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Thanksgiving feast is not for Fido, vets say

Posted November 26, 2014

Helen Tart and her dog, Ali, are headed to Johnston County for a Thanksgiving pig picking. She definitely plans to share it with him.

“Depends on how cooperative he is as to how much pig he gets,” she said.

Ali won't be getting a ham bone. But a lot of people do give their dogs bones on Thanksgiving. Dr. Steve Marks, associate dean and director of Veterinary Medical Services at the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, advises pet owners to refrain from sharing most table scraps with their furry family members.

“We see a lot of bones. It can be any type of bone - they get stuck in the esophagus because it can't pass by the heart," Marks said. “It's a problem, and it puts the patient at risk, and there's really not a reason for it.”

It's not just bones that are hazardous for pets. Many people don't realize that turkey skin can also be a big problem, leading to vomiting and other gastrointestinal problems.

“It has a high content of fat, and high-fat diets predispose dogs - mostly dogs, sometimes cats - to diseases such as pancreatitis, which can be quite a life threatening disease if not treated effectively and quickly,” Marks said.

The same goes for any fatty food, from gravy to stuffing. Pets also shouldn’t be given foods with onions or garlic or chocolate.

But they can have a little white meat turkey or potato.

“Plain potato is fine, sweet potato is fine - just not in large amounts,” Marks said.

No matter how hard people try to keep their pets from unhealthy food, sometimes the animals decide help themselves, swiping food from the countertop in the blink of an eye.

Marks says it pays to take a minute to put food away before turning your back.

“You know, dogs and cats are both creative and often smarter than their owners, apparently, and they can get to places you can't imagine,” he said. “So, the best (place for food) is in a closed cupboard, oven, refrigerator, microwave - somewhere that they can't open.”

A couple more tips for a safe Thanksgiving: Make sure dogs and cats cannot get near a deep fryer, and make sure pets can’t run out an open door if you have guests.

And if something goes wrong, the emergency vet clinic at NCSU will be open 24 hours throughout the holiday weekend.


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