Tips for Keeping Pets Safe During the Thanksgiving Break | News

Those lively eyes peeking out from under the Thanksgiving table can finally lead to a soul-searching trip hours or days later.

National statistics show that pets end up in the emergency room every 2.5 seconds on any given day.

With the addition of holiday food and excitement, emergency vet hospitals are preparing for the emergency rush on Thanksgiving and a day or two after that.
“The holidays are a really busy time in the emergency room,” said Natalie Clawson, director of practice at the Emergency Veterinary Referral Center in Norman.

Cases jumped 80 percent this past Thanksgiving and the next, compared with the previous week at the center.

The majority of these cases were dogs and cats suffering from digestive problems. Patients held leftovers or were given highly seasoned table food.

“We tend to pile on a lot of different flavors in these things. They’re much richer than what pets are used to, and so can cause gastrointestinal upset like vomiting and diarrhea,” Clawson said.

In extreme cases, fatty pork lumps may lead to pancreatitis, making the pet very sick a day or two after Thanksgiving.

It said turkey and pork bones caused the second largest category of emergencies last year. Surgery — at a cost to insurers of $1,600 to $10,000 — may be required to remove such foreign bodies.

“People always want to give treats. They want to share their food,” Clawson said. “So the big message is that what’s on your plate is likely to upset their stomach.”

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Dog fights also send a lot of pets to the emergency room every Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving guests bring their dogs to a setting full of hustle and bustle, people, and animals.

Dog fights can break out suddenly, when the resident dog gets a whiff of an intruder.

For people who want to take their dog to another dog’s home, Clawson recommends putting both dogs on leashes. Then, rather than taking the visitor to the host’s home or backyard, both leashed dogs should meet in a neutral area such as a street or park.

“Let them sniff each other, let them introduce themselves to each other as dogs usually do,” Clawson said. Then they can walk home together.

The emergency clinic doesn’t expect many cat fight patients during the holidays because most people don’t travel with their cat.

There’s another reason, too, Clawson said.

“Cats are very good at communicating before getting into a fight,” Clawson said. “It’s like they’re going to hiss. They’re giving other warning signals to that other cat, like, ‘I’m not okay with you.’ Where the dog isn’t usually great at that.”

It’s also common for pets to run out during all the holiday commotion and get hit by a car, Clawson said.

“So the pets get out of the house by mistake,” she said.

Whenever possible, it’s really best that people don’t take their pets on stressful holiday events, Clawson said.

The best way to keep pets out of the emergency room is to be attentive, calm, and offer dog or cat treats instead of human food bars.

“Thanksgiving is a special holiday that brings family and friends together, but it can also hold some big risks for pets,” said Dr. Lori Teller, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association. “By understanding these risks, and with a little bit of planning, you can help make this Thanksgiving a safe and enjoyable experience for all your friends and family—four-legged ones included.”

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