Another concern is that tree nuts have aflatoxin, a natural byproduct of mold which is toxic to pets. Also, nuts can also cause intestinal blockage if your pet swallows them whole. They can also be lodged in the intestines which would require surgery.
9. Fatty Foods and Table Scraps
- We already discussed fatty meat scraps, but other fatty foods like gravy or pie can also cause GI issues like vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and anorexia. If your pet eats too many fatty treats and human food, he/she is at risk of pancreatitis.
10. Moldy Food
- Seal the trash after you clean up dinner! Carcasses, packaging, trimmed fat, and food scraped off plates can make for a tempting garbage dive for our pets. This can be dangerous, especially if the food is moldy after sitting in the trash for a couple of days. We advise pet owners to take trash bags out to your curbside container or building’s dumpster immediately.
If your pet eats something they shouldn’t have, contact your family veterinarian or local animal emergency hospital. Immediate action can save your pet’s life! We hope you and your pet have a safe Thanksgiving, but if your pet does experience an emergency, both our Oakdale and Saint Paul clinics are open 24/7, every day of the year.
Written by Ashley Barott, DVM.