December 21, 1998
Holiday treats and pets don't mix
As families gather around the dining table or living room to celebrate the holidays, the temptation rises to share some of the great food or treats with the family pets.
The Humane Society for Seattle/King County encourages everyone to consider the dangers involved when feeding turkey, gravy, yams with miniature marshmallows, or desserts to dogs, cats, or other types of pets. Feeding ones' animals some human food can lead to their sickness.
"Cats and dogs do best with never getting table scraps," explains Dr. Evelyn Bittner, senior veterinarian, who offers an alternative: "Dog owners who want to give treats can consider giving steamed or raw carrots or broccoli, without butter, of course."
- Begin with preventing your pets from having access to the food while it is being prepared in the kitchen. The tempting smells of simmering stuffing or the food left in the kitchen sink may be consumed by the pet allowed into the kitchen unsupervised.
- Chicken, pork, and turkey bones can often get stuck inside the roof of a pet's mouth, or splinter and puncture internal organs. Bones may also have spoiled meat or fat on them which can cause food poisoning.
- Pets can become uncomfortable and very sick by overdoing it on people food. Rich foods, such as gravies, turkey skin, or cream, can cause severe intestinal problems and are hard for pets to digest. Pancreatitis, inflammation of the pancreas, is severe and possibly fatal.
- Desserts are no fun, either. Chocolate contains chemicals that are toxic to cats and dogs. Again, confine pets so they don't lick the pumpkin pie or try the opened box of fudge or chocolates sitting out on the coffee table! As little as two ounces of dark chocolate can kill a 10-pound dog.
For cats, moderate amounts of fresh catnip may be sprinkled on a cat's scratching post or favorite toy.
Have the phone number and address of the nearest emergency animal clinic in a convenient place, just in case you need to get help for your pet during the holiday or late evening or morning hours.
The most common symptoms of animals affected by too much people food are vomiting and diarrhea. Pet owners need to monitor the animal closely, provide plenty of fresh water, and consult a veterinarian if the symptoms are still present after a few hours. If your pet has eaten a lot of chocolate, however, immediately call your vet or local poison control center.
Avoid costly veterinary bills and animal emergencies by taking these precautions around the holidays. Inform other members of the household and your guests, as well. Prevention is the best strategy for pet-proofing your home for the holidays.