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The theme for 2020 seems to be “I’m not sure how this is going to go” (that is if you rule out obscenities.) Thanksgiving is coming up, and of course, I’m not sure how this is going to go. I know that gatherings outside your bubble aren’t going to be popular, but inside my bubble, I’ll still have plenty of food and pet dangers.

If you don’t keep in mind the possible things that could go wrong, they are more likely to go wrong. I am sure that you love your vet and the feeling is likely mutual, but there are better days

to see them. It may seem like a good excuse to escape, but likely the smaller “in bubble” gatherings of 2020 will be a little less drama-free.

Watch that turkey! Pets don’t care if it hasn’t been cooked yet, still has a giblet pouch in there (that is actually a big plus), or weighs as much as them. They see it, smell it, and would love it in their belly. Cats cover the high counters and love knocking things off. Dogs love it when food is knocked on the floor for them. Once it is cooked and golden brown glistening with butter... well even I can’t resist that.

Cooked poultry bones are very dangerous for pets to ingest. Cooking the bones makes them splinter when chewed. These splintered pieces travel through the gastrointestinal tract scraping and poking as they go. At best they cause GI upset, at worst they can rupture the intestines and cause life-threatening infections.

Keep the turkey well out of reach of any pets. While uncooked turkeys aren’t as harmful, it will still cause quite a bit of GI upset and pets will have some trouble passing all those bones. The amount of salt on turkeys before cooking is also too much for animals. Importantly, you will not have the time to brine and bake a second turkey while you are at the vet’s office. I can accomplish a lot of things while I’m at work, but I still mostly count on my mom to cook the turkey.

Bread dough expands A LOT- Think of how much bread dough rises, then imagine how much it will expand in an animal’s stomach. Even a small amount of dough can expand to almost the entire capacity of the stomach which causes great discomfort. A stomach provides a warm, dark environment that is perfect for dough rising. This can cause pains, intestinal blockage, and even movement of the stomach out of where it belongs (which is a dangerous, expensive surgery).

Additionally, the breakdown products of the yeast in the stomach ferment into alcohol. Animal livers lack some enzymes that ours have, so they are not able to process alcohol effectively or safely. Horses can more safely consume alcohol, but dogs and cats are a no. Alcohol absorption can cause irreversible liver damage. Which leads me to remind you... Don’t give pets alcohol.

I must preface by saying that I’m in the camp who don’t think drunk humans are especially endearing typically, but at least they chose that. People sometimes think it is funny to see their pets stumbling after taking a few laps of beer, but the amusement ends with an emergency vet bill. The beer promoting horses are cute, but dogs in liver failure don’t tend to be. Fat doesn’t just cause waistband problems.

Dogs are very susceptible to pancreatitis when they eat rich, fatty foods. Instead of simply taking a post-meal nap and undoing a button, they become very ill and usually require treatment with intravenous fluids, days of hospitalization, and pain medication.

Pancreatitis can cause serious problems if left untreated, and inflammation in the pancreas can lead to other abdominal issues. If you notice an empty gravy boat on the floor or a stick of butter missing, let your vet know right away. Cooked turkey skin, stuffing, potatoes with butter, and the like are all dangerous. If diet plans wouldn’t approve, neither will your dog’s pancreas.

It is alright to give your pets some Thanksgiving treats. Pets can have pumpkin, small amounts of cooked boneless turkey, some mashed potato free of butter, green beans, or other vegetables. The key is moderation. While it is difficult to moderate ourselves when faced with a feast, we can thankfully control how much our pets get. They are thankful to have a day with you. A family walk and time on the couch watching football is most dog’s dream day, so we don’t need to overcompensate with too much food. When you do add more treats then you should, cut back their food a little bit to balance. With smaller gatherings, we will likely have more food to eat ourselves, but that doesn’t mean our pets should.

Our pets have mastered the art of being thankful every day for all the small joys, so just take some time to pet, walk, and watch football with them. A huge bowl of treats is nice, but it is better to keep them healthy and happy with some quality time instead.

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