Between the morning parade and the afternoon football games, Thanksgiving’s cornucopia presents many potential hazards for your pet. Our team at Wales Animal Clinic would like to encourage you to follow a few guidelines that will keep your pet safe during the holiday.

Please safeguard your pet during the gathering

After being unable to gather in large groups last year, you are likely looking forward to a big Thanksgiving celebration, but your pet may not be as excited about the extensive guest list. Pets have different personalities, and some will handle the situation better than others. 

  • Shy pets — If your pet becomes stressed easily and tends to hide when people visit, keep them sequestered in a designated room in your home. Ensure they have all the necessities, and leave music or the television playing to suppress the revelers’ noise. A food puzzle toy can also help keep them distracted from the change in routine.
  • Sociable pets — If your pet is a social butterfly, introduce them to your guests as they arrive, so they aren’t overwhelmed by everyone at once. Also, ensure they have a quiet area where they can retreat if they get tired.
  • All pets — All pets should be properly identified in case they escape during the mayhem. Microchipping your pet improves their chances of finding their way home if they are lost. All pets should also wear a collar and identification tags with your current contact information.
  • Exotic pets — Many people are fascinated by exotic pets, and your guests may handle your pet too much, or inappropriately. Please keep your exotic pet in a safe, quiet room during the party.

Avoid feeding your pet the turkey and fixin’s

Any sudden change in your pet’s diet can result in gastrointestinal upset, but Thanksgiving’s main course is especially problematic for your pet.

  • Turkey skin — The skin is high in fat, which can trigger pancreatitis. Typically, the pancreas produces digestive enzymes that are activated once they reach the small intestine, to help break down proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. When your pet ingests a high-fat food, such as turkey skin, the digestive enzymes can be prematurely activated, causing them to break down the pancreas and surrounding tissue. This process is painful for your pet, and can cause widespread inflammatory repercussions throughout their body, which can lead to life-threatening consequences.
  • Turkey bones — The cooked bones especially are extremely brittle, and may splinter in your pet’s mouth, injuring their mouth, esophagus, and other parts of their digestive tract.
  • Turkey brine — Your pet may be tempted by this tasty solution, but the high-salt content can cause salt toxicity. Signs of salt toxicity include vomiting and diarrhea, and in extreme cases, pets may seize or suffer kidney damage.

Additionally, the high-fat content found in most Thanksgiving sides can trigger pancreatitis, and some ingredients are toxic to pets.

  • Onions — Vegetables in the Allium family, including onions, chives, scallions, leeks, and garlic, contain thiosulphates that cause a pet’s red blood cells to break down easily, resulting in anemia. Signs include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and pale mucous membranes.
  • Grapes — Grapes and raisins contain an unknown toxin that causes kidney failure in pets.
  • Nuts — All nuts are high in fat and can cause pets gastrointestinal upset or pancreatitis, but macadamia nuts are especially dangerous, causing depression, muscle weakness, and vomiting.
  • Alcohol — Pets are extremely sensitive to alcohol ingestion, and can quickly develop alcohol toxicity. Signs include incoordination, weakness, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Yeast dough — Unbaked yeast dough will start to swell if your pet ingests some, causing bloating and  gastrointestinal obstruction. In addition, as the yeast ferments, alcohol is produced, and can cause alcohol toxicity.

Your pet may have a sweet tooth, but don’t give in to their big, sad eyes. Dessert ingredients can be dangerous for your pet.

  • Chocolate — Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, which stimulate a pet’s central nervous system, resulting in agitation, vomiting and diarrhea. Dark chocolate and baker’s chocolate are the most dangerous.
  • Xylitol — Commonly used in sugar-free desserts, this artificial sweetener causes a pet to release insulin, resulting in a drop in their blood sugar. Signs include weakness, incoordination, and seizures.
  • Nutmeg — This spice, commonly used to make pumpkin pie, contains myristicin, which causes disorientation, abdominal pain, and seizures in pets.

Choose pet friendly Thanksgiving decorations

Decorating your home before the gathering helps create a festive atmosphere, but ensure you choose pet friendly items. Decorations to avoid include:

  • Small objects — Pets are curious, and they will investigate any new object in their home. If they ingest a small decoration, the object could cause a gastrointestinal obstruction, requiring surgery to remove.
  • Candles — Lit candles are a nice touch, but a passing tail can catch fire, and a wayward paw can knock the candle over, causing a fire.
  • Toxic plants — Several plants used for holiday decorations, including autumn crocuses, lilies, and chrysanthemums, are poisonous to pets.

By following these guidelines, you can enjoy a safe Thanksgiving and avoid an emergency veterinary visit. If you would like your pet microchipped before the big day, contact our Wales Animal Clinic team, to schedule an appointment. As a reminder, Wales Animal Clinic will be closed November 25th and 26th for the Thanksgiving holiday. We will reopen for normal business hours on November 29th.