Ruff Times

LaCava's Mobile Veterinary Service Blog
Keeping your pet safe this Thanksgiving
Published by Dr. Cassandra LaCava in Thanksgiving Dangers • 11/18/2014 12:40:26 PM
It's time to give thanks for all you have and the people and pets that fill your life with joy! With celebration brings potential dangers for your best friend, so let's discuss the most common hazards you may encounter this Thanksgiving.

Fatty Foods

We tend to eat fatty and rich foods during the holiday season, so it's best to keep your pet out of the kitchen when cooking to avoid them catching anything that may drop. Fatty table scraps like gravy, turkey skin, etc. are potentially dangerous to your dog, as it can result in severe pancreatitis. Certain breeds are especially sensitive, including miniature schnauzers, Shetland sheepdogs, and Yorkshire terriers. Even a piece of bacon can trigger pancreatitis in dogs, so when in doubt, don’t feed it to your dog or cat! Remember to get the trash out of the house right after cleaning up. They will somewhow find their way to all the yummy leftovers, which can result in “garbage gut” include gastroenteritis (e.g., vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain), pancreatitis (severe inflammation of the pancreas), a gastrointestinal obstruction, or even tremors or seizures.

Poultry bones

While you may think you’re giving your dog a treat, you’re actually putting him at risk for a possible foreign body obstruction. Never give your dog poultry bones—they can splinter easily and stick in the esophagus, stomach, or intestines.

Common ingredients in Thanksgiving food

Many of our favorite Thanksgiving foods have potentially toxic ingredients that can harm your furry friend.

Please do not give your pet anything containing: Grapes, raisins, and currants. Currants and raisins are commonly found in stuffing, baked goods, and as snacks. Ingestion can result in severe acute kidney failure. Stuffing can also contain sage, which can cause an upset tummy!

Onions, leeks, chives, and garlic are also toxic. When ingested, these common kitchen foods can result in oxidative damage to the red blood cells. Cats are especially sensitive to severe anemia. As always, no chocolate or candy for your pet, either!

Nutmeg is another food popular in pumpkin dishes. In a high enough quantity, it can cause seizures, so please no nutmeg!!

Some foods may also contain nuts. Macadamia nuts and walnuts should be avoided, as well. Consumption can lead to tremors, vomiting, even shock.


Some calorie counting bakers may be using sugar substitutes while baking. Xylitol, a natural sugar-free sweetener, is a sugar substitute used in a ton of products nowadays: gums, mints, mouth washes, nasal sprays, chewable vitamins, baked goods, chocolate, etc. This may help us cut down on the sugar, but ingestion of this substance can cause a severe hypoglycemia in your pet. If you have a friend who has made something and you'd like to share it with your pet, please verify they did not use xylitol.


Alcohol poisoning can from sources you wouldn't expect (e.g., unbaked bread dough, rum-soaked fruitcake, etc.). Likewise, dogs can be poisoned by ingesting alcoholic drinks, so keep the mixed drinks and beer away from your dog. Accidental ingestion can cause severe coma, slowed respiration, and a life-threatening low blood sugar in your dog.

Unbaked bread dough

Are you going to bake some homemade bread for the holiday? Make sure your dog doesn’t eat the unbaked dough first. When this occurs, your dogs stomach acts as an artificial oven, making the yeast rise and release carbon dioxide, causing a distended abdomen and potential life-threatening gastric dilatation-volvulus. The yeast and sugar in the unbaked dough are metabolized to alcohol, which could result in secondary alcohol poisoning in your dog.


Family is coming! It's wonderful to spend time with family, but sometimes they do not understand the dangers certain foods pose to your pet. Dogs should not sleep under the table while dinner is being served. This will eliminate the worry of accidentally dropping food, or food being given by a well-meaning guest. Politely inform all your guests to keep their food out of reach and to never feed your pet without your permission (particularly if your pet has food allergies). Watch the door as guests enter and leave. An open door is an invitation for a dog to flee a busy house for the world outside. So as guests arrive and leave, keep an eye on your dog—or, if he's shy and upset by company, keep him in a quieter part of the house during noisy festivities.

If you think your dog or cat ingested something poisonous, contact your veterinarian or When it comes to any poisoning situation, the sooner you diagnose it, the easier it is to potentially treat.

Have a fun and safe Thanksgiving!!