From guest lists and travel, to groceries and cooking, preparing for Thanksgiving can be complicated. Add your pet into the mix, and you may want to hide out until New Year’s. Our Twin Maples Veterinary Hospital wants to keep things simple, and we’re sharing some simple equations for a pet-safe Thanksgiving.

Unattended food + hungry pet = recipe for disaster

The abundance of mouthwatering Thanksgiving treats and fixings can be hard for your pet to resist. They may be a model canine citizen during meal times, but few pets will pass up a plate full of food left on a coffee table, or a turkey bone sticking out of the trash can. Many traditional Thanksgiving recipes contain ingredients that can be toxic for pets.

  • Turkey — The star of the Thanksgiving show can, unfortunately, cause problems for your pet. The high-fat skin can trigger pancreatitis, a painful, potentially life-threatening inflammation, and the bones can easily splinter and injure your pet’s mouth or throat.
  • Spices and herbs — Stuffing, turkey brine, and other premade holiday foods often contain herbs, essential oils, and resins that can be toxic, especially to cats. Pets who eat these ingredients have an increased risk of gastrointestinal (GI) upset or central nervous system depression. 
  • Yeast rolls — Eating unbaked yeast rolls or any raw dough can result in painful gas and intestinal bloating.
  • Xylitol — This artificial sweetener found in sugar-free candies and baked goods causes an insulin release in pets, causing their blood sugar to drop. Signs include weakness, incoordination, and seizures.
  • Alcohol — Pets are highly susceptible to alcohol poisoning. Signs include incoordination, lethargy, and vomiting.
  • Chocolate — This decadent ingredient, used in many delicious sweet treats, contains caffeine and theobromine, which stimulate the central nervous system in pets. Signs to watch for include agitation, vomiting, and diarrhea.

While the list of foods that should be avoided may seem overwhelming, raw fruits and vegetables, including baby carrots, green beans, apples, sweet potato, and pumpkin puree—not the sweetened, spiced pie filling—make great, pet-friendly Thanksgiving treats.

An open door – pet supervision = door dash

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving, your front door will likely be opened many times as friends and family trickle in. Without close supervision, your pet can slip out unnoticed, and potentially become lost or injured. As guests arrive and depart, keep your pet confined to a bedroom, or behind a baby gate, so they cannot rush out the door. 

Strangers + commotion = confusion for pets

A large group of unfamiliar people and Thanksgiving celebration commotion can make your pet nervous and uncomfortable. Set them up with a retreat, such as a quiet bedroom away from the festivities. Include some favorite toys, comfortable bedding, and calm background music, so they can take a break until they are ready to socialize. 

Curious pet + Thanksgiving decorations = emergency trip to the vet

You see festive decor, but your pet sees strange new toys that they want to chew and taste. Decorations make great additions to your holiday celebration, but not if they are ingested by your pet. Keep the following items out of your pet’s reach to avoid GI problems and an unexpected Thanksgiving veterinary bill.

  • Small gourds, pumpkins, and acorns — Pets may mistake these for toys and accidentally choke on or consume them, leading to a painful intestinal obstruction.
  • Candles — Lit candles are a nice touch, but a passing tail can be burned, or a wayward paw can knock the candle over and cause a fire.
  • Toxic plants — Several holiday plants, including autumn crocuses, lilies, and chrysanthemums, are poisonous to pets.
  • Essential oils or liquid potpourri — Many oils are toxic to pets, who may inhale droplets or absorb the oils through their skin, or while grooming, causing respiratory distress, neurologic signs, or liver failure. 

Thanksgiving road trip – pet restraint = distracted driver

If you’re traveling with your pet this Thanksgiving, secure them in a harness attached to the seat, or in a well-ventilated crate large enough for them to stand, lie down, and turn around. Keep your pet in the back car seat to avoid an injury from a deployed airbag, and ensure the crate is secured and won’t slide if you stop quickly. 

Preparation + planning = safe pet

As you make plans for your pet this Thanksgiving, remember that what matters most is simple—their safety. Of course, accidents can happen, so contact our team at Twin Maples Veterinary Hospital if you have a pet emergency. 

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