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  1. advice

6 Thanksgiving Pet Safety Tips To Follow

Posted by Dr. Roth on November 17, 2022

Wellness Care
Stress & Anxiety
What to do if?
Thanksgiving Pet Safety Tips

Thanksgiving brings many families together to share a delicious meal around the dinner table and enjoy one another's company. For pets, the day can be full of excitement, as well as a lot of stress, anxiety, and potential dangers. It's up to the pet parents hosting the celebration to keep their cats and dogs safe. With some Thanksgiving pet safety tips in mind, pet parents can do just that. 

Thanksgiving Safety Tips Pet Parents Need To Know

The following pet safety tips for Thanksgiving should help pet parents and their animals avoid issues and enjoy the holiday to its fullest:

1. Don’t Leave Toxic Foods and Fatty Foods Unattended

Thanksgiving Day is full of meal prep, cooking, and guests bringing dishes to share. There's also a lot of socializing, in and out of the kitchen.

While it's easy to get distracted, pet parents should make sure they don't leave any potentially harmful foods within their pet's reach. These include:

  • Stuffing (which may contain onions, garlic, sage, and other seasonings)

  • Raw bread dough (yeast)

  • Grapes/raisins

  • Nuts

  • Fattier food items like dark meat chicken or turkey and poultry with the skin on (the skin may also have seasonings)

  • Leftover bones

  • Gravy (and dishes from gravy)

  • Green bean casserole (may contain onions or other harmful seasonings)

  • Mashed potatoes (salt, milk, and butter)

  • Desserts like apple or pumpkin pies (which have a lot of sugar) and anything featuring chocolate

  • Foods with an artificial sweetener (xylitol, in particular, is toxic for dogs)

As tempting as it can be to share, pet parents shouldn't feed their pets table scraps. They should also make sure their guests don't either. If pet parents want to share something with their pets this Thanksgiving, animals can enjoy some of the following safely:

  • Raw carrots

  • Cooked, unseasoned sweet potatoes

  • Plain, unsweetened pumpkin 

  • Plain green beans

  • Blueberries

  • Apple slices

2. Know Which Festive Plants Are Toxic and Store Them Away

Many guests bring floral arrangements to gift their hosts. While they make great décor, some types of festive plants are toxic to cats and dogs. Some plants to avoid include:

  • Lilies 

  • Thanksgiving cactus

  • Amaryllis 

  • Chrysanthemums

Pet parents should also be cautious of decorating with pumpkins and other gourds. While pumpkin isn't toxic, the hard outer skin can cause blockages if a cat or dog eats it. If a pet shows signs of vomiting, excessive drooling, or weakness, or pet parents suspect accidental decorative plant ingestion, they should contact an online vet or their local animal hospital immediately. 

Pet parents who are hosting should make sure they store any potentially harmful decorative plants that come into their home out of reach of their pets. If they're attending dinner where pets will be present and plan on bringing flowers, they should ensure the arrangement has only pet-safe varieties. 

3. Make Safe Accommodations for Travel or When Leaving Pets at Home

Pet parents who plan to travel for Thanksgiving have to factor their cats and dogs into the equation. How do they plan on getting to their destination? Where will they be staying? If they need to make a hotel reservation, does the property allow pets or have a policy against leaving pets unattended in the room?

In some cases, boarding pets may be the safest option. Pet parents should visit the boarding facility first to ensure it will be a good fit. They'll also need to make sure their pets' records are up-to-date. Alternatively, pet parents might consider hiring a pet sitter to feed, walk, and check in on their animals while they're away. Pet parents who will be gone for only a few hours should make sure their homes are safe before leaving. That may include putting decorations, food items, and plants out of reach to avoid accidental ingestion or injuries. 

4. Keep Alcoholic Drinks Nearby

Alcohol, even in small amounts, is toxic to pets. Ethanol and hops can cause vomiting, disorientation, muscle tremors, and seizures. Pets that consume too much alcohol or don't receive prompt treatment can face organ failure or even death.

Pet parents and their guests should never leave their alcoholic beverages unattended. If they need to go to another room, they should take their glass with them or leave it with another adult. They should also clean up spills immediately. Any foods containing alcohol should stay in a safe location where pets can't reach them. 

5. Ensure All Festive Decorations Are Out of Pet Reach

Thanksgiving decorations can attract the attention of curious cats and dogs. Pets may view items such as garlands, gourds, cornucopias, strings of lights, wreaths, and more as snacks or toys. Ingesting décor can lead to intestinal blockages, electrical cords put pets at risk of shock, and candles pose a burn risk. To keep pets safe, pet parents should keep any décor out of reach, whether they're home or not. 

6. Manage Pet Stress When Hosting Guests

Pets can become overwhelmed or anxious when there are too many people around, especially if they're people they don't know well. A dog or cat who's usually calm when a few visitors are present can become overstimulated or nervous on Thanksgiving. 

One way pet parents can help pets manage stress is to create a safe space. They can designate a separate room away from the action where cats and dogs can go to escape and calm down. Pet parents should include comfortable bedding, toys, and water. A sound machine or radio playing calming music may also help promote relaxation. Pet parents may also consider teaching their pets a command that will let them know it's time to go to their space if they notice any signs of anxiety or distress. 

What To Do in Case of a Holiday Pet Emergency 

With a few pet Thanksgiving safety tips in mind, pet parents can keep their cats and dogs safe during the holiday. Simple things like keeping unsafe foods, toxic plants, and holiday décor out of reach can avoid accidental ingestion, severe health issues, and (often expensive) visits to the emergency vet. Setting up a safe space in the home can also give pets a respite from the excitement when they need it. 

Thanksgiving can be hectic, but that doesn't mean cats and dogs need to experience unnecessary stress and anxiety. Fuzzy is here to help with additional tips for managing anxiety and advice on how to handle all kinds of holiday pet issues. Best of all, pet parents can contact Fuzzy's team of vets on Thanksgiving for emergency assistance should they need it. 

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