Thanksgiving safety tips for pets

The Rancho Coastal Humane Society is issuing its annual warning to pet owners to make sure their dogs, cats and other animals don't eat potentially life-threatening foods during the holidays -- or any time.

With its lavish meals, candies and other treats, the holiday season presents a potentially high health risk for pets if they have easy access to foods they’re not supposed to eat.

“We need to continue to educate people about the importance of this,” said John Van Zante, spokesman for the nonprofit Rancho Coastal Humane Society.

With Thanksgiving coming up, the organization has been reaching out to the community through its website, social media channels and the local media to warn pet owners, particularly ones with dogs and cats, to take the necessary precautions.

In a news release the humane society sent this year, Van Zante warns that “German chocolate cake is not for German Shepherds and Russian blue cats don’t need Russian dressing. In a phone interview, he also warned that pets will eat plastics and other types of food wrappers.

“They don’t have thumbs, so they’re not going to unwrap,” he said.

Some of the Rancho Coastal Humane Society’s other tips include keeping pets out of the kitchen, reminding family and guests not to feed your pets, make sure your pets can’t get ahold of anything with bones in it, keep pets away from fats such as gravy, no sweets, and no alcohol, cider or sparkling water.

Unlike humans, pets can’t gauge their limits.

“They will just eat and eat and eat and don’t think about the consequences,” said Van Zante, who puts those safety measures in place during the holidays with his girlfriend to protect their dogs, Jake and Shortley.

The consequences for pets can range from an upset stomach to organ complications and death. Van Zante said one extreme case he’s heard of involved a dog who ate five pounds of grapes that had been left on the kitchen table and then required dialysis, before succumbing to kidney failure.

“We are so blessed to have animals in our lives every day,” Van Zante said in the humane society’s statement. “Make sure your decorations are safe for pets. Take out the trash. Provide your pet with a place to hide away if it gets overwhelmed. That’s one day of caution for a lifetime of joy.”

The American Veterinary Medical Association advises pet owners to call the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline at 888-426-4435 if their pets have been poisoned or eaten something it shouldn’t have.

For more information about the Rancho Coastal Humane Society, call 760-753-6413 or visit