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Avoid the Urge to Stuff Your Pet: Animal Behavior College Shares 5 Safety Tips for a Pet-Healthy Thanksgiving

Media & PR Contact
  Angela Peña, Director of Media and Public Relations
  888-338-7778 (direct)
Thursday, April 30, 2015 : 4:06:07 PM
Santa Clarita, Calif., November 17, 2014— With elaborate dishes, specially prepared meats, vibrant libations and rich desserts, Thanksgiving is a time when most people overindulge. For pet owners, it is tempting to share tidbits of food with Fido and Frisky. However, many of these delicious foods can make them sick. Animal Behavior College cautions pet owners to avoid feeding pets table scraps and offers healthy food alternatives that will keep them safe and happy on this special day.

“Since we celebrate Thanksgiving with food, it’s often tempting to share a ‘bite’ or two with our pets during and after the meal without realizing that these morsels can disturb their digestive systems and make them sick,” said Daniella Retamal, manager of Animal Behavior College’s Veterinary Assistant Program (VAP). “Although it’s best not to deviate from your pet’s normal diet, there are foods [if prepared properly] that pet owners can give pets that are not harmful so pets can be part of the celebration, too.”

Before festivities begin, ABC recommends setting ground rules for guests. Ask guests not to feed table food or snacks to your pet(s). Move cheese trays, hors d’ oeuvres, candy dishes and other goodies on the coffee table to an area that is out of a pet’s reach. Alcohol is toxic to dogs and cats. Dogs can develop inflammation of a digestive gland and other painful and serious conditions, and cats can suffer severe liver and brain damage or even death. Instruct guests not to leave unattended alcoholic beverages anywhere within a pet’s reach.

ABC also recommends pet owners avoid the following:

Turkey Skin & Bones. Cooked turkey skin with no seasoning is hard to digest and turkey skin with butter and spices is even worse. If you decide to feed turkey to your pet, choose white meat, as it is not as rich as dark meat and is easier to digest. Remove the skin and cut the meat into small pieces before serving. Also, avoid feeding dogs cooked bones, as certain bones can lodge in a dog’s intestines.

Gravy/Buttery Side Dishes. Rich gravies and side dishes can wreak havoc on a pet’s digestive system. Dogs can develop inflammation of a digestive gland, pancreatitis, diarrhea and other painful and serious conditions. Instead, add a little turkey broth to their regular meal as a tasty alternative.

Onions, Garlic and Sage. Onions, garlic and sage are staples in Thanksgiving stuffing and other festive dishes. However, they can make pets sick. Onions and garlic are poisonous to dogs and cats and can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting. If ingested, sage causes gastrointestinal upset if consumed in large quantities. Instead, give green beans or a plain hardboiled egg.

No Pets in the Kitchen. With food preparations and other busy kitchen activities, a spilled hot dish or dropped pan or bowl can injure or burn a curious pet. Have someone watch your pet or put her in a quiet room or in a crate or carrier away from the fray. Keep a closed lid on the trash bin to prevent pets from feasting on disposed food that could make them sick.

Holiday Decorations & Plants. Before Thanksgiving, some people put up Christmas trees, decorate their homes and display holiday plants such as poinsettias, holly and mistletoe. Although beautiful and festive, these plants are poisonous and toxic to dogs if ingested. Keep a watchful eye on to ensure their tail-wagging and curious tendencies do not result in fallen trees and ruined decorations.
If a dog or cat is ill from eating a toxic plant or food, contact a veterinarian immediately, or call the Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680 or visit at
Animal Behavior College offers certifications and continuing education programs. To learn how to become a veterinary assistant, obtain dog-training certification, enroll in the Dog Obedience Program (DOP), Veterinary Assistant Program (VAP) or the Grooming Instruction Program (GIP), visit our website at or call 1-800-795-3294.