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HSEC NEWS: Thanksgiving Safety Planning Should Include Your Pets

As all of us look forward to Thanksgiving, time with family and friends, and all that yummy food, there is one group that rather dreads the aftermath of Thanksgiving – Veterinarians. Why is that? The days after Thanksgiving tend to be terribly busy for emergency Veterinary Hospitals as they deal with pets that have eaten far too much rich human food and are suffering the results. 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 that we humans love are poisonous to pets including onions, raisins, grapes, chocolate, coffee, macadamia nuts & 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 & 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 that 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, telephone 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 wants to talk to animal poison experts, there are two resources available 24-hours/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 a $65 consultation fee may apply. The ASPCA APCC also has a handy App you can download to your phone for your education and to contact them 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 soonest. And remember to NEVER administer over-the-counter human medications to your pet(s) before speaking with a veterinarian or toxicology professional first!