Thanksgiving is a time when families and friends gather around to eat delicious food and give thanks. But, underneath that heavily laden table, you will likely find a disgruntled furry family member who can’t believe they weren’t included in the turkey day head count. While your pet may prefer to be seated at the head of the table, you need to make good choices to keep your pet safe, especially at holiday celebrations, which provide plenty of opportunities for pets to find trouble. Our Colony Veterinary Hospital team’s pet safety do’s and don’ts will help you avoid a Thanksgiving emergency room visit. 

DO keep your pet’s paws off the food

While you may be tempted to include your pet in the Thanksgiving feast, many traditional foods contain ingredients toxic to pets, including:

  • Turkey — Turkey skin is high in fat, and is usually covered with butter, spices, marinades, and oils, and can cause pancreatitis in your pet. Cooked turkey bones are brittle and can splinter easily, and the sharp pieces can injure your pet’s mouth or esophagus or become a choking hazard.
  • Nuts — All nuts are dangerous for pets if eaten in high enough quantities, but macadamia nuts are especially problematic, causing vomiting, ataxia (i.e., impaired coordination), weakness, and hyperthermia.
  • Onions, garlic, and chives — Whether they’re raw, powdered, or cooked, these vegetables can damage your pet’s red blood cells and cause anemia. 
  • Alcohol — While many pets are drawn to alcohol’s sweet smell, small amounts can be life-threatening. Pets who ingest alcohol can develop dangerously low blood pressure, body temperature, and blood sugar.
  • Spices and herbs — Stuffing and other holiday foods often contain sage and other herbs, and essential oils and resins that can give pets an upset stomach.
  • Raw yeast dough — Raw yeast dough that your pet eats will continue to expand in their stomach, and can cause a gastric obstruction. The yeast can also metabolize and produce alcohol, which can be absorbed, causing alcohol toxicity.
  • Desserts — Many desserts contain pet-toxic ingredients, such as chocolate or the popular sugar substitute, xylitol. Xylitol ingestion can cause a dangerous blood sugar drop, and liver failure.

DON’T force your pet to socialize

Not all pets are social butterflies! Some pets become nervous around large groups of unfamiliar people, so consider how your home packed full of Thanksgiving guests will affect your pet. Ensure your pet has access to a safe space in your home that is quiet, away from strangers, with a cozy bed, a long-lasting treat, and calming music. Highly anxious pets may benefit from veterinarian-prescribed anti-anxiety medication or calming supplements. Pets who are comfortable socializing will still need a retreat if they become overstimulated. 

DO watch your pet when welcoming guests

A constantly opening front door can become an escape route for an unattended pet who slips out while you’re busy greeting guests and collecting coats. Keep your pet from bolting outside and potentially getting lost by blocking their front door access with a pet gate. Ensure your pet wears a collar and identification tags with your current contact information should they get lost, and consider microchipping, which is the best method of permanent identification, so long as you keep your contact information up to date in the microchip registry. If your pet isn’t microchipped, contact us to schedule an appointment for this quick, safe procedure. 

DON’T let the decor become a hazard to your pet

A Thanksgiving celebration isn’t the same without fall-themed decor, but some popular decorations can be tempting—and harmful—to pets.

  • Candles — This fall staple can be a fire hazard—a wagging tail or mischievous paw can get burned by the flame, or knock over a lit candle and start a fire. 
  • Scented sprays and fragrances — Your human guests may appreciate a festive fragrance, but scented sprays can irritate your pet’s respiratory system and potentially lead to an asthma attack.  
  • Floral arrangements —  Floral centerpieces are beautiful, but many popular fall flowers are toxic to pets, if ingested. These include:
    • Chrysanthemums — Chrysanthemums can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hypersalivation, and incoordination in pets.
    • Autumn crocus — This plant can cause severe vomiting, gastrointestinal bleeding, liver and kidney damage, and respiratory failure.
    • Lilies — Lilies can cause gastrointestinal upset in dogs, and can lead to kidney failure in cats.
    • Corn cobs, gourds, and pumpkins — Small pieces can be swallowed and cause a gastrointestinal obstruction and may require surgical removal.

We hope you enjoy a fun-filled Thanksgiving free from potential pet dangers, but should you have an emergency, such as your pet ingesting a toxic food, do not hesitate to contact Colony Veterinary Hospital or Animal Poison Control as quickly as possible.