Stay at Home and Out of the Emergency Room this Holiday Season with these Quick Tips

Thanksgiving is a time to spend with family and friends, but it can also be a busy time for veterinary hospitals thanks to food-related emergencies. In our effort to not only treat, but also prevent health problems, the doctors at Boulder Road Veterinary Specialists have some pointers to keep you and your pet at home and out of the emergency room this holiday season. 


This is probably one of the most common Thanksgiving emergencies. We all love the flavors of a big Thanksgiving meal, and nothing feels better than sharing it with a wagging tail under the table. However, table scraps, particularly high-fat treats, can trigger a very severe reaction in the pancreas of dogs and cats. Signs of pancreatitis include vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Diagnosis requires a good physical exam, blood testing, and often an abdominal ultrasound. While very mild pancreatitis can be managed with medications on an outpatient basis, even moderate pancreatitis typically requires hospitalization, and severe pancreatitis is life-threatening. So this year, before you let Fido clean the dishes, consider serving up a regular meal with an extra special hug to show how much you love them instead.


While we might be able to loosen our belts to get more comfortable after overeating, most dogs don’t wear pants. That means that if they eat too much, there is no simple relief. Food bloat can damage the stomach and intestines and cause great discomfort. In rare cases food bloat can be life-threatening. Signs of food bloat include discomfort, a distended stomach and non-productive retching. Most importantly food bloat can look a lot like Gastric Dilation and Volvulus (GDV), which is always life threatening. If your pet is showing these signs they should be evaluated immediately. X-rays of your pets abdomen can differentiate food bloat from GDV. From there the veterinarian will be able to discuss a good treatment plan to get your pet comfortable and home again. A small, low fat treat snuck under the table might not be the end of the world, but Mr. Buttons is smart – a little from grandpa, some from uncle Eddie, a bite from aunt Petunia, half of the food from the kids table, and all the yummy leftovers in the garbage can really add up!

Turkey Bones:

Who doesn’t love gnawing on a nice big turkey leg for thanksgiving? But what to do when your done? Do you start chewing on the bone, crunching it into razor sharp shards? Or do you try to swallow the bone whole? NO – You use your delightfully greasy fingers to throw that bone away. Unfortunately, pets don’t have our level of self-control, and it’s hard for them to stop once they have gotten down to the bone.  Every year many pets require surgery, and some pets die from swallowing bones over the holidays. We know it feels great to see that tail wag as you pass the turkey leg to the only one at the table not arguing about politics…but by doing so you could end up in the hospital, and while Thanksgiving discussions can get uncomfortable, they are much more enjoyable than a midnight emergency surgery. 

We hope these simple tips will help keep you and your family together and a little less stressed this holiday season. If you have any questions, or if your furry friend does manage to sneak some tasty treats out of the trash, you can call us or come in any time. We’re here for you 24/7, even on holidays (although we hope you don’t need us!)

From everyone here at Boulder Road Veterinary Specialists, we wish you a wonderfully happy and safe Thanksgiving!

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