Love Your Pets, but Don’t Feed Them Turkey



Thanksgiving is about sharing, but according to NBC Los Angeles (, before you are tempted to invite your cat or dog to join as you indulge in a mountain of goodies, you might consider an alternative treat.

The majority of emergency room for pet visits during the Thanksgiving holiday revolve around the turkey. Owners must abstain from feeding any table foods to their pets. Even a small piece of butter-coated vegetable can cause pancreatitis in certain pets. Clinical signs of pancreatitis include severe abdominal pain, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and depression. And don’t even think about adding a ladle of gravy to your pets’ kibble. Don’t risk it. Strange foods and diet changes are hazardous to your pets’ digestive system and can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and a very sick animal.

Refrain from giving any part of the turkey to your cat or dog. While it may seem like just a little piece of turkey skin couldn’t hurt your pet, it can also cause pancreatitis. If you suspect pancreatitis, take your pet to the vet immediately. Overweight dogs are even more at risk.

Cooked turkey bones are also very dangerous for pets. They can splinter and lodge in an animal’s throat or intestines with life-threatening consequences. The carcass can also create dangers as it may harbor salmonella, an organism that lives in the turkey’s intestinal tract. The cooking process usually kills all of the bacteria, but occasionally the center of the turkey may be undercooked, especially if it’s large or full of stuffing.

If the carcass sits out at room temperature for too long, the bacteria will multiply, and pets can become violently ill from eating it. Symptoms of salmonella poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, listlessness, fever, and loss of appetite. Make sure you either freeze the carcass or tie it up in a plastic bag and throw it out in a secure dumpster where no pets can get to it. The same goes for the string used to tie up the turkey; dripping with turkey juices, that string is a delicacy for cats and dogs just waiting for you to turn your back.

Your cat or dog doesn’t understand how dangerous the holidays really are for them, so as a responsible pet parent, you need to take control. With tasty morsels everywhere they look, even the best-behaved pet may be tempted to steal food from the kitchen counter or rummage through the garbage. So keep food pushed toward the back of counters. Incredibly, dogs have been known to pull whole turkeys off of ovens and tables!

Also, be sure to caution all guests, both kids and adults, not to give your pets anything except their normal food and treats. Non-pet owners are often unaware of the dangers of offering food from their plate to your begging pets.