As Thanksgiving approaches, you may be making out your guest list for the big day, ensuring everyone you want to invite to your feast is included. Typically, that list also includes your four-legged friend, especially since they’re unlikely to let you forget to invite them to the most delicious holiday of the year. However, the Thanksgiving holiday is full of dangers for your pet, and not only at the table. Our Town & Country Animal Hospital team provides a list of table etiquette rules and good manners to help your furry pal enjoy Thanksgiving safely.

Rule 1: Too many cooks in the kitchen can be a disaster—so pets must stay out

Although having an extra set of hands or two while cooking a holiday feast is a big help, two sets of paws are two too many. Keep your pet out of the kitchen from when you begin cooking, till you’ve completed the final cleanup. Tasty hazards on every surface in your kitchen may tempt your pet to inadvertently consume a toxin or dangerous item. Keep a close eye out for the following kitchen perils for pets:

  • Unbaked yeast dough — The dough you’ve set out to rise for yeast rolls can quickly double in size in your pet’s stomach. As the rising dough releases gases, the carbon dioxide can cause your pet’s stomach to bloat and potentially flip on itself, causing a life-threatening emergency known as a gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV). In addition, the fermenting yeast dough releases alcohol that can get into your pet’s bloodstream, causing alcohol toxicity.
  • Alcohol — As you’re mixing your famous holiday punch, your inquisitive pet may knock over those half-empty bottles of alcohol. Spilled alcohol puddles are dangerous for your furry pal, who will typically lap up the beverage and, unfortunately, experience the same side effects we do. However, pets who ingest alcohol are more apt to develop low blood pressure, low body temperature, and low blood sugar, all of which can be dangerous if not treated.
  • Aluminum foil and twine — Fat-coated foil and twine used to roast the turkey can be irresistible to your pet. Don’t leave these items out on the kitchen counter if your four-legged friend is a known counter-surfer, or they may end up requiring emergency surgery.
  • An overflowing trash can — Food scraps and spoiled leftovers are still tantalizing to your pet, and a trash can without a lid looks like a treasure trove. Ensure your trash can has a locking, pet-proof lid, to keep your furry pal safe.

Rule 2: Pets should not beg at the table

Begging is considered rude, especially when your pet is harassing your guests, and drooling all over their laps. If your pet is not always on their best behavior around company, consider confining them to a bedroom with their own pet-safe Thanksgiving feast. Small bites of boneless, skinless turkey breast that’s free from seasonings, plain mashed or sweet potatoes, and a few fresh or canned green beans can make a delicious, safe dinner for your pet, while keeping your guests drool-free. 

Rule 3: Pets should not take food from other people’s plates

Snatching food off someone else’s plate is inappropriate, especially during Thanksgiving. Ensure your pet stays out of the dining room during dinner, to prevent any feast-related fiascos regarding unattended plates. Dangerous foods your pet may get their paws on include:

  • Turkey — The main attraction can entice your pet to steal a biteor a whole turkey leg. Unfortunately, much of the turkey is dangerous for pets, because the skin is high in fat and often seasoned, which can lead to pancreatitis, gastrointestinal upset, or toxicity. The dark meat is also high in fat compared with white meat. The bones are particularly brittle and prone to splintering, and can pierce your pet’s mouth or form a blockage in their intestinal tract.
  • Onions, garlic, and chives — These zesty veggies spice up any dish, but they can also cause red blood cell damage and anemia in pets. If you’re giving your pet a lick of mashed potatoes, ensure they’re chive-free. 
  • Raisins and currants — Raisins and currants can make their way into stuffing, bread, or desserts, and can lead to kidney failure in pets.
  • Rich foods — High-fat foods rich in butter and cream can irritate the pancreas, and potentially cause life-threatening inflammation. 

Rule 4: Accept compliments about the decor, but don’t let pets don’t eat it

The Thanksgiving centerpiece is often a beautiful cornucopia of fall harvest fruits. However, no matter how gorgeous, your pet needs to refrain from a close inspection. Corn cobs can cause gastrointestinal obstruction, and bunches of grapes are toxic to pets. If you’ve designed doorway decor of seasonal squash and mums, prevent your pet from sniffing out spoiling vegetables. And, mums are considered toxic to cats and dogs, so ensure your furry pal cannot come close to your festive fall flora.

By ensuring you and your pet practice good manners at your Thanksgiving table and beyond, you can both enjoy a safe, happy holiday with family and friends. But, we know pets are prone to mischief, so if your furry pal gets into trouble, give our Town & Country Animal Hospital team a call for help.