Some Tips for a Safe Thanksgiving for our Pets

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As we gather with our family and friends this weekend for food, fun and football, remember that our furry friends cannot always eat the same foods that we can. To avoid an expensive trip to the Animal ER, here are a few suggestions to keep your pets safe this Thanksgiving weekend.

Foods to Avoid:

  • Chocolate – especially dark chocolate or baking chocolate can be toxic to our pets.
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Onions and garlic
  • Coffee
  • Alcohol
  • Grapes and raisins
  • Yeast Dough
  • Fatty foods – can inflame the pancreas
  • Bones – of any kind, can splinter causing perforations or can break teeth
  • Xylitol – a sugar substitute

If you need to give a pet a taste of Thanksgiving, some turkey meat and green beans are ok.

Accidental poisonings often occur from the pets ingesting their human’s medications. I have had dogs get the pill containers off the cabinets and chew the whole bottle. Place your medications out of reach of your pets and make sure your guests do the same. Also remember that Tylenol is lethal to cats. Always check with your veterinarian before you give any medication to your pet. What is safe for humans may be deadly to our pets.

Decorations can also impose a danger to our pets. Electrical cords can be bitten, tinsel and ribbons swallowed. The water for the live trees may also pose a danger. You may want to elect to put your Christmas tree in a room that can be blocked off from your pets.

Candles and patio fire pits can also cause burns in our pets. Just last week, one of my patients brushed up to the fire pit and received a burn to his side. Cats can flick their tails into the flame or knock over a candle resulting in a fire.

Holiday flowers can also cause problems with our pets. Although the poinsettia has gotten a bad rap, it is not toxic but other houseplants such as lilies, holly berries and mistletoe are.

If your pet accidentally ingests something harmful, emergency advice is a phone call away. Call your veterinarian, emergency animal hospital of the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 ( a fee applies) or visit

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