Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude and appreciation for your life’s blessings. If you are fortunate enough that those blessings include a beloved pet, ensure they also include your pet’s health and safety. The Wales Animal Clinic team wants to help, and we offer our Turkey Day Top 10 pet safety tips.

#1: Plan for your pet

If you love the holidays, you’ve likely been fine-tuning your Thanksgiving menu and spreadsheet for months. But, if your plan doesn’t include your pet, you could be inviting disaster to the holiday table.

Consider the day from your pet’s perspective and take any necessary actions, such as requesting medication refills at Wales Animal Clinic or through our online pharmacy, bringing your dog’s crate out of storage, or confirming that your scheduled travel stops are pet-friendly. 

#2: Try to maintain your pet’s normal routine

Pets are creatures of habit, and they feel safer and more comfortable when you are gone if their routines and patterns stay the same. Whenever possible, stick to your pet’s typical feeding, exercise, and sleep schedule to prevent unwanted health or behavior challenges.

#3: Keep these troublesome and toxic foods out of your pet’s reach

Many Thanksgiving menu staples are a recipe for pet health disasters, including toxicosis (i.e., poisoning), pancreatitis, gastroenteritis, choking, and intestinal blockages. Foods and food-related items to avoid include:

  • Turkey skin, gravy, pan drippings, and fat
  • Turkey or ham bones
  • Onions, leeks, and shallots
  • Grapes, raisins, and currants
  • Macadamias and other nuts
  • Alcohol and caffeine
  • Yeast dough
  • Chocolate 
  • Corn cobs
  • Foil and plastic wrappers
  • Kitchen twine
  • Xylitol (i.e., birch sugar, an ingredient in many sugar-free baked goods, spreads, and snacks)

#4: Never let your pet chew on or ingest cooked bones

A turkey or ham bone for your pet to chew may seem the perfect holiday gift, but these leftovers frequently lead to pain and injury. Hard bones can break or chip your pet’s teeth, while cooked bones can splinter and lacerate your pet’s gums, tongue, and digestive tract. Also, ingested bone fragments can create blockages that necessitate emergency life-saving surgery.

If you want to treat your pet this Thanksgiving, we recommend a food-stuffed Kong filled with pet-safe ingredients (e.g., sweet potato, turkey, green beans) or a digestible dental chew.

#5: Know who to call in a pet emergency

Knowing how to respond to a pet emergency can help you stay calm and act quickly. The Wales Animal Clinic team recommends posting important phone numbers on your refrigerator and saving them in your phone so you are always prepared for the unexpected. These numbers should include:

#6: Give your pet a safe place to escape the festive fun

Not every pet enjoys holiday celebrations, especially pets who are fearful of strangers or sensitive to loud noises. We recommend providing every pet, including those who are confident and social, with a designated safe space, such as a crate or favorite bed in a quiet, low-traffic area of your home, where they can escape the excitement and activity.

#7: Keep your pet’s paws away from harvest decor 

Your decor can set a beautiful fall scene, but can also set up your pet for trouble. Place these items on inaccessible shelves or restrict your pet’s access to decorations that include:

  • Candles
  • Small gourds and pumpkins
  • String lights
  • Glass ornaments
  • Toxic flowers (e.g., lilies, chrysanthemums)
  • Liquid potpourri and essential oils

#8: Invite the dog on your after dinner walk

Who doesn’t love a post-meal stroll around the neighborhood? Leash up your pup and take them along for an extra helping of exercise and fun. Leash walking is a safe, low impact activity that is safe for dogs of all ages and provides not only physical benefits but also allows your dog to burn off excess energy and decompress from all the holiday stress.

#9: Take out the trash early and often to protect your pet

This chore may not be high on your holiday to-do list but is critical for protecting your pet. During the holidays, your trash can is filled with irresistible pet temptations, including meat, bones, gravy, and other decadent—but potentially deadly—delights.

Protect your pet from toxicity, choking, and intestinal obstructions by ensuring trash cans are behind secure barriers (e.g., baby gate, pantry door), frequently removing full trash to an external location (e.g., garage, outside dumpster), and asking guests to not leave plates or cups unattended. 

#10: Keep guests’ belongings out of your pet’s reach

Guest belongings, such as purses, luggage, and coat pockets, are a treasure trove of exotic smells for pets. Unfortunately, they also contain many potentially harmful items, such as:

  • Prescription and over-the-counter medications
  • Supplements
  • Sugar-free gum, mints, and candy that may contain xylitol 

Help protect your pet and your guests by designating storage shelves, hooks, or racks for guests’ personal items, asking guests to keep their belongings off the floor, and closing doors to discourage nosy pets. 

Ensure your Thanksgiving festivities leave you and your four-legged companion in good spirits—not in the veterinary emergency room—by making pet safety part of your holiday plan. For additional safety tips or pre-holiday pet care needs, such as medication or food refills, contact the Wales Animal Clinic team.