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Veterinarians: Protect your pooch this Thanksgiving

Bob Ellis/staff photographer

Riley, a 4-month-old miniature schnauzer, gets checked by Tiffany Schiffer, a licensed veterinarian technician, Friday at Cortland Veterinary Hospital, 4056 West Road. Veterinarians advise people to use extra vigilance with their holiday food because some foods can cause serious health issues for dogs.

CORTLANDVILLE — All across America next week, families will gather around dining room tables to give thanks and, of course, to eat all sorts of meals that are sure to leave them full and satisfied.

While sharing some of the family’s most delicious culinary creations is central to what most think of when it comes to that Thanksgiving feast, experts say one family member should not participate in the annual tradition: the pet dog.

Veterinarians are reminding area residents to be extra vigilant preparing, eating and cleaning up the Thanksgiving dinner this year, as some of the ingredients in the foods folks are looking forward to eating next week can cause some serious heath issues for dogs.

Jolene Brockway, a veterinarian technician at the Cortland Veterinary Hospital at 4056 West Road, said on the holiday Thursday, her animal clinic will receive between five and 10 calls from people concerned their dogs have eaten something they should not have.

“Usually … a dog’s gotten into the garbage or something they’re not supposed to,” she said.
Brockway said while most people are aware dogs should not eat chocolate, there are a variety of other foods that can be just as harmful if not worse for dogs.

“Onions and garlic are toxic,” she said. “They affect the blood system. Then you get the bones from the turkey that can cause intestinal blockage or peritonitis if it tears into the intestine, that sort of thing.”

Another food that could be potentially harmful to dogs one might not necessarily expect is ham; specifically, the more fatty pieces.

“Extra fatty food to dogs can cause pancreatitis that can be deadly,” Brockway said. “(If) they eat too much of the fat … especially on the ham, that can cause pancreatitis.”

Dr. Nikki Clifford, a veterinarian at the Crossroads Veterinary Clinic at 3512 Route 281, said Friday the best thing for people to do is make sure their garbage is secured so dogs cannot get into the scraps and eat something that can be potentially harmful to them.

Clifford added dog owners should also be aware of stessors that can affect the dog’s mental health, saying it is always good to have somewhere in the house for the dog to go should they be overwhelmed by the guests this holiday season.

“If it’s a dog that’s not used to being around that many people, that can definitely be really stressful to them,” she said.

Helpful tips

Many people consider their dogs to be part of the family, and it can be hard to resist sharing a scrap or two of food with them or making a place for them at the dinner table for Thanksgiving.

While there are few food items that can make your dog sick, it is important that pet owners remain vigilant to make sure the family dog is safe. Here’s a list of things dog
owners can do to ensure their pets have a safe and happy Thanksgiving:

  • Give them treats of their own: Try giving your dog a safe and tasty distraction to focus on during the meal like a toy stuffed with peanut butter.
  • Keep garbage away from dogs: No one wants to intentionally feed their dogs something that will harm them, but sometimes ingredients like raw dough, onions, raisins and chocolate can be be mixed in with scraps and dogs can get into the garbage.
  • All bones are not equal: Bones and dogs are practically synonymous, but veterinarians say giving your dog cooked bones from the turkey or ham is a bad idea as they can splinter and cause a number of problems, from choking hazards to blockages and tears in the digestive tract.
  • Dogs get stressed, too: Thanksgiving can be a stressful time for everyone, including pets. Make sure your dog is content and happy and there is a quiet place to send the dog if needed. It’s also fine to tell guests to leave the dog alone, too.
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