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Thanksgiving pet safety

Thanksgiving is a special holiday that brings together family and friends. It also can bring some hazards for pets. Follow these tips to keep your pets healthy and safe during the holiday.

Health risks

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

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 pet. Chocolate can be harmful for pets, even though many dogs find it tempting and will sniff it out and eat it. The artificial sweetener xylitol—commonly used in gum and sugar-free baked goods—also can be deadly if swallowed by dogs or cats.

Yeast dough can cause problems for pets, including painful gas and potentially dangerous bloating.

Put the trash away where your pet can’t find it. A turkey carcass sitting out on the table, or left in a trash container that is open or easily opened, could be deadly to your family pet. Dispose of turkey carcasses, bones, and scraps—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. 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 has lists of plants that are toxic to dogs and cats, but the safest route is simply to keep your pet away from all plants and table decorations.

Quick action can save lives. If you believe your pet has been poisoned or has eaten something they shouldn’t have, immediately call your veterinarian or local veterinary emergency clinic. You also can call the ASPCA Poison Control Center (888-426-4435) or the Pet Poison Helpline (855-764-7661); note that a fee may apply. Signs that something might be wrong with your pet include sudden behavior changes, depression, discomfort or pain, vomiting, and/or diarrhea. Contact your veterinarian immediately if your pet shows any of these signs.

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