Thanksgiving is a time for traveling to visit family and friends and time to enjoy bountiful meals. However, both traveling and the abundance of food can prove stressful or dangerous to your pets. Be sure to keep your companions safe and free from holiday hazards.

If you are traveling with your pet by car, be sure to prepare ahead of time by taking short trips to get your dog acclimated to the motion. Confine in a crate or use a harness attached to the seat belt to keep you and your dog safe. Be sure to pack a copy of your pet’s health records, rabies vaccination certificate, a recent photo and the microchip number (if chipped). Add an identification tag to your pet’s collar with a phone number where you can be reached in the event your dog gets separated from you.

If traveling by plane, check with your airline about requirements for health certificates. Small pets (usually under 15-20 pounds) may be carried onboard while larger animals will ride in the luggage area. Be sure you have an appropriate crate or carry-on bag. If you are concerned about your pet’s anxiety during travel, ask us about medications which may help.

One of the biggest health problems we see is the ingestion of inappropriate materials associated with Thanksgiving dinners.

Too much fat. Turkey carcass, ham, butter, grease, drippings, cakes, pies—all of these items can cause GI upset, vomiting, diarrhea. The high fat items can also lead to pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)—which can be mild to life threatening. Severe cases can lead to death. It’s a very painful condition which often requires hospitalization (IV fluids, IV pain meds, IV nutrition).

Sharp or foreign objects. Animal carcass, tooth picks, turkey pins and plastic trusses, twist ties— all of these items can cause problems if your dog or cat decides to counter-surf or get into the garbage. These types of objects can cause obstruction, intestinal perforation, sepsis, peritonitis requiring hospitalization, surgery, intensive care, possibly even death.

Onions and garlic. Cooked or raw onions, garlic, and shallots can cause severe anemia requiring transfusion. Even small amounts can be toxic to large animals.

Grapes and Raisins can cause kidney failure, may require hospitalization, and IV fluids.

Chocolate. As we wrote in a past October for our post about Halloween dangers for pets, chocolate can cause big problems for dogs.

Moldy food. As those leftovers lose their appeal after a few days, don’t be tempted to give old, moldy, or rotting food to your pets. Mold can cause tremors, seizures, and possibly death. It causes pets to become feverish and must be treated to keep body temperature from rising too high which will cause organ failure. Dogs often will raid trash cans at this time of the year and ingest food that was supposed to be trash.

NSAIDS, Anti-diarrheals(loperamide), stomach coating agents (Pepto). The golden rule is not to give animals people medicine. Animal doses are much different than human doses. Animals also have breed specific sensitivities to medications leading to lower toxic doses. While a little Pepto or Tums might help us humans after the big feast, it’s not a good thing for pets.

If your pet gets into anything like this over the holiday, feel free to call the Animal Hospital at 734-662-4474, the sooner, the better. We are staffed 24-hours a day and available to discuss any concerns or answer any questions for you as well as provide immediate treatment.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Ann Arbor Animal Hospital is a locally-owned animal hospital operating for over 90 years in Ann Arbor, MI.