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Pet Vet: Don't let your pet join in Thanksgiving feast

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"Is fat good for dogs?" my father asked, a big glob of steak fat dangling from his fork, his dog drooling at his feet.

He should've known the answer. After all, I'd just finished lecturing him on the fact that he shouldn't keep feeding his dog so much human food.

But the older my dad got, the sillier he became about feeding his dog.

"He won't eat for me if I only put kibble in his bowl," he'd complain.

"That's because he's waiting for his mashed potatoes and gravy," I'd reply in a disapproving tone, which had little to no effect on his determination to feed his dog any darn thing he liked. And despite my dire warnings, his dog lived to a ripe old age after living a happy, healthy life.


Despite the fact that my own father chose to turn a deaf ear to my advice, I'm hoping the rest of you will listen and avoid illness in your pets over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Poultry bones

These bones can splinter, causing gastrointestinal distress. Don't feed them to your pets. Take extra precautions so your pets can't invade your post-Thanksgiving scrumptious, bone-filled garbage.

Gravy, fat and trimmings

Although my dad's dog somehow did just fine, these high-fat foods can make your dog sick with diarrhea, vomiting, and/or pancreatitis.

Chives, garlic and onions

These can prove toxic for pets if eaten in large-enough amounts. Patients may suffer vomiting, diarrhea, or red blood cell damage (especially cats).



Cats are particularly sensitive to the essential oils present in sage. Consumption of this stuffing herb can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and central nervous system depression.


Dark baking chocolate is the most dangerous for pets, because it contains the highest concentration of theobromine. Pets that accidentally consume chocolate can suffer vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, seizures, and even death. (Thank goodness this isn't true for people. That would be sad, indeed.)


This is a popular sugar substitute in sugar-free gum, breath mints, candy, and desserts. A pet that eats food containing xylitol can suffer life-threatening low blood sugar and liver failure.

Raw bread dough

It can rise in your dog's stomach just like it does in an oven. This results in vomiting, abdominal pain, and bloat. During bloat, the stomach can enlarge and twist, a life-threatening situation that requires immediate surgery.

Don't forget to set strict rules for your holiday company. Kindhearted visitors might be tempted to slip your begging pets some of their Thanksgiving meal, never realizing that this may make your pet sick.


Ann M. Anderson, DVM, is a veterinarian at Quarry Hill Park Animal Hospital in Rochester.

Related Topics: FOOD
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