By LuAnn McLean
With Thanksgiving fresh in our memories and leftovers fresh in our refrigerators, we must remind ourselves not to indulge pets with human food treats during the holidays.
Gravies, sauces, butter, oils, and grease from cooked meat are among the foods that should not be given to pets. Table foods should rarely, if ever, be given to pets.
When a pet experiences gastric upset during the holiday season, it is most often caused by consumption of foods too high in fat. Fat, skin, and fatty meats such as steak and lamb should be avoided for dogs and cats because of the digestive problems they can cause.
Our companion animals should never be given cooked bones from turkey or chicken. These bones can be deadly since they are hollow, brittle and will splinter into fragments which can cut and tear internally.
I'll admit that when we cook turkey at our house, the cats may get a few small cooked pieces. We know it is too rich for the dogs, especially our tiny dog. They never get bones.
Any bone can pose dangers for dog or cat. Many veterinarians advise against any type of bone for dogs. A few are very adamant about it, having seen the results of blockage caused by chunks of bone.
A pet with a bone lodged in her intestines may not show signs of it for a day or two. Symptoms may include loss of appetite, depression, vomiting, or diarrhea. Sometimes surgery is required to remove the bone.
Some vegetables, cooked or raw, are generally safe. Small amounts of whole grain breads are also tolerated well by most pets. Both our dogs will eat raw carrots. Our cats will also eat cooked vegetables if the fancy strikes them.
Another ailment that can affect pets after eating turkey is salmonella poisoning. The same risk that exists for humans if the inner part of the turkey has not been adequately cooked exists to some extent for our pets. If any salmonella is present due to inadequate cooking, sitting at room temperature will allow the salmonella to multiply. Should someone, including a pet, eat turkey that has been sitting out, that someone may become sick.
Symptoms of salmonella poisoning include gastrointestinal upset, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, a high temperature, loss of appetite, and listlessness.
Strings used to tie meats while cooking need to be disposed of carefully, too, since pets will be attracted to them. If left in a waste can or garbage, the scent may attract a pet and entice him to get into it. Severe intestinal obstructions are often the result of cats or dogs eating these meat-flavored stings.
Stick with healthy pet treats if it seems necessary to give a little something extra or special to your pet during this time. The variety of pet treats available is enormous. A good quality canned food can also be a nice supplement to a pet that is fed mostly on dry food.
Certain health problems in our pets may also make it necessary to avoid extra foods. Always be careful if your pet has been put on a special diet for a particular reason.
Weight problems can pose a health problem for pets. Giving a little extra to a pet, especially a small pet, can make a bigger difference than most of realize. Giving our pet a little piece of cheese can be equivalent to a human adult eating a package of cheese!
Keep your pets healthy and safe during these holiday weeks to come! If you would like to write to Pawsitively Pets with questions or stories about your pet, please send your letter to P.O. Box 1731, Havre, MT 59501.