Thanksgiving is a time to reflect and be thankful, spend time with loved ones, and enjoy good food! Naturally, we want to include our four-legged family members in the festivities, too. However, there are a few things to consider when including your pets in the holiday fun.
Avoid feeding table scraps
Holiday food is delicious, but it’s often too rich for our pets. Rich or fatty foods can cause diarrhea, vomiting, or pancreatitis – and an emergency trip to the vet is never in anyone's holiday plans. Desserts and pies can contain artificial sweeteners or chocolate that are toxic to pets, and yeast dough or rolls can cause bloating and stomach upset.
It is also important to be aware of Thanksgiving dishes that include grapes, raisins, and currents; all of which are toxic to pets and require medical attention if ingested. Turkey might seem like the ultimate holiday treat for your pet, but it is important to remember that bones and turkey skin should be avoided as both can be harmful if ingested.
If you want your pet to feel included when the family sits down to eat, there are some pet-safe food options you can feed them (in moderation, of course). Baked or steamed vegetables like carrots, green beans, pumpkin, and sweet potato are a great low-calorie option – just make sure they aren’t cooked in butter! Sliced apples (make sure to remove the core and seeds) are a great dessert option, just save any sugar or cinnamon toppings for human family members.
We recommend telling guests to skip giving your pet treats altogether, but educating your guests on what holiday treats can and cannot be given to your pet may help your relatives who just can’t resist those sad puppy-dog eyes.
Because abrupt changes in your pet’s diet can cause stomach upset, we recommend feeding these pet-friendly snacks in moderation and as additives to their regular diet. If you know or suspect that your pet has ingested food that they shouldn’t have, contact your vet or local emergency clinic right away.
Keep the décor out of reach
To some pets, holiday decorations aren’t just for looking – they make awesome toys or snacks, too! Objects like acorns and pinecones (real or fake!) might look great in your centerpiece but can cause an intestinal blockage if ingested by your pet. Make sure that any festive plants or centerpieces are out of your pet’s reach, as there are many plants that are toxic to pets when ingested.
Some of the most common holiday plants to watch out for are baby’s breath, poinsettias, lilies, amaryllis, and holly. Check out the ASPCA’s full list of toxic plants if you are unsure about a plant you plan on having in the home:
Because a lot of Christmas trees tend to go up the day after Thanksgiving, make sure to take necessary precautions if your pet likes to chew on the tree, ornaments, or Christmas light wires.
When having people over, there are several considerations for pet owners. First, it is important to consider your pet’s stress level. While some pets see company as an opportunity for more attention, other pets may be stressed by all the commotion and feel anxious about strange faces in their territory. Watch your pet’s body language for signs that they might not be having a good time and make sure they have a private and secluded place where they can go to feel safe, like a crate or spare room.
Signs that your pet may be feeling stressed or anxious include drooling, excessive panting, tail-tucking, lip licking, trying to flee, and aggression. If your pet suffers from severe anxiety, contact your veterinarian to discuss calming medications that can be administered as needed during stressful events.
It is also important to make sure your pets are secure whenever new people are coming and going. Anxious pets may try to bolt out the door if given the chance, so make sure guests know how to secure the pets before leaving the house.
Keep your guest’s belongings locked away in their rooms to prevent snooping pets from getting into them.
In the event that your pet does escape the home, it is crucial that they are properly identified with a tag and a registered microchip. Microchips are a great way of linking your pet to you in the event they go missing, and are quick and easy to insert. Drop by at your earliest convenience to get your pet microchipped if they aren’t already!*
*Rabies vaccine must be up to date.