Just a little turkey ...please, please, please?

Nov 28, 2013

Bella Miller, who has her humans well trained, will stand sentry at Thanksgiving dinner to make sure no spilled tidbit goes unclaimed.
Credit Rina Miller / Michigan Radio

As  Americans gather to celebrate the holidays, many will be joined by family members of the furry persuasion.

Most dogs like to position themselves near the dinner table, ready to Hoover up any morsels that fall to the floor, eyes beseeching  diners as they lift  each forkful of feast. 

Cats may be more assertive and attempt to tiptoe among your fine glassware and serving platters.

But as we humans are well aware, just because something is delicious doesn't mean it's good for us.

That goes for pets, too.

While a few bites of turkey and plain vegetables likely won't cause any problems, rich foods can cause a stomach ache and the resulting unpleasant side effects, says veterinarian Jennifer Aschenbrener of Irwin Avenue Animal Hospital in Albion.

It's the truly tasty stuff that leads to more serious problems.

"When we get into the turkey skin or bones, that's what we really worry about," says Aschenbrener. "That delicious, crispy skin has a lot of fat in it, which can lead to pancreatitis."

Canine pancreatitis can be serious; acute cases can lead to renal failure.

"Cooked turkey bones can be very dangerous," Aschenbrener says. "They can shatter and cause problems in animals' digestive systems."

Other foods that can be harmful to pets include onions and garlic in large quantities, which can cause anemia. Chocolate can be extremely toxic, especially in smaller breeds.

"And certain nuts that might be in pies or cookies aren't good for dogs. Macadamia nuts are really awful for dogs," Aschenbrener says, adding that people should avoid giving dogs sweets in general.

"It's not a good thing. It's best to be thankful being our company, and being our pet, rather than having to spoil them with everything from the table."