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Holiday pet dangers: Turkey bones, ribbons and yes, even fruitcake

Parson Jack Russell Terrier snatching at a treatAll dogs seem to know that if they sit beside the dinner table during the holidays, many humans will turn into complete softies and hand over fabulous table scraps.

As a result, some of these pets will spend the holidays in animal hospitals – places that aren’t exactly on Santa’s normal rounds.

So experts at BluePearl Veterinary Partners are urging pet owners to make sure they are giving safe foods to their dogs and cats this holiday season.

“If you want to include your cats and dogs in the holiday fun, give them pet treats,” said Dr. Shaunita Sharpe of BluePearl Veterinary Partners, who is board-certified in emergency and critical care. “They love them, and you won’t have to make a holiday trip to the ER.”

Store-bought pet treats from a reputable manufacturer are the easiest and safest. It’s also possible to make holiday treats, but pet owners should use great care to make sure all ingredients are safe. Learn more here.

Sharpe said dogs who are given too much fatty human food over the holidays can get gastronenteritis, which involves vomiting and diarrhea, or pancreatitis, which is an inflammation of the pancreas. If you’re dying to share the holiday meal with your pet, some very lean turkey meat or a cooked carrot can be safe options.

Don’t forget, pets also have a well-known tendency to eat food without asking permission, so make sure all your dishes are covered and out of reach. Who likes fruitcake? Rover, that’s who. But the raisins can make him sick.

While we’re talking about pet safety, here are a few other tips to make sure your pets remain happy and healthy during the holidays:

  • Be careful of ribbons or any other especially long, skinny doo-dads that are likely to fascinate your cat and wind up in her belly. Avoid tinsel if you have cats.
  • As the doors to your house swing open with each new guest or family member, make sure your pets don’t take the opportunity to slip out, where they could run into traffic.
  • Don’t assume it’s safe to give bones to your dog. Turkey bones are not safe for them, and many other bones also can be a hazard. Learn more here.
  • Many foods that are safe for humans are downright dangerous for your pets. The sugar substitute xylitol – used in sugar-free gum and some candies – can be lethal to dogs. Other foods that can make pets sick include chocolate, onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, caffeinated drinks, alcohol and yeast dough. Surprisingly, canned tuna designed for humans can make cats sick.

When  emergencies do occur, the veterinary emergency rooms at BluePearl hospitals are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including holidays. Find the closest BluePearl hospital here.

But we hope these tips will make sure everyone has a wonderful holiday season, including your furry family members.

“The holidays are a time for family and friends and socializing, but we need to remember our pets too, and make sure we keep them safe and happy,” Sharpe said.