Thanksgiving is one of the nation’s most widely observed holidays, but the occasion can be dangerous for your pet. As you gather with friends and family to celebrate the year’s blessings and indulge in a large feast, take steps to safeguard your pet. Our MountainView Veterinary Hospital team wants to help by providing Thanksgiving safety tips to keep your pet out of harm’s way.

Thanksgiving safety tips for hosting pet owners

If you are hosting the Thanksgiving feast, you likely will be busy making preparations before your guests arrive. Tips to safeguard your pet during the celebration include:

  • Ensuring your pet has a refuge — Crowds can be upsetting for pets, especially when they invade your home. Ensure your pet has a quiet area where they can seek refuge if they get overwhelmed, and if your pet is timid or prone to stress, consider confining them to this area during your gathering. 
  • Alerting your guests — Post signs on your doors to remind your guests that your pet is not allowed outside. That can help prevent them from going missing during the holiday celebration.
  • Securing your guests’ belongings — Pets are curious, and they want to explore every pocket and crevice that looks interesting. Secure your guests’ belongings so your pet can’t accidentally find a dangerous toxin such as:
    • Xylitol — This sugar substitute is commonly found in sugar-free gum and candy, and while the ingredient is beneficial to humans, it can cause severe hypoglycemia in pets.
    • Ibuprofen — Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory commonly used to manage pain. In pets, the medication can cause gastric ulceration and kidney failure.
    • Antidepressants — Antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors, can be toxic to pets, causing issues such as heart problems, central nervous system problems, and fluctuations in blood pressure.
    • Acetaminophen — Acetaminophen is a common pain reliever that causes liver failure in pets. Cats are especially sensitive to this medication.
  • Choosing pet safe decorations — When decorating your home, choose pet safe decorations. Avoid using candles, which can be a fire hazard; small objects, which can be swallowed; and foliage that can be toxic to pets. 
  • Discussing anxiety relief — If your pet is prone to anxiety and stress, consult your veterinary team to determine if an anti-anxiety medication or supplement can help them.

Thanksgiving safety tips for cooking pet owners

Everyone looks forward to the Thanksgiving feast, but several traditional dishes can cause problems for your pet. Tips to keep your pet safe include:

  • Not letting your pet partake — Ensure your pet doesn’t eat any Thanksgiving food. Dishes that are most problematic include:
    • Turkey — Turkey skin is high in fat, which can trigger a potentially life-threatening condition called pancreatitis. In addition, cooked turkey bones are brittle, and they can splinter, injuring your pet’s mouth or gastrointestinal tract.
    • Grapes — Grapes, raisins, and currants are common additions to fall dishes, but these fruits contain a toxin that causes kidney failure in pets.
    • Onions — Vegetables such as onions, garlic, chives, shallots, and leeks contain a toxin that causes damage to a pet’s red blood cells, resulting in anemia.
    • Chocolate — Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, contains a toxin that causes central nervous system stimulation in pets.
    • Macadamia nuts — Nuts are high in fat and can trigger pancreatitis, but macadamia nuts are especially dangerous because they contain a toxin that causes muscle weakness, depression, vomiting, and hyperthermia.
  • Informing your guests — Ask your guests to refrain from offering food to your pet.
  • Sealing garbage containers — Ensure your garbage containers are sealed so your pet can’t dumpster dive to retrieve a forbidden morsel.
  • Tidying up after your guests — Be alert for plates your guests leave unattended so you can discard them before your pet takes advantage of the opportunity. 
  • Providing pet safe treats — Provide pet safe treats so your pet doesn’t feel left out of the feast. 

Thanksgiving safety tips for traveling pet owners

If you are traveling to enjoy the Thanksgiving festivities, tips to safeguard your pet include:

  • Properly identifying your pet — Ensure your pet has identification to improve your chances of reuniting if they go missing. Microchipping your pet is the best way to provide proper identification, and they also should wear a collar and identification tags that have your current contact information. 
  • Restraining your pet — When traveling in a vehicle, never leave your pet unrestrained. Cats and small dogs should remain in a carrier placed on the vehicle floor behind the passenger seat. Larger dogs should be restrained using a safety harness or be confined to the cargo area using a pet barrier.
  • Never leaving your pet alone — Never leave your pet in an unattended vehicle. 
  • Contacting your airline — If traveling by air, contact your airline to ensure your pet can travel in the cabin with you. A plane’s cargo hold is a dangerous place for pets. 
  • Making introductions — If you have a pet sitter to watch your pet while you are away, introduce them to your pet before you leave so your pet won’t be afraid when a stranger enters their home. 

Hopefully, following these tips will help your pet remain unscathed during the Thanksgiving festivities. If you would like your pet microchipped before Thanksgiving, contact our MountainView Veterinary Hospital team so we can ensure your pet is ready for the holiday.