Vet Blog

What Are Your Pets Having for Thanksgiving Dinner?

November 25, 2019

If you ask any of our veterinarians, the answer is pancreatitis.

It's the most common turkey-day-related ailment we see right after this holiday feast. The next thing we see a lot of is good 'ole fashioned V/D. (That's vomiting and diarrhea.) We typically see some issues from ingesting toxic foods as well.

Thanksgiving is about sharing food with the ones we love. When I look down and see their precious little eyes looking back at me, begging for a bite… it takes everything inside not to just fix them their own plate! But it's in that moment I have to remind myself that to love them is to say no. Their bodies are not designed to metabolize the same kind of foods ours are. So let's talk about what they can't have and why.

  • Ham - It's very high in fat and is the number one culprit behind pancreatitis. It also causes vomiting and diarrhea. Because it's so high in calories, even just a few bites can do more harm than good.
  • Bones - Indigestion they can cause is the least of your concerns. Whether turkey, ham, or chicken, dogs should never be given bones. You can end up with bowel obstructions and splintered bones causing tears in the stomach and intestinal lining. At best you're faced with a miserable pet and an expensive surgery, at worst…
  • Undercooked food - Turkey that isn't quite done can contain salmonella and undercooked yeast rolls contain a small but harmful amount of alcohol.
  • Stuffing/Dressing - These are traditionally made with garlic, scallions, or onions which can cause anemia. Pets need immediate medical care if these are ingested.
  • Green bean casserole - While the green beans by themselves are a healthy treat for dogs, the casserole usually contains onions and dairy, making it a recipe for vomiting, diarrhea, and a vet visit.
  • Mashed potatoes - The same goes for this one. The high fat and dairy content will cause vomiting and diarrhea but many recipes call for garlic/onion powder, which, again, is toxic.
  • Grapes/Raisins - Salads and desserts with these two evil fruits of the veterinary world can lead straight to renal failure. If your pet eats grapes or raisins, head straight to an emergency hospital. Quickly.
  • Chocolate - Last but certainly not least is chocolate. Any kind is dangerous, but the darker it is, the more toxic it is. If your pet eats chocolate, try to find out what kind, if you can, and head straight to the closest animal hospital.

What Is Pancreatitis?

Dr. Tackett put together a helpful infographic, so she's going to help us out with this one. Pancreatitis is intense, painful inflammation of the pancreas. It's a little organ with a big job! It produces digestive enzymes and hormones that are vital to your pet's bodily functions. In dogs with pancreatitis, the main cause is rich, fatty foods. Cats are even more likely to get it than dogs are but the causes are more obscure.

What Are the Symptoms of Pancreatitis?

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression/lethargy
  • Shock

What Is the Treatment for Pancreatitis?

  • X-rays
  • Ultrasounds
  • IV fluids
  • Anti-nausea medication
  • Blood tests
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Strict diet restriction during recovery and aftercare

Beware the Dumpster Diver!

I can't tell you how many times I've seen the following scenario: technicians and doctors on the treatment floor with a very sad pup who's vomiting after being given activated charcoal because they chose to take a peek into the kitchen trash and temptation got the better of them… Many of us pet owners have learned not to give our pets the things we mentioned above. But oftentimes, we forget how powerful their noses are and how smart they can be when it comes to meeting the most basic of needs. I hear pet parents say all the time, "I don't even know how he got into the trash can!" or "She's never eaten anything from the trash before!" So on Thanksgiving day, after the kitchen's all cleaned but before you head to the living room for a nap or the football game, someone may want to take out the trash, just to be safe.