Thanksgiving is a great time to gather with friends and family and express gratitude for what we have—including our pets—but a veterinary emergency can leave you feeling ungrateful. Our Town & Country Animal Hospital team wants to help by explaining how you can keep your pet safe and remain thankful on the holiday.

Be thankful your pet remains home

Thanksgiving gatherings are typically hectic affairs, and your pet may decide to seek refuge from the hustle and bustle and sneak off. Ways to help prevent losing your pet on Thanksgiving include:

  • Microchip your pet Microchipping permanently identifies your pet, so they can be returned should they go missing. Once the chip is in place, ensure you keep your contact information updated in the microchip registry.
  • Ensure your pet wears a collar — In addition to being microchipped, your pet should wear a well-fitted collar and identification tags with your current contact information. 
  • Monitor your doors — Closely monitor your doors to prevent your pet from escaping. Alert your guests that your pet is not allowed outside, and post signs on your entryways to remind yourself and your guests to watch for your pet.

Be thankful your pet refrains from ingesting dangerous foods

Many traditional Thanksgiving foods are dangerous for pets. Notify your guests that your pet isn’t allowed table scraps, and keep your garbage in sealed containers to help prevent a problem. Troublesome foods include:

  • Fatty foods — Any high-fat food, including turkey skin, can trigger pancreatitis, a potentially life-threatening condition.
  • Turkey bones — Cooked turkey bones can easily splinter, damaging your pet’s mouth or gastrointestinal tract. 
  • Onions Allium vegetables, including onions, chives, shallots, leeks, and garlic, contain disulfides, which can damage a pet’s red blood cells and lead to anemia. 
  • Grapes — Grapes, raisins, and currants contain an unknown toxin that causes kidney failure in pets. 
  • Alcohol — Pets are extremely sensitive to alcohol, and ingestion can result in incoordination, weakness, decreased respiration, and collapse.
  • Yeast dough — Unbaked yeast dough can expand in your pet’s stomach, resulting in dangerous bloating, and the alcohol produced in the fermentation process can lead to alcohol poisoning.
  • Chocolate — Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, which cause central nervous stimulation in pets. All forms are dangerous, but dark chocolate is especially toxic for pets. 
  • Xylitol — Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that is sometimes used to make sugar-free treats. This ingredient can cause severe hypoglycemia in pets. 

Be thankful your pet refrains from swallowing dangerous medications

Your guests may keep medications in their bags or coat pockets, so ensure your guests’ belongings are stored in a secure area inaccessible to your pet. The most common culprits include:

  • Ibuprofen — This non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) can cause gastrointestinal ulceration and kidney failure in pets. Signs usually develop in 12 hours and include vomiting, inappetence, lethargy, and decreased mentation. Kidney failure can occur in 24 to 48 hours.
  • Acetaminophen — This common pain reliever can cause liver failure in pets. Signs develop in hours and include inappetence, lethargy, vomiting, and respiratory distress.
  • Antidepressants — Several medication types used to treat depression in humans can cause serious health complications for pets. Signs will depend on the medication.
  • Attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications — These stimulants cause signs including hyperactivity, hypertension, increased heart rate, hyperthermia, and seizures in pets. 

Be thankful your pet is not harmed by seasonal decorations

Decorating your home for Thanksgiving helps promote the holiday feeling, but certain adornments are dangerous for pets, including:

  • Candles — Lit candles can be a burn and fire hazard if your pet investigates and knocks over the flickering flame.
  • Novelty objects — Small novelty objects can be ingested, causing a gastrointestinal blockage.
  • Seasonal plants — Seasonal plants, such as amaryllis, autumn crocuses, chrysanthemums, and lilies, are toxic to pets.

Be thankful your pet remains stress free

Many pets experience stress and anxiety around strangers or crowds, but the following steps can reduce your pet’s stress level:

  • Create a quiet area — Ensure your pet has a quiet area to escape from the festivities. If they are anxiety prone, consider confining them in this area during the gathering, checking frequently to ensure they aren’t upset.
  • Ask your guests to respect your pet’s space — Ensure your guests, especially children, know they must respect your pet’s privacy and give them their space in their quiet area. 
  • Consider anxiety support — If your pet has anxiety issues, consult our veterinary team about the benefits of an anti-anxiety medication or supplement. 

Be thankful your pet remains safe while traveling

If you are traveling with your pet for the Thanksgiving holiday, take the following steps to keep them safe during your trip:

  • Restrain your pet — Restrain your pet when traveling in a vehicle. Small pets should remain in a carrier placed on the vehicle floor behind the front passenger seat, and larger pets should be strapped in with a well-fitted seat belt harness.
  • Never leave your pet unattended — Never leave your pet in an unattended vehicle.
  • Ensure your pet can fly with you — If you are flying, ensure your pet can travel with you in the plane’s cabin, since the cargo hold is dangerous for pets.

Remain grateful this Thanksgiving by following our pet safety advice. If you would like your pet microchipped before turkey day, contact our Town & Country Animal Hospital team and let us ensure they are properly identified.