Humane Society of
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This page was last modified on Sunday November 18, 2012

Turkey Bones and Holiday Dinners can be Big Trouble for Pets!

During Thanksgiving we leave our diets behind and eat without guilt indulging in an irresistible feast. If we humans find a Thanksgiving meal irresistible and over stuff ourselves, imagine how it must be for a pet that generally dines on commercially prepared pet food. Our pets do not have the power of reason to realize and say to themselves, "If I eat this I am going to get really sick." They find our Thanksgiving feast most irresistible too.

On the day following Thanksgiving veterinarians will tell you that the most common calls are from concerned from pet owners inquiring about diarrhea with blood in it, vomiting, or a pet's lack of appetite. These calls are all due to a pet getting turkey bones out of the garbage, a pet stealing turkey bones off the counter, or a well meaning pet lover giving a pet a turkey bone.

Turkey bones whether they have meat on them or not are harmful to pets. A pet should never be given a turkey bone. Turkey bones splinter into very sharp points that can scrap or even worse cut a pet's digestive system and cause life-threatening damage. A sharp bone can perforate (tear a hole) the intestines which causes the leaking of fecal matter into the abdomen leading to a serious life threatening infection. Moreover, a bone stuck in the intestinal tract can cause a blockage that does not allow food to pass. Common symptoms of an intestinal blockage or an intestinal perforation are vomiting (perhaps with blood), diarrhea (perhaps containing blood), decreased appetite, lethargy (sleepiness), a belly that is tender to the touch, bloating (enlarged tummy), and eventually shock. Depending upon the severity of the symptoms, the treatment required can be as simple as veterinary observation with the administration of intravenous fluids, to the more complex surgical removal of the bone, or the surgical repair of a perforation.

Turkey bones and pets are not a good combination for happy and peaceful Thanksgiving. Keep your pets safe by discarding all turkey bones directly into a garbage can that has a locking lid. Tell your well-meaning guests that you do not feed your pets from table-least of all turkey bones. If your pet does ingest a turkey bone, call your veterinarian as soon as possible for advice.

Remember, if your pet does get a hold of a turkey bone it is due to human carelessness. Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!