Holiday Hazards 1: Watch Out for Table Scrap Bandits!


November sets the stage for holiday decorations, celebrations, meals, and traveling that can last through New Year’s. We thought this would be a perfect time to start a Holiday Hazards blog series. Over the next several weeks we are going to tackle important holiday considerations that will help keep your pets safe during the festivities.

Picture this: Thanksgiving Day. The classic meal filled with things like turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, buttered biscuits, sweet potato casserole, and pecan pie. Everyone goes to bed that night feeling overly stuffed, satiated, and happy. But while everyone sleeps, your food motivated four-legged companion “Kit Kat” just can’t resist the divine smells emanating from the full trashcan. The next morning, with trash spilled everywhere, it quickly becomes apparent that “Kit Kat” found the turkey, gravy, and butter biscuit scraps from yesterday’s meal.

After cleaning up the mess, you then realize “Kit Kat” does not want to eat his breakfast. Later that day, “Kit Kat” develops some vomiting and then diarrhea. By the next morning “Kit Kat” is clearly very ill and you bring him to Lawndale.

Is it a foreign body from the turkey bones? Is it just an upset stomach from eating the table scraps? Is it pancreatitis from the fatty gravy and buttered biscuits? Is it something else?

After examining “Kit Kat”, Dr. Burnett decides that “Kit Kat” is sick enough that he needs to be hospitalized and stabilized while the diagnostic work-up is being performed. Ultimately “Kit Kat” is diagnosed with pancreatitis. It takes a few days of hospitalization and supportive care but thankfully he pulls through and recovers.

Did “Kit Kat” learn his lesson about getting into the trash? Probably not, but the financial burden of his work-up and treatment probably helped you to problem solve to prevent this from happening again!

Take away lesson: Keep your pets from getting table scraps.

  • This is important all year, but during the holidays additional variables (visiting relatives, children offering table scraps, overflowing trashcans, etc.) may make it easier for pets to access human food.
  • Table scraps can cause things like gastrointestinal upset, foreign body obstruction (e.g. bones), or pancreatitis in pets
  • Avoiding table scraps can help your pets stay healthy (and help keep your spending down during the busy holiday season)

Be sure to check back next week for our next series installment!

Author: Dr. C. Noureddine, DVM, MS