Turkey dinner staples that can be deadly for cats and dogs
Thankful pet owners should be wary of feeding their furballs from the table this Turkey Day.
Cats and dogs are known for upping the ante on their treat-begging come Thanksgiving’s turkey and pumpkin pie-fueled feasts. But as tasty as the holiday’s popular foods and ingredients are to people, many are highly toxic to animals.
“Black Friday is known in both veterinary clinics and emergency hospitals as a notoriously busy day for all sorts of gastrointestinal issues in dogs,” Erin Sawyer, chief medical officer and co-founder of the dog training app GoodPup, told The Post.
She advised uninviting pets from the feast altogether: “Prevention is key — do not allow guests to feed your pets any human food. Safeguard and keep your pets separated from Turkey Day events to prevent any accidental ingestion of unsafe foods.”
If you’re careful, rest assured that Black Friday likely won’t be spent in line at the vet’s office.
“Most make people it through Thanksgiving without any major issue,” reassured Dr. Jeremy Kimmelstiel, veterinarian and medical director at the Upper West Side’s Bond Vet pet clinic.
For those unable or unwilling to put away Fido and Whiskers for the day, here’s a breakdown of what specifically to avoid feeding them and to make sure they don’t get their paws on.
Butter and other fats
“Really anything fatty is something we worry about, especially in dogs,” said Kimmelstiel. Those kinds of foods can be hard on a canine’s pancreas and lead to the poor fluffballs developing a condition called pancreatitis, which causes vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, dehydration and other discomforts.
In the days after Thanksgiving, Kimmelstiel said, vets often see a spike in pooches suffering from the acute — as opposed to chronic — version of pancreatitis.
For those who can’t bear to not give their big-eyed hound some shreds of table scraps, “The key, it should be white meat and not super seasoned,” Kimmelstiel advised.
Vegetables which are classed as alliums — including garlic, chives, onions and scallions — are not as frequently the culprit of pets needing medical attention as fats, but they still cause the periodic bad reaction. “In high quantities, these types of food can cause changes in cats’ and dogs’ red blood cell count,” said Kimmelstiel. Garlic and onions are the most frequent of the veggies to cause animals’ bad reactions.
Raisins, currants, grapes
Why these foods are so bad for certain cats and, more frequently, dogs is something of a mystery, said Kimmelstiel. But they’re worth avoiding at all costs, as when pets do have a poor reaction to them, it can be fatal.
“We don’t know which dogs are going to be affected by the ingestion” of grapes, raisins or currants, said Kimmelstiel, but for those in which it does, “it will cause kidney failure.”
Docs try to save those dogs by inducing vomiting if the pooch ate the sweets recently, and then keeping them on intravenous fluids for a few days. While many pups may have no problem eating any of these treats, any risk makes them worth avoiding Kimmelstiel said. “If I had to bet on it, they probably wouldn’t get sick, but I wouldn’t take the chance.”
Sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie
While potatoes and pumpkin are generally “totally fine” to feed pets, owners should be wary of candied toppings ingredients that can quickly turn lethal. “The concern is if there’s any melted marshmallow on top,” said Kimmelstiel. If there is, and if it’s sugar-free, it may contain xylitol — a popular ingredient in sugar-free gum — which can cause dangerously low blood sugar and liver failure in animals.
“That’s a very serious one,” said Kimmelstiel, and it “happens quickly.”
The namesake treat of Thanksgiving is a popular ingredient in pet food, but the way humans prepare it for the holiday often makes it dangerous for a healthy cat or hound.
A delicious Thanksgiving turkey “tends to be really fatty,” said Kimmelstiel. A deliciously oily and buttery turkey skin may make humans happy, but eating it is also a leading cause of why pups end up at the emergency room with acute pancreatitis on Black Friday, he said.
Another hidden danger of feeding turkey to pets is the ingestion of cooking twine, which many people wrap their turkey in and can cause intestinal obstruction when eaten, especially by cats.
‘Chewing on bones can cause damage to the gastrointestinal tract.’
The turkey carcass is also not a safe treat.
“That’s going to be a very high-value reward for whatever cat or dog lives in that house,” said Kimmelstiel, but owners should be wary of bones. “Chewing on bones can cause damage to the gastrointestinal tract.” Another red flag: turkey baking bags, which a dog or cat could tear into and find themselves consuming plastic bag bits.
Certain kinds of food rot and moldy toxins can also set in on a turkey carcass after a few days.
The flower, a popular choice in floral decorations around the holiday season, should be put out of reach of curious pets as “it can cause vomiting,” said Kimmelstiel. He recommended owners check out the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ extensive toxic and non-toxic plant portal to determine the toxicity of any greenery before bringing it into a home with pets.
Mind the calories
In addition to all of the other problem foods owners should be wary of, it’s important to also keep in mind that cats and dogs need far fewer calories than people.
“A cat’s daily intake should be [approximately] 200 calories a day,” said Kimmelstiel. “At a typical Thanksgiving feast, I would imagine a human intakes 4,000 calories,” he estimated. While it’s fine for dogs and cats to occasionally enjoy a treat, feeding them in great excess is a fast way to ruin their health — possibly forever.