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From Food to Decorations: Top Thanksgiving Hazards for Pets

The holiday season is upon us and while we enjoy holiday-themed drinks, festive decorations, and more time with family and friends, we should also keep an extra eye on our pets.

With Thanksgiving around the corner, we wanted to share the top dangers presented to pets around this time of year. Avoid a pet emergency and take precautions to keep your dogs and cats safe from harm.

Dangerous Foods for Pets

The traditions we have built around food are near and dear to our hearts. But because it can be confusing to know what food is safe and which ones pose a risk to your pet, it’s our job to remind everyone about what could go wrong if they share the wrong human food with a furry family member.

  • Eating turkey or turkey skin, gravy, butter, or other fatty or sugary foods can cause a life-threatening condition called pancreatitis.
  • Discarded foods and trash are a severe risk to pets. Ingesting bones, poultry skin, strings, bags, wrappings, and other trash can pose significant health problems. Bones can splinter and cause choking or get caught in the intestine and cause a blockage. Place all trash outdoors or behind a locked door in a tightly sealed bag and a closed container.
  • Xylitol, a common artificial sweetener, can cause a life-threatening drop in blood sugar and induce liver failure.
  • Raisins, currents, and grapes can cause kidney failure in some animals.
  • Onions, garlic, and chives may cause digestive upset or damage to red blood cells, especially in cats.
  • Chocolate can cause gastrointestinal upset, heart arrhythmias, and even death, depending on the type and the amount ingested.
  • Macadamia nuts can cause depression, vomiting, and shaking when ingested.

If you have guests visiting you for a Thanksgiving feast, remind them not to feed your pets any human food. Also, keep all plates and cups out of your pet’s reach.

Keep Decorations Out of Reach

Some flowers and decorative plants can be toxic to pets, so if you plan to include live plants on your Thanksgiving table, check the ASPCA list for dogs and cats to help you decide the safest options.

Other holiday decorations such as candles, string lights, faux flowers, leaves, gourds, and ornamental corn cobs may look festive, but they can all be dangerous to pets, especially those who like to explore the world with their mouths. Keep these and all decorations out of pets’ reach.

Thanksgiving Guests and Travel

Thanksgiving holidays are prime time for guests and parties, which can be stressful for pets. To help them relax and stay safe, we recommend the following:

Leave them at home. If you’re planning to travel for the day or overnight, consider leaving your pet in the care of a qualified pet sitter. Holiday travel isn’t for the faint of heart; pets may appreciate staying in their home. If you travel with your pet, follow our pet travel safety guidelines.

Create a safe space. If you’ll be hosting the holiday, create a quiet room for your pet to retreat to. Although some pets relish social interaction, they may still seek a place to take a break from the hustle and bustle. Set them up in a bedroom, laundry room, or quiet spot with their bed, crate, water bowl, toys, treats, and litter box. A pre-party walk, hike, or playtime can be an excellent way to release excess energy before guests arrive.

Offer a distraction. As you’re entertaining, cooking, and cleaning up, it’s not always possible to supervise your pet around the table. It’s a good idea to grab some toys and treats and let your pet chill out in their safe space during all the excitement. Freeze a Kong with peanut butter inside and give it to them while you’re occupied, but don’t forget to check on them often whenever your pet has a chew toy. A radio or white noise machine can also offer a way to calm your pet.

Keep guests in the know. You may know that even a bite of stuffing can make your pet sick, but make sure any guests know the food safety rules regarding your pets. Ensure your pets don’t escape the house or yard by leaving signs on doors or gates to ensure everyone remembers to keep them closed. If children will be present, talk with them about safely interacting with your pet (if you will allow that). Talk to your guests about any other ways they can help make the holiday enjoyable for all.

Thanksgiving is a beautiful time of year to share with pets as long as we take the necessary precautions. Of course, our emergency hospital will be open 24/7 this holiday season, so if you need us, we are here. Enjoy!

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