As Thanksgiving rolls around, you are usually focused on friends, family, and food—not dangers to your four-legged friend. But, from toxic foods to travel plans gone awry, hazards abound for your pet. With a little bit of planning ahead, however, you can keep your pet safe and out of trouble while enjoying the holiday together. 

When you give thanks at the holiday feast, be thankful you prepared for potential turkey-day threats. Keep your furry pal safe from Thanksgiving disasters with our Countryside Veterinary Hospital team’s tips.

#1: Refuse your pet’s help in the kitchen

Cooking an extravagant Thanksgiving feast may require all hands on deck, but do not add paws to the mix of helping hands. Your pet can get into a ton of trouble if they hang out in the kitchen while you cook by snagging toxic foods when your back is turned. Blocking your pet’s access to the kitchen during Thanksgiving feast prep is best, but if you can’t keep them out, ensure they stay away from the following ingredients and dishes:

  • Turkey and ham — If your pet ingests turkey and ham, especially in large amounts, they can suffer a multitude of health problems. Bones can splinter and puncture or block the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, high fat content can trigger pancreatitis, and spices and seasonings can cause stomach upset or toxicity.
  • Rich side dishes — Creamy mashed potatoes drowning in rich gravy are a popular side dish, but many Thanksgiving comfort foods are too high in fat to safely share with your pet.
  • Yeast dough — Unbaked yeast dough can lead to alcohol poisoning or a blockage as the dough rises in your pet’s stomach.
  • Spices and seasonings — While small amounts likely won’t harm your pet, large quantities, such as from a spilled container, may cause GI upset or toxicity.
  • Alcoholic beverages — No matter how low a beverage’s alcohol content, never share alcohol with your pet. Cats and dogs are much more sensitive to alcohol’s effects and can easily become ill.

#2: Ask your guests to resist sharing with your pet

Well-meaning guests love to spoil pets with tidbits from the table, but small morsels can create big problems. Ask your guests to resist feeding your pet any extra treats, which can cause pancreatitis, toxicity, or GI distress or obstruction.

However, your four-legged friend can still join in the feast with pet-friendly menu items. Plate up a healthy Thanksgiving meal for your pet with these foods:

  • Boneless, skinless, unseasoned turkey breast pieces
  • Plain mashed sweet potatoes
  • Unseasoned steamed vegetables (e.g., green beans, carrots, broccoli)
  • Cooked or canned pumpkin (not pie filling)
  • Cored apple slices

#3: Give your pet a safe space free from party guests

Some pets prefer to enjoy holiday celebrations away from the main gathering’s commotion. If your furry pal becomes stressed and anxious when people visit, set them up in a quiet haven off-limits to guests. Provide your pet with a comfortable bed where they can relax, and play some white noise or a radio to help soften the hubbub outside the door.

#4: Lock up your leftovers

One of the best parts of Thanksgiving occurs after the table has been cleared and the guests have gone home—raiding the refrigerator for leftovers. As you snack on turkey, mashed potatoes, and sweet potato casserole by the refrigerator light, your furry pal may be eyeing your midnight snack, waiting for you to go back to bed to steal your leftovers from the trash.

Prevent digestive problems and potential toxicity by placing all uneaten leftovers, scraps, and used cooking supplies (e.g., aluminum foil) in a securely latched trash can. Take out the trash bag as soon as possible so your pet cannot be tempted by the turkey bones, grease-covered foil, and spoiled dairy products.

#5: Prepare your pet for safe travels

Traveling around the holidays is almost always hectic, so plan ahead and complete your to-do list for smooth sailing. Ensure your pet is up to date on their necessary vaccines, has plenty of prescription medication and parasite prevention to last the trip, and the contact information associated with their microchip and collar ID tags is current. If you plan on traveling across state lines or internationally with your pet, check your destination’s requirements. Traveling pets typically require a health certificate completed in a specific timeframe.

When counting your blessings this Thanksgiving, include a healthy, happy pet. Give thanks for your four-legged friend, and demonstrate your thanks with great health this holiday season and beyond by scheduling their next visit with our Countryside Veterinary Hospital team.