To much Thanksgiving turkey could give your pet a tummy ache - or worse

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Q: Why do people go on TV every year warning against giving our pets turkey over Thanksgiving, when turkey is found in dog and cat food? C'mon, it's crazy! -- T.J., Providence, RI

A: You're right that there's nothing inherently dangerous about cats or dogs eating turkey.

Looking oh so cute and needy, pets can easily convince family members and guests to give them pieces of turkey. Of course, offering food from the table encourages begging, and that can be annoying while everyone is trying to enjoy dinner. Also, even small pieces of turkey add up; if Grandma, Aunt Sally and Uncle Buddy and neighbors Millie and Jerry each give your dog or cat some turkey, it's simply too much generosity.

To a fairly small dog or cat, even a decent-sized slice of a turkey is like a quarter of a bird to any of us. And just as in people, too much of a good thing can cause an upset tummy. If the turkey contains fat or there's skin on the meat, some pets have little tolerance and the result can potentially be life-threatening pancreatitis. On top of that, bones can cause an obstruction that could require surgery.

If you want to offer your pet a slice of white meat (only a very small slice for a small dog or cat), no harm done. What veterinarians and other pet experts are saying is, "Why take a chance when your pet will be just as happy with a dog chewie or a few cat treats?"

Q: Can cats get laryngitis? Our 8-year-old cat has lost her voice. One of our favorite things about Ess was that she would talk back to us when we spoke to her, especially when we said her name. According to the vet, her lungs are clear and x-rays show nothing. The veterinarian prescribed a medication that has not helped. Can you help? -- D.K., New Richmond, WI

A: "Cats can actually get laryngitis, mysteriously losing their voice for a short period of time," says Lebanon, OR-based Dr. Vicki Thayer, president of the Winn Feline Foundation (a non-profit which funds cat health studies). "Usually, then the voice returns in days, or at the most, a week or so. Otherwise, there may be a medical reason your veterinarian has not discovered (such as an upper respiratory virus, even bordetella). Or maybe there's nothing to discover. I currently have a client where the same thing happened; the cat spontaneously lost her voice. There's no medical explanation, and the cat still isn't talking after weeks. No one knows why this happens in some cats."

Perhaps the problem is that this cat simply has no more to say. However, Thayer responds, "It's a cat, so I doubt that's the case."

Q: My veterinarian says he can do a dental (procedure) for our 6-year-old dog without anesthesia. He says all the dog needs is "a dental touch up." What do you think? I read your recent column on this topic and will abide by your advice. -- B.J., Hartford, CT

A: "The only way to diagnose disease below the gum line is a full mouth x-ray, which requires anesthesia," says Dr. Kate Knutson, Bloomington, MN-based president of the American Animal Hospital Association. "Since you simply can't find many serious problems if a dental is done without a dog being anesthetized, then why bother? My clients come back to me less often with serious dental problems because we do the dentals proactively right the first time. Not only does this save them money, but it also may prevent a pet from suffering."

Q: My granddaughter's Shih Tzu sometimes doesn't pee or poop in a 24-hour period. She took him to the vet to see if there was a blockage, but there was none. The dog also won't relieve himself in the rain. What's going on? -- M.M., Cyberspace

A: The dog could be constipated, but since he won't do either No. 1 or No 2, and probably does his business normally most of the time, this is suggestive of a behavior problem, according to Dr. Sheldon Rubin.

"Regularity in your dog's schedule will help to make your dog regular," says Rubin, of Chicago, Ill. Feed your dog at near the same times daily, and at least until you get this issue under control, cut the between-meal snacks. Also, Rubin suggests asking your veterinarian about adding pumpkin or fiber to the dog's diet to encourage regularity.

It's unusual for dogs (especially small dogs) to go 24 hours without urinating. Is it possible this dog is having accidents in the house, which your granddaughter either isn't divulging or knows nothing about? Or when he's let out in the yard, the dog is, indeed, piddling, but your granddaughter hasn't noticed?

Rubin suggests taking the dog for leash walks -- if possible where other dogs have been, which is stimulating. And just as you would with a puppy, instantly provide praise and a special treat when the dog succeeds at doing his business. Also, maintain a schedule in writing of exactly when the pup poops and/or pees.

When it comes to dodging the rain, dogs aren't stupid; many don't like to get wet. Have fun in the rain. When it's just drizzling or raining lightly (don't begin this process during a thunderstorm), have your granddaughter take her pup outside and encourage play. She could even give the dog some treats, or channel Gene Kelly and do some singin' in the rain. Of course, your granddaughter might get wet, too!

(Steve Dale welcomes questions/comments from readers. Although he can't answer all of them individually, he'll answer those of general interest in his column Send e-mail to PETWORLD(at)STEVE DALE.TV. Include your name, city and state. Steve's website is; he also hosts the nationally syndicated "Steve Dale's Pet World" and "The Pet Minute." He's also a contributing editor to USA Weekend.)

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