Thanksgiving dogs

What is one of the busiest days of the year in most veterinary hospitals?

If you guessed the Friday after Thanksgiving, then give yourself a pat on the back.

There is no doubt Thanksgiving is a wonderful time for families to get together and enjoy great company and delectable food. Undoubtedly many of our pets join in the fun, but too many end up at a veterinarian’s office on Friday because of something they ate the day before.

Overindulging in the family feast can be unhealthy for humans, but even worse for pets. Fatty foods are hard for many animals to digest, turkey (and other) bones can damage your pet’s digestive tract, and holiday sweets can contain ingredients that are poisonous to pets.

For many pets, eating turkey or turkey skin — sometimes even a small amount — can cause a life-threatening condition known as pancreatitis. And many foods we humans love are poisonous to pets including onions, raisins, grapes, chocolate, coffee, macadamia nuts and items sweetened with Xylitol. Those yeast dough rolls we love can cause painful gas or potentially deadly bloat in some dogs.

Of course, prevention is the best medicine so educate children and guests as well to not give your pets treats you have not approved. And just like us, moderation can go a long way to having a happy and healthy pet.

But what do you do if you think your pet has ingested something dangerous? Or what if your pet gets into the garbage while everyone is watching football and you realize the entire turkey carcass is gone?

First, don’t panic as keeping a calm and clear head will go a long way to helping your pet survive. If your pet is having seizures, in severe distress, vomiting, losing consciousness, is unconscious or is having difficulty breathing, call ahead and take your pet immediately to your veterinarian or emergency veterinary clinic.

If at all possible, take a few minutes to safely collect the food or product ingested or any resulting vomit in a sealable plastic bag or other clean container and take along to the vet.  

If you or your vet want to talk to animal poison experts, there are two resources available 24 hours a day for consultation and advice: One is the Pet Poison Helpline™ at 855-764-7661 ( which has a $59 per incident fee; another is the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 ( and it has a $65 consultation fee. The ASPCA APCC also has a handy app you can download to your phone for your education and to contact it easily.

Prevention is always best and can go a long way to your family and pets having a peaceful Thanksgiving holiday at home. Please keep your pet from ingesting food and other items that may harm them or from gorging on too many leftovers as it can cause stomach upset in your pet just like it does us. But if your pet does overindulge or gets into the leftover scraps and exhibits the first sign of trouble, please do not delay and get your pet to your veterinarian as soon as possible. And remember to never administer over-the-counter human medications to your pet(s) before speaking with a veterinarian or toxicology professional first.