Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on all the good things in our lives, and your pet is likely at the top of your gratitude list. Pets offer fierce loyalty, unconditional love, and endless companionship, but as you focus on the feast, your pet could get into trouble and need emergency veterinary care. When your pet stares up at you with those adorable, pleading eyes, you may be tempted to toss them some Thanksgiving dinner table scraps. However, many turkey day delights are dangerous to pets and can result in a holiday trip to the veterinary emergency hospital. Ensure you and your pet enjoy a happy holiday by following our Liberty Veterinary Hospital team’s four Thanksgiving safety tips.  

#1: Do not share table scraps with your pet

The Thanksgiving feast is full of mouth-watering dishes and culinary indulgences that your pet is more than happy to sample. However, many traditional recipes contain harmful or toxic ingredients that can cause your pet to experience serious illness. To avoid jeopardizing your pet’s health, keep the following foods away from them:

  • Turkey —  Most of the turkey, from the skin to the bones, can harm your pet. The spices used to season turkeys can upset your pet’s stomach, while the high-fat skin and dark meat can inflame their pancreas, potentially causing serious pancreatitis. Turkey bones can damage the intestines and may lead to a gastrointestinal (GI) blockage that requires surgical removal. 
  • Onions — Garlic, onions, leeks, and chives flavor many dishes, but if your pet eats these vegetables, they can experience red blood cell damage and anemia.
  • Raisins and grapes — Commonly used in the stuffing and other sides, grapes and raisins are toxic to pets, causing kidney failure.
  • Desserts — While you are likely aware that chocolate is toxic to pets, many other desserts are also hazardous, especially those that contain xylitol, a sweetener often used in many sugar-free foods and baked goods. If your pet ingests xylitol, they can experience a severe blood glucose drop and acute liver failure. 
  • Alcohol — Pets experience the same side effects as people do when they ingest alcohol, but they are much more sensitive to alcohol’s effects. If your pet gets into an unattended alcoholic beverage, they can develop low blood pressure, low body temperature, and low blood sugar, all of which can be dangerous if left untreated.
  • Yeast dough — If your pet ingests unbaked yeast dough, the food will swell in their stomach, causing bloating and a GI obstruction. In addition, the fermenting yeast produces alcohol, which can cause alcohol toxicity.
  • Nuts All nuts are high in fat and can cause pancreatitis or gastroenteritis. However, macadamia nuts are especially dangerous and can cause depression, muscle weakness, and vomiting.

#2: Secure your pet and the front door

The sudden influx of visitors, noise, and activity can stress your pet who may look for any escape opportunity. While you’re distracted with greeting guests, your pet can easily slip through an open door and become lost. Avoid this possibility by putting up a baby gate that blocks your pet’s front door access. To increase the chances of a reunion should your furry pal sneak out, ensure their identification, including their microchip and collar tags, has your current contact information. 

#3: Give your pet a place to retreat

When hosting a gathering, ensure your guests do not overwhelm or stress your pet. Provide an area where your furry pal can escape if they do not want to mingle and ensure your guests don’t need to access the space. In your pet’s quiet retreat, include their favorite things, such as a covered crate, soft bedding, toys, and a long-lasting treat (e.g., a food-stuffed frozen Kong). Turn on some soft music or white noise and dim the lights to ensure they feel safe and comfortable. 

#4: Plan in advance for pet travel 

Many families travel at Thanksgiving. Whether or not your pet will be traveling with you, plan for their needs well ahead of time by following these tips

  • Traveling —  If your destination requires updated vaccinations or a health certificate, schedule your pet’s pretravel veterinary examination. Ensure your pet is comfortable in their crate, carrier, or seat belt before you head out. 
  • Boarding — The holidays are busy times, and pet boarding facilities often fill up quickly. To secure your pet’s reservation at our boarding facility, ensure you reserve their spot well in advance.

By following these four safety tips, you help ensure that your pet will remain happy, healthy, and safe during the Thanksgiving festivities. If your pet needs a health certificate or a microchip to prepare for the holiday, schedule their appointment with our Liberty Veterinary Hospital team.