Thanksgiving and pets go hand in hand… after all, aren’t you forever thankful you adopted your four-legged friend and welcomed all those cold-nosed kisses into your life? However, before the celebration begins, it’s a good idea to make sure your Turkey Day will be as pet-friendly as possible.
1. Food Safety
Thanksgiving is largely about food. Of course, not all people foods are safe for pets. Here are some Thanksgiving foods to be careful with:
Turkey – A few small, boneless, and well-cooked pieces of turkey should be fine. But never offer your pal raw or undercooked turkey because it could contain salmonella bacteria. Keep the leftover carcass (and all bones) away from your pet, too. Dogs and cats have a hard time processing fatty foods like turkey skin, and even small pieces of bone can lead to gastrointestinal injury.
Bread Dough – If your doggie or kitty ingests raw bread dough, the yeast will continue to convert the dough’s sugars into carbon dioxide and alcohol, a combination that could become life-threatening for your pal.
Pies and cakes – Keep puppy and kitty noses out of the mixing bowl while you’re baking because raw eggs can lead to food poisoning. Also, if you’re using the artificial sweetener xylitol (found in certain peanut butter brands) in any desserts, be aware that this can be fatal if consumed by pets.
Chocolates – A nice box of chocolates looks great on your table. However, chocolate can be harmful to both dogs and cats and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, high blood pressure, seizures, and other symptoms.
2. Thanksgiving Costume Reminders
If your dog or cat enjoyed dressing up for Halloween, you might consider an adorable pilgrim outfit or a funny turkey costume to add to the holiday’s festivities. Just remember that your pal’s costume should never be too tight or too loose, limit mobility, obstruct breathing, get in the way of potty time, or hinder their ability to talk to you. Take care to make sure the costume is free of any choking hazards, such as beads, feathers, or other loose, dangling pieces.
It’s also a good idea to let your four-legged friend try their costume on before the big day so they can get used to it. If your pet seems at all uncomfortable, skip the costume (no matter how cute it is!).
3. Decoration Dangers
Although pumpkins and decorative corn aren’t toxic, ingesting too much can give your li’l buddy a bad case of tummy upset. You’ll also want to be careful with candles that curious puppies and kitties could knock over, as well as any decorations that have small pieces that your pet could easily choke on.
For some families, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season. If you’re using the long weekend to put up your tree and lights, keep glass ornaments (especially the metal hooks), tinsel, pinecones, and light strands out of paw’s reach.
4. Floral Centerpieces
Many people enjoy brightening up their dinner table with a pretty floral arrangement. Just make sure you are familiar with which plants are poisonous to dogs and cats. Some popular fall plants often found in festive decorations that are toxic to both include:
- Autumn crocus
- Acorns from oak trees
If you suspect your dog or cat has consumed a poisonous plant or substance, act fast. Contact your veterinarian, an emergency veterinary clinic, or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (ASPCA APCC) right away.
5. Hosting Guests
Both dogs and cats can become shy, nervous, or overly excited when you have a full house, especially if they have never met your guests before. If your pal seems anxious, try putting them in a quiet room away from the action with a favorite toy and plenty of fresh water.
You should also take care to watch the door when guests are coming and going. Excitable pets, even those who are typically well behaved, may try to make a break for it. Now is a good time to make sure your dog or cat has their proper ID with updated contact information. You may even want to consider a microchip just in case.
6. Traveling With Pets
Whether or not you should travel with your pet is a big decision and one that depends on a lot of factors, such as your means of travel, where you’ll be staying, and how well your dog or cat copes with new environments.
If you’ll be crossing state or international borders, research what requirements are involved. You may need a health certificate from your veterinarian. If you’re going by car, remember to restrain your pal with a harness or carrier safely.
Consult your veterinarian first if you’re considering air travel. Wherever you go, take a copy of your pet’s medical records and make sure they have proper identification. Traveling is another great reason to think about microchipping!
7. Preparing for Emergencies
No matter how much you plan, holiday mishaps can still happen. It’s a good idea to ask your veterinarian about their holiday hours ahead of time and add the telephone numbers for an emergency veterinarian clinic and the ASPCA APCC to your contacts just in case. Keep a pet first-aid kit handy, and remember that in any emergency, the best thing you can do is to stay calm.