Tips for Creating a Pet-Friendly Thanksgiving

Nov_iStock_000023729783_MediumWhether you’ve decided to take on the chore of hosting this year’s turkey feast, or you’re planning on traveling to see the fam with your favorite pooch in tow, big holidays and gatherings are the hallmark of this time of year.

For many, including a family pet in the holiday festivities is a given – after all, our pet is a part of the family and enjoys being included and surrounded by the love and attention of family members and friends. Thankfully, we live in a pet-friendly world that’s pretty inclusive when it comes to accommodating our companion animals.

However, there are some aspects of the hectic holidays that should be considered to keep the joy and jingle in any celebration. Before emBARKing on your plans for the day of thanks, here are a few safety tips to help you address common health risks to your pet (and what you can do to avoid them).

Creating Your Pet-Friendly Thanksgiving

  • Fatty Foods – Delicious gravy and turkey skin may sound like a great meal for our dog or cat, but in reality, fatty, rich foods can make for a miserable Thanksgiving when our pet succumbs to digestive upset or even pancreatitis or gastroenteritis, which can be both painful and life-threatening. Avoid giving your pet human foods, but if you opt to do so, please be mindful of sticking to lean, skinless turkey meat (cooked and deboned) or a small amount of steamed, unseasoned green beans or baby carrots.
  • Toxicity – Holidays often bring greater risk when it comes to food toxicity because so many new or rich food items are on the table (and we are generally distracted by cooking, eating, and visiting). Two major culprits in serious poisoning situations are chocolate and Xylitol (an artificial sugar substitute, which can be lethally toxic, even in small amounts). Other nasty pet toxins include garlic and onions, nutmeg, alcohol, grapes, raisins, nuts, and sage.
  • Garbage – Open garbage containers and compost buckets, as well as plates set aside with all-too-tempting scraps or left-overs, can be risky business, especially when it comes to our dogs. Since it is impossible to know what your pet may have ingested – including foil, plastic, or even turkey string – keep a lid on all trash containers (or keep them outside and away from your pet’s play area), and ask guests to put plates on a high kitchen counter or other safe zone.
  • Bones – Despite the old wives’ tale that bones are great for dogs – and even good for teeth – this is not true. Bones can splinter and create gastric, throat, and mouth injuries and blockages, and can even break teeth. Make sure bones and other meat scraps are properly discarded.
  • Poisonous Plants – Poinsettias are a lovely plant we often think of during Thanksgiving and Christmas, as well as the winter season. But, they are also quite poisonous! Consult this list of toxic plants before you display your favorite bouquet or basket.
  • Exercise and Quiet Time – Sometimes, in the midst of so many strange people, noises, and temptations, our pets can feel a bit anxious or stressed. To help your pet cope with the holiday hubbub, make sure to give him or her plenty of consistent, daily exercise and provide a quiet place with toys and other activities during the busiest part of the Thanksgiving celebration.

Please also keep in mind that time is of the greatest importance when it comes to a pet poisoning situation. Call us immediately in the event of suspected toxicity.

From your team at Wellesley-Natick Veterinary Hospital, we wish you and yours a very happy and pet-safe Thanksgiving.