Thanksgiving with Pets—A FUR-vival Guide

We challenge you to name a holiday better suited to pets than Thanksgiving. With all those irresistibly appetizing aromas, food-covered tables and countertops, and uncharacteristically generous owners and friends—hello, extra treats!—our dogs and cats must think they’ve reached Nirvana.

Unfortunately, from the human perspective, Thanksgiving with pets is often less like a Hallmark movie and more like a prank show. Becauselet’s be honestyour pet behaving perfectly when surrounded by all that temptation is about as likely as you refusing that second slice of pie. And, unfortunately, when your pet cannot resist the temptations, they are at risk for many painful situations and illness.

Keep your holidays merry and your pets safe with our five-step Thanksgiving FUR-vival guide.

#1: Some foods bite back—these foods are hazardous to pets

We know that resisting those big pleading eyes and that gently wagging tail is almost impossible, but when treating your pet on Thanksgiving, you must be as vigilant and as picky as Gordon Ramsay.

Many traditional Turkey day delights are dangerous or toxic to pets—in some cases, as little as one bite could result in a holiday trip to the veterinary emergency hospital. Hazardous foods include:

  • Meat trimmings These include skin, fat, gristle, and pan drippings.
  • Bones — Raw or cooked bones can cause choking, lacerations, broken teeth, life-threatening intestinal obstruction, and constipation. 
  • Onions, garlic, chives — These ingredients damage red blood cells.
  • Raisins, currants, or grapes — These foods, which are often found in stuffing and desserts, can lead to acute kidney failure.
  • Macadamia nuts — These nuts cause nerve and muscle abnormalities and pancreatitis in dogs.
  • Alcohol — Alcohol poisoning can cause low blood pressure, temperature, and blood sugar in pets.  
  • Yeast dough — Dough can ferment in your pet’s stomach and form a life-threatening blockage, and cause alcohol poisoning as the dough ferments.  
  • Chocolate — Caffeine and theobromine compounds in chocolate affect the cardiac and nervous systems. Dark and bitter chocolates (e.g., cocoa powder, baking chocolate) have the highest toxicity levels. 
  • Xylitol — This sugar substitute is often found in sugar-free foods, including jams, jellies, pudding, candy, gum, and baked goods.
  • Foods high in fat, sugar, or salt — Rich, indulgent foods can cause pancreatitis—an extremely painful and life-threatening condition that requires hospitalized treatment.

Fortunately, not everything on the Thanksgiving menu is off-limits for your pet. You can safely treat them to skinless white meat turkey, unseasoned green beans, plain sweet potatoes, apple slices, carrots, and pureed pumpkin (i.e., not pie filling). But unlike us, pets can’t loosen their belts—so moderation is key!

#2: Whisk(er)ed away—holiday travel pet-iquette

If you’ll be headed over the river and through the woods—or simply across town—ensure your pet is ready for the journey. 

If your destination requires updated vaccinations or a health certificate, schedule a pre-travel examination at Island Animal Hospital, during which we can also microchip your pet or scan their existing microchip to ensure it’s working properly. 

Acclimate your pet to their crate, carrier, or seat belt prior to your departure to ensure they stay calm and relaxed while traveling. We strongly advise pet owners to confine their pets in the car to prevent accidents, distracted driving, pet or passenger injury, and accidental escape.

If your pet experiences motion sickness, travel anxiety, or apprehension in new environments, contact Island Animal Hospital. Our veterinarian may prescribe medication or a supplement to help ensure a smooth, comfortable trip.  

#3: Show some paw-spitality—ensure visitors know how to interact with your pet

Your pet is cute. You know it, we know it, and your Thanksgiving visitors know it. But, despite their good intentions, affectionate guests may overwhelm, frighten, or antagonize your pet.

Establish a few simple ground rules to ensure each two-legged guest understands your pet’s language and looks out for their safety. Our best tips include:

  • No hugging or picking up the pet
  • Fully supervising pet-child interactions
  • Leaving the pet alone when eating, sleeping, or playing
  • Resisting punishing misbehavior and alerting the owner
  • Keeping doors and gates closed
  • Feeding only approved pet treats (i.e., no table scraps)

#4: Hashtag antisocial—give your pet a cozy getaway

At every holiday gathering you host, you likely desperately need a brief escape—whether that means hiding in a quiet closet or locking yourself in the bathroom. You’ll do anything for five minutes of peace. 

Chances are, your pet feels the same way—especially if they’re shy, nervous, or anxious in unfamiliar situations. Help your pet escape the holiday hustle and bustle by creating a cozy getaway in a quiet room or low traffic area that includes their favorite things, such as a covered crate, soft bedding, their favorite toys, a long lasting treat (e.g., a food-stuffed frozen Kong or wet food on a Licki-Mat), a water dish, and a litter box for cats. Turn on some soft music or white noise and dim the lights for extra privacy. Inform your guests that this area is for your pet only—otherwise, they may want to share!

Including your pet in your Thanksgiving plans may make you feel thankful to simply survive, but some thoughtful planning and close supervision will leave you grateful for the memories. 

However, should something involving your pet go awry, contact Island Animal Hospital during our normal business hours. For after-hours and holiday care, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center for toxin ingestion, or contact the nearest emergency veterinary facility if your pet has an obstruction or other life-threatening emergency.

By |2022-11-13T16:51:30+00:00November 13th, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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