ThanksgivingThe Gardner Animal Care Center Team would like to take this opportunity to wish your family and pets a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving.  This week marks the start of the holiday season.  The last thing any pet owner wants to do on Thanksgiving, Christmas, or the New Year is to rush their pet to the animal emergency room!  But, the truth is that many pets are injured or poisoned during these holidays.  How can you make sure your holiday doesn’t end in disaster?

During the holidays, most animal related ER visits are due to eating something inappropriate.  Some foods cause an upset stomach, some are poisonous, and some can cause life-threatening obstructions.  Research has shown that 60% of us will share our holiday meal with our pets, but you should follow a few basic guidelines.

A small amount of white turkey is an acceptable treat but definitely avoid the turkey skin and the turkey bones!  The skin is often fatty and can cause the pets to develop pancreatitis, a painful inflammation of the pet’s pancreas.  Poultry bones, especially cooked, have the potential to both break off and cause a perforation of the digestive tract, or if large amounts are consumed could cause an obstruction.

Other foods to avoid for their potential to cause severe illness or even toxic reactions include:  grapes and raisins, alcohol, excessively salty foods, foods flavored with onion or garlic powder, desserts and sweets containing Xylitol, and chocolates.  Baker’s chocolate can be fatal in small amounts if ingested by our pets.

The one thing we all look forward to after our Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners are the leftovers.  Your leftovers should be secured behind a pet-proof door or container.  Remember to keep your trash can secure.  Many items used in the meal preparation and then thrown away can be dangerous.  A turkey string, foil wrappers, etc may smell like food and be eaten by a curious pet.

What would the holidays be without the decorations?  My family takes rides through the neighborhoods every year to see the lights.  While these decorations are beautiful, our pets admire them too.  Decorative plants are a source of danger.  Mistletoe and holly can cause vomiting and lilies are often deadly to cats.  Poinsettias, despite their reputation, are not deadly and often cause little more than a mild stomach upset.

Houses with Christmas trees are another great source of danger for our pets.  Common decorations that attract our pets include ornaments, ribbons and tinsel.  These are especially attractive and hazardous to cats.  Watch the nicely wrapped presents to ensure your pet doesn’t try to peek.  In opening the gift, they may ingest the ribbon or bows.  Keep an eye on the electrical cords to insure puppies and kittens don’t chew on them.

Families look forward to the holidays because of the family gatherings.  In some instances, it might be best to keep pets confined if they are overly anxious.  Also, monitor people going in and out your doors.  Pets might take advantage and try to escape.  The holiday season is cold and pet’s, like us, need to be careful in frigid weather.  In our area, snow creates a visual barrier and drivers may not see a pet in time to stop, especially if the roads are icy or slippery with fresh fallen snow.

 The holiday season is a happy time for families, friends and our pets.  With preparation, our pets can stay safe and enjoy the holidays with us.  Keep you veterinarian’s phone number and the emergency 24 hour facility numbers handy in case of an emergency.  A quick call to either of them can give you life-saving advice or even help you avoid a trip to the ER.

We hope you have a safe and enjoyable holiday season.  Enjoy the festivities and parties that happen during this time of year.  Your pets will be excited and will definitely play a role in these celebrations.   Be sure to visit to see important animal health articles and to stay up to date on the latest news.