By Dr. Roger Krogstad, DVM
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC
What a wonderful time of year for family and friends to gather for food, fun, and football. For our pets, however, this means strange people invading their “sacred space” and many new exotic food temptations. For them Thanksgiving may not be special as new health hazards are introduced into their otherwise predictable world.
All of that delicious food for us can be harmful to our pets. Their digestive systems are used to processing a certain food at a certain time. Now here come the holiday treats. High fat from turkey skin or other meat drippings may cause a severe pancreatic reaction and a condition called pancreatitis, a serious illness that may require hospitalization to treat. Large amounts of new foods may cause a bacterial shift and present as vomiting and diarrhea. Bones are certainly forbidden as sharp splinters can damage delicate digestive systems.
Some common foods may be chemically harmful to our pets due to their unique physiology. Onions, grapes, and raisins can lead to severe blood changes or kidney damage. We have all heard about chocolate being poisonous to dogs. Small amounts of milk chocolate are not an issue, but dark baking chocolate has a high level of stimulant chemicals that could cause heart rhythm disruption. The latest bad foods for pets are power drinks with their high caffeine content. These can cause the same cardiac effect as chocolate.
Visiting pets can bring with them new health concerns. Are their vaccinations current, especially for respiratory disease? These are easily transmitted dog to dog. Slow introductions should be made to avoid territorial fights, and busy children should be cautioned about approaching nervous pets for the first time.
Many owners notice that when the company arrives, the cat disappears. This seclusion away from food and water may lead to increased kidney stress and urinary tract infections due to decreased hydration and decreased bladder emptying.
Even though Thanksgiving somewhat marks the beginning of winter, year-round heartworm and flea and tick medications should continue. Have a happy Thanksgiving, but keep the emergency veterinary phone numbers handy.
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC is located at 210 Airpark Road in Marshfield and online at wildwoodanimalhospital.net.