You’ve bought your turkey, planned your sides, and sent out your guest invitations, but have you made preparations to keep your pet safe this Thanksgiving? Many aspects of the holiday can be dangerous for pets. Our Wales Animal Clinic team wants to offer some pet safety tips to help you avoid a veterinary visit during the Thanksgiving holiday.

#1: Ensure your pet doesn’t partake of the Thanksgiving feast

The Thanksgiving meal is an important part of the holiday, and overindulging in its delectable dishes is not uncommon for people. You may be uncomfortable, but not in any real danger. However, the same is not true for pets because some foods are dangerous for them, including:

  • Turkey — Turkey skin is high in fat, and pets have a hard time digesting fatty foods. Indulging in high-fat foods can lead to a potentially life-threatening condition called pancreatitis. In addition, turkey bones become brittle when they are cooked, and they can be a choking hazard or splinter and damage your pet’s mouth or gastrointestinal tract. Turkey brine is also dangerous because the solution is high in salt and can cause salt toxicity if your pet ingests too much. Signs include vomiting, diarrhea, and neurologic problems. 
  • Allium vegetables — Vegetables such as onions, leeks, shallots, chives, and garlic contain a toxic compound called N-propyl disulfide that causes oxidative damage to a pet’s red blood cells, leading to anemia. Signs include lethargy, weakness, pale gums, and fainting. 
  • Grapes and raisins — Grapes and raisins contain an unknown toxin that causes kidney failure in pets. Signs include lethargy, decreased appetite, increased thirst and urination, and vomiting.
  • Bread dough — When ingested, unbaked bread dough can expand in a pet’s stomach, causing bloat and potentially progressing to gastric-dilation volvulus (GDV). In addition, the yeast sugars in unbaked dough produce carbon dioxide gas and alcohol, and the alcohol is rapidly absorbed into the pet’s bloodstream, resulting in alcohol poisoning. Signs include vomiting, weakness, lack of coordination, and collapse.
  • Chocolate — Offerings from the dessert table also can be dangerous. Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, which are toxic to pets and cause signs including restlessness, vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures.
  • Xylitol — Commonly used in sugar-free desserts, xylitol causes a dose dependent insulin release in pets that can result in severe hypoglycemia. Signs include weakness, lack of coordination, vomiting, and seizures.

#2: Prepare your pet for the Thanksgiving gathering

Any change in routine can be upsetting for your pet, and you should take precautions if you are hosting Thanksgiving festivities. Tips include:

  • Creating a guest-free pet area — Designate a room in your home where your pet can escape if they become overwhelmed. If your pet is shy around people, consider confining them to this area during the gathering. Put all of their essentials in the area, and check on them frequently to ensure they aren’t upset or stressed.
  • Watching the exits — Monitor the exits when entering or leaving your home to ensure your pet doesn’t escape, and alert your guests that your pet is not allowed outside.
  • Microchipping your pet — Pets can be wily, and you should ensure your pet is properly identified in case they go missing during the excitement. Microchipping your pet is the best way to identify them, and they also should wear a collar and identification tags that have your current contact information.
  • Considering medication — If your pet is prone to anxiety, consult our veterinary team to determine if an anti-anxiety medication or supplement is appropriate for them during the holiday.

#3: Keep your pet in mind when choosing Thanksgiving decorations

Beautiful floral arrangements and plants are a popular choice when decorating for Thanksgiving, but some seasonal plants are toxic to pets, including:

  • Autumn crocuses — Autumn crocuses, also known as meadow saffron, contain colchicine, which is extremely toxic to pets. Health complications include bloody vomiting, diarrhea, multi-organ damage, shock, and bone marrow suppression.
  • Chrysanthemums — Chrysanthemums are a popular fall flower that come in various colors. These pretty plants contain lactones and pyrethrins, which cause signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, hypersalivation, and lack of coordination.
  • Acorns — Oak trees shed acorns during the fall season, which are commonly used in fall decorations. Acorns contain tannins in high concentrations, and this substance can be irritating to your pet’s gastrointestinal system, causing vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort.

#4: Safeguard your pet when traveling for Thanksgiving

If you are visiting friends or family during the Thanksgiving holiday, take precautions to safeguard your pet. Tips include:

  • Safely restraining your pet — Pets should always be restrained when in a moving vehicle. Small pets should be secured in a carrier and placed on the vehicle floor in the back seat. Larger pets should be restrained using a harness or placed in a crate in the vehicle’s cargo area.
  • Never leaving your pet in the car — Your pet should never be left in an unattended vehicle.
  • Researching emergency veterinary hospitals — You should figure out where the emergency veterinary hospitals are along your route and at your final destination in case your pet needs veterinary care.
  • Taking your pet in the plane’s cabin — If traveling by air, ensure your pet can fly with you in the cabin. The cargo hold is dangerous for pets.

Thanksgiving is an exciting time of year, and following these tips should help you avoid spending the day in a veterinary emergency hospital. If you would like your pet microchipped before the Thanksgiving feast, contact our Wales Animal Clinic team so we can ensure they are prepared for the big day.