Grocery store shelves filled with all things pumpkin and stuffing let us know that the biggest meal of the year is almost here. Family gatherings and marathon cooking sessions would not be complete without including your four-legged companion in the festivities. However, don’t let your holiday plans become sidelined by nosy whiskers and curious paws. While including your pet in every Thanksgiving activity is tempting, use caution when serving traditional holiday foods or planning activities around them. Many popular Turkey Day foods and decor can be toxic to pets and result in an unplanned visit to the veterinary emergency room. Our Palm City Animal Medical Center team wants to ensure you and your family have a safe and festive pets-giving, so follow these five Thanksgiving safety tips.             

#1: Avoid sharing your plate with your pet

The tempting kitchen smells are difficult for most people to resist, and it’s not uncommon for drooling pets to stare with longing eyes as you place the day’s bounty on your plate. However, many popular Thanksgiving dishes and desserts are dangerous for them. Sharing your plate with your pet can cause your four-legged companion to be at risk for gastrointestinal (GI) problems, including pancreatitis, an inflammatory condition that can be life-threatening. Additionally, many popular holiday ingredients are toxic to pets and can lead to liver and kidney problems, or blockages, which may require surgery. Always check the ASPCA toxic food list before offering your pet a human food treat, and never feed your pet the following: 

  • Onions, garlic, and chives — Small amounts (raw or cooked) can cause life-threatening anemia. Clinical signs include panting and bloody urine.
  • Spices and herbs — Holiday foods, like stuffing and turkey brine, often contain sage, herbs, essential oils, and resins, which can be toxic, especially to cats. Toxicity signs may include GI upset, lethargy, or depression. 
  • Raisins or grapes — Just one raisin or grape can be toxic for some dogs and cause kidney problems. Common signs may include GI upset, lethargy, and excess urination.
  • Raw dough/rolls — Pets who ingest unbaked dough are at risk for painful gas and intestinal bloating.
  • Sugar-free treats — Many sugar-free foods, like Jell-O or hard candies, contain xylitol. Small amounts can be toxic to dogs, leading to liver failure, seizures, or death in some cases.
  • Chocolate — All chocolate contains varying amounts of the stimulants caffeine and theobromine, which can be deadly to dogs. Toxicity signs may include vomiting, diarrhea, and hyperactivity.

#2: Decorate with caution and keep candles out of paw’s reach

Cornucopia centerpieces and fall-colored plants are the perfect complements to a Thanksgiving feast. Use caution when selecting a decorative flower or plant because many are pet-toxic. Always check the ASPCA toxic plant list before bringing any plants or flowers indoors or around your pet. Additionally, never leave pets unsupervised around lit candles to prevent burned paws or house fires. The smells of Thanksgiving extend beyond the marathon meal. Scented candles, potpourri, and votives are popular additions to holiday decor. However, many contain essential oils that can be toxic to pets, especially cats, puppies, or dogs with liver disease. Essential oils can be absorbed by ingestion, inhalation, or through the skin. Toxicity signs are variable and may include coughing, difficulty breathing, panting, and seizures.

#3: Designate a pet-safe room during celebrations

Kitchen chaos and a revolving door of family and friends can be stressful for pets. Providing your pet with a safe environment during festivities will decrease their stress and prevent them from going on an unplanned adventure by sneaking outside. Ensure your pet’s microchip is properly functioning and the registration is current, in case your pet puts Houdini to shame with their disappearing skills. Additionally, if your pet suffers from anxiety, bring them in for a veterinary examination to see if they are a candidate for anti-anxiety medication or calming supplements. Designate a “pets only” room and include the following to promote a calming space:

  • Soft music to dampen any loud conversation or sounds that may be unfamiliar to your pet
  • A special toy or treat
  • A pheromone spray, like Adaptil or Feliway
  • Their favorite bed or blanket

#4: Prevent your pet from dumpster diving

Pets who put a Hoover vacuum to shame are not the only ones at risk of ingesting a pet-toxic holiday food. Dumpster-diving, garbage-loving pets are also at risk for GI problems and dangerous blockages from discarded bones or post-meal leftovers. Additionally, wrappers with raw meat remnants can cause salmonella or pancreatitis. Ensure that all garbage cans have a pet-proof lid, and frequently remove all garbage and food scraps from the home to prevent a Thanksgiving pet emergency. 

#5: Plan ahead for pet emergencies

Pet accidents are stressful and can happen any time. Preparing for a pet mishap will ensure a quick response and increase the chances of a pawsitive outcome for your four-legged companion. Many families travel with their pets during the holidays, so ensure you have the contact information and address of the veterinary emergency hospital closest to your destination. If your pet is staying behind with a pet sitter, provide the sitter with the following:

  • Contact number and address for Palm City Animal Medical Center
  • Contact and location for the closest veterinary emergency hospital
  • Your pet’s insurance information
  • Contact and payment information for the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center
  • List of your pet’s medication and medical history

Our Palm City Animal Medical Center wishes you and your family a happy and pet-safe Thanksgiving. Should your pet get into some Thanksgiving mischief, call our office—we are here to help.

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