We don’t know about you, but we here at Animal Ortho Care are psyched about Thanksgiving.

The opportunity to catch up with family and friends is great and all, but lets be honest, the real reason we gather ‘round the table is the chance to gorge ourselves on turkey, gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, rolls and pie … all the pie. You know, basically, any and all meat and carbs.

And hey, we know it can be tempting to invite your pets to join in all the feasting– especially when their big brown eyes look at you so earnestly for just one teeny, tiny nibble of turkey. But before you make up a plate for your dog, keep in mind that serving them table scraps made for humans can cause health problems.

“This is the time of year that many veterinary hospitals report a significant increase in emergency calls particularly those relating to digestive tract disturbances resulting from exposure to foods pets simply should not have received.” says Dr. Clark K. Fobian, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Here’s what you need to know in order to ensure your fur buddy survives Thanksgiving without a tummy ache.

Foods to watch out for:

While it’s tempting to let your four-legged friends gobble down some roasted turkey, be careful.

Eating turkey, turkey skin or other fatty foods (we’re talking to you gravy) that aren’t easily digestible by pets can cause pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas, which is a life-threatening condition. Consuming turkey bones also poses a risk to dogs. The bones can splinter and get caught in the esophagus, stomach, or intestine potentially perforating or rupturing tissue.

Other foods that are poisonous to your furry friends include:

  • Onions
  • Leeks
  • Chives
  • Garlic
  • Grapes
  • Raisins
  • Chocolate
  • Xylitol, an artificial sweetener that might be used in baked goods

If you’re baking fresh bread, be aware that raw yeast dough can be dangerous to your dog, causing painful gas and bloating that could require hospitalization.

While we’re on the subject of raw food– make sure not to give your pet uncooked turkey or batter, it could put your pet at risk for salmonella poisoning.

Finally, make sure to dispose of turkey carcass, including any wrap or string used when cooking the meat, in a covered, tightly secured container to prevent your dog from treating himself to a late-night feast.

What to look out for:

If you think your pet might have been sneaking some table scraps, keep an eye on him.

Signs that your pet might need veterinary care include:

  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Depression
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Pain

If you’re worried that your pet might have ingested something poisonous, contact the SPCA’s Poison Control Hotline at 888-426-4435.

What to give them instead:

If you’re going to give your dog a little bit of turkey, make sure it’s boneless, skinless and thoroughly cooked. Add sweet potatoes or green beans to their dinners and maybe the tiniest dribble of gravy.

Better yet, instead of sneaking rolls and bits of turkey to your dog under the table, try out this idea from the Humane Society:

Fill up a Kong toy with unseasoned sweet potatoes, a little pumpkin and some watered down chicken broth. Put the Kong in your freezer overnight. Offer it to your dog to enjoy while you are overindulging on mashed potatoes and gravy and apple pie (ala mode, of course).

Mental health

 Holiday gatherings aren’t only stressful for you. Some dogs and cats aren’t particularly fond of guests dropping in or the extra noises associated with parties or large get togethers. If you have an especially nervous (or anti-social pet) consider putting them in a quiet room or in a crate with their favorite toys until your guests go home.

Find more advice for helping your pet survive Thanksgiving by visiting the American Veterinary Medical Association or the ASPCA.

Photo courtesy of H.L.I.T./Flickr