If you are sitting down to read this on the eve of Thanksgiving, consider yourself amongst the fortunate, because what I am going to tell you can mean the difference between having a festive holiday weekend, or being up a very messy creek without a paddle.

The season is upon us — the season of vomiting and diarrhea and all kinds of gastrointestinal nastiness. It starts around Halloween and peaks sometime in early December … but the days after Thanksgiving and Christmas are the worst of all.

Inevitably, for many pets, the day after (Friday morning, in this case) will be teeming with onslaughts of the fetid residuals from the previous day's dietary indiscretions. 

So if you have any desire to make things easier on yourself, your veterinarian, your pocketbook — and lest we forget, your pet — stay away from the following:

1. Anything your pet is not accustomed to consuming

That means anything new. Even the most innocuous-seeming food (like white meat turkey) can work horrors on an unprepared digestive tract.

2. Anything even remotely garbage-like …

… because that’s what’s most likely to wreak havoc on your pet's intestinal bacteria. If it's a choice between the garbage bag or the pet bowl, stick to the bag. Otherwise you'll be setting up conditions for a horrible intestinal imbalance that can very likely lead to an inevitable weeklong bout of bloody diarrhea

#3 Desserts

Any dessert can be bad for your pet's belly, but especially those with heavy fats and/or chocolate in any form. It might as well be garbage.

4. Onion-y things

Onions can be especially problematic. Not only because we see lots of vomiting and diarrhea associated with onion ingestion, but also because this class of plants (of the allium genus, which includes onion, garlic, leek and chive) is actually toxic to cats' and dogs' red blood cells. 

5. Bony things

Anything hard, sharp and/or sizable enough to get stuck is a VERY bad idea — even ham bones.

6. Relatives and friends who feed your pet surreptitiously

As to this final point, I strongly suggest you post a visually prominent sign referencing your wishes: "Do not feed the animals ... unless you would like to pay up front for the $500 to $1,500 in damage you're likely to cause when you feed my pet without my permission."

Be pleasant, but be clear and direct on this point. And if they should go against your wishes? You will know who is not going to be on next year's guest list.

Good luck, and happy holidays!

Dr. Patty Khuly