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15 December 1999 Issue

Food For Thought

Christmas is a time for sharing, a time for gathering of friends and family and a time to be thankful for the blessings provided to us throughout the year.

But sharing your holiday leftovers with your companion animals should be done with care and in moderation. Table scraps, especially turkey bones, can be deadly to dogs and cats.

Turkey bones, like other bird bones, are hollow and will break easily and splinter into very sharp pieces. When a dog or cat swallows the bones they can become lodged in the throat or intestinal tract and cause blockage or injury.

Symptoms may not occur for a day or two, but include loss of appetite, depression, vomiting or diarrhea. Sometimes the splintered bone will pass by itself but other times it may need to be surgically removed.

A second problem that occurs in pets that are fed leftovers is Salmonella food poisoning. Salmonella is an organism that lives in the bird's intestinal tract. Cooking usually destroys the organism but occasionally the center of the turkey may not be fully cooked. If the meat sits out at room temperature too long, the salmonella organisms can multiply and cause contamination.

Information obtained from the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)

[Editor's Note: Turkey and other rich foods commonly cause pancreatitis, which is very painful for pets. Save yourself a vet bill and stick to raw veggie treats.]

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