Thanksgiving is all about spending time with loved ones—human and animal alike. So it makes sense that we’re tempted to fix Fido a plate of all the scrumptious holiday food we’re eating, right? But wait! Put down the serving spoon. Are you sure that’s safe for your pet? Here’s what you need to know.
Ten Thanksgiving dangers. Some foods are totally off-limits to our furry pals. Ten of them are especially common around the holidays. Just say no to:
•sage •shocolate •candy with xylitol •bread dough •batter with raw eggs •onions and garlic •macadamia nuts •raisins and grapes •rich or spicy foods •alcohol
Let’s talk turkey. Good news for Fido! ASPCA experts say a little bite of plain turkey is usually safe for pets. If you decide to share, remember: Only boneless, well-cooked turkey is OK. Giving your pet undercooked or bone-in turkey, fat or gristle, or cooked bones for chewing is not OK.
Don’t overdo it. Lots of us overindulge at the Thanksgiving table, but when our pets do, it can be a real problem. It’s best to keep pets on their normal diets during the holidays, but if you do decide to share your holiday spread, make it just a taste. Eating too much can give your dog diarrhea, upset stomach, or even pancreatitis.
Play it safe. If your dog or cat consumes any potentially harmful foods or products, please consult your veterinarian, or the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 or www.aspca.org/apcc.
It’s perfectly normal for puppies and dogs to chew on objects as they explore the world. For young dogs, it’s a way to relieve pain that might be caused by incoming teeth. For older dogs, it’s a way to keep jaws strong and teeth clean.
But sometimes natural chewing can become destructive for dogs seeking to combat boredom or relieve mild anxiety or frustration. Dogs who chew to relieve the stress of separation anxiety usually only chew when left alone or chew most intensely when left alone.
So what can you do if your best friend’s chewing turns destructive? Puppies and adult dogs should have a variety of appropriate and attractive chew toys. However, just providing the right things to chew isn’t enough to prevent inappropriate chewing. Dogs need to learn what is okay to chew and what is not.
What to Do If Your Dog Is a Destructive Chewer
"Dog-proof" your house. Put valuable objects away until you’re confident that your dog’s chewing behavior is restricted to appropriate items. Keep shoes and clothing in a closed closest, dirty laundry in a hamper and books on shelves. Make it easy for your dog to succeed.
Provide your dog with plenty of his own toys and inedible and edible chew bones. Introduce something new or rotate your dog’s chew toys every couple of days so he doesn’t get bored with the same old toys.
Discourage chewing inappropriate items by spraying them with chewing deterrents.
Do your best to supervise your dog during all waking hours until you feel confident that his chewing behavior is under control.
Provide your dog with plenty of physical exercise (playtime with you and with other dogs) and mental stimulation. If you have to leave your dog alone for more than a short period of time, make sure he gets out for a good play session.
Some dogs are naturally inclined to dig, and though it is perfectly normal behavior most of the time, it can be troublesome for pet parents who don’t particularly care for holes in their yard and furniture.
So why do they do it? Dogs often dig at the ground and circle before lying down, as though they’re trying to make a softer resting place. Dogs also dig when trying to get warm or stay cool, to entertain themselves, to bury valued items, and when hunting ground-dwelling animals.
What to Do If Your Dog Digs
• If Your Dog Digs to Keep Cool or Get Comfortable
Dogs living outside in very hot or cold weather often dig holes to sleep in, especially if they don’t have access to proper shelter, like an insulated doghouse. Even with a suitable doghouse, some dogs prefer to retreat under a deck and dig a big hole.
• If Your Dog Digs to Entertain Herself
Many dogs dig for the fun of it. This type of digging is the hardest to treat because the action of digging is rewarding in and of itself. To achieve success, rather than attempting to eliminate the behavior, try to redirect your dog’s digging to an acceptable place.
• If Your Dog Digs to Bury Her Stuff
The best way to eliminate this type of digging is to refrain from giving your dog treats, food or chew bones that she will not finish immediately. Alternatively, you can build your dog a digging pit and encourage her to bury items there, instead of in your favorite flower bed.
• If Your Dog Digs to Hunt Small Animals
Most dogs love to chase small, fast-moving furry creatures, even if they never actually try to catch them. If your dog digs to pursue small animals like moles, chipmunks and ground squirrels, you can set live traps and humanely remove those animals from your property.
Fall marks the time of year when trees begin to drop their fruit and leaves. In general, this is a good thing, right? But pet parents should be aware that certain tree fruits can be deadly to dogs.
One fruit in particular–the Chinaberry tree (Latin Melia)—is valued for its high quality lumber. Native to Asia, this tree was introduced in the United States around 1830 as an ornamental, but today has become invasive in many areas. As the tree’s marble-sized fruits mature and drop to the ground, dogs sometimes eat and play with them. Natural, poisonous molecules in the fruit can cause severe digestive upset in dogs, often with stomach cramping, bloody vomiting and bloody diarrhea. Seizures can occur in more serious cases, and death can result. We see this problem in dogs every autumn across the United States.
And horse lovers, we need to isolate our noble friends from red maple (L. Acer rubrum) trees. As red maple leaves begin to change colors and wilt, a deadly poison begins to develop. If eaten by a horse, the leaf can cause severe illness and even death. The poison in the wilted leaf has not yet been identified, but it makes its way into the bloodstream where it attacks red blood cells. Once enough destruction of red blood cells has occurred, a horse cannot get enough oxygen to the brain and other vital tissues. Poisoned horses can die if not treated in time by a veterinarian.
Just like fad diets for humans, popular diets for your pets come and go. However, there’s one particular pet diet trend that gives us pause: ASPCA experts say raw food diets for pets that include raw meat, eggs and milk may be dangerous for your furry friends. We typically recommend that pet parents opt for well-balanced, high-quality commercial and cooked foods instead.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) agrees. In studies published in AVMA’s journal, homemade and commercial raw food diets for dogs and cats were found to contain dangerous bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella, just to name a few. Other tests showed that unprocessed food diets can lead to nutrient deficiencies or excess that can cause serious illnesses in pets. Also, pets chewing on raw bones can lead to obstruction or perforation of their gastrointestinal tracts, and fractured teeth.
If you don’t want to feed your dog or cat a commercial diet, consider a homemade diet that will diminish the risks of foodborne illnesses. These meals should be thoroughly cooked and need to be formulated by a veterinary nutritionist or by your veterinarian to make sure they’re nutritionally sound.
If you are passionate about feeding your pet raw foods, please consider the following tips.
Work with your veterinarian to ensure that your pet’s diet is nutritionally balanced.
Avoid feeding raw foods in homes with babies and toddlers (who put lots of things in their mouths), the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.
Practice regular hand washing before and after feeding pets.
Practice appropriate disposal methods when cleaning up pet feces.