We love our pets because they are unique, inquisitive, silly, and sometimes mischievous. However, their  innate curiosity can get them in trouble. Holidays are a particularly hectic time for most people, and while your family is preoccupied with the festivities, your pet could make a bad decision. Help your pet avoid a misstep on Thanksgiving that could ruin your holiday, and land them in the emergency room. Read our Lebanon Animal Hospital team’s tips to ensure an enjoyable time is had by all—your pet, family, and guests—during the festivities. Consider the holiday from your furry pal’s perspective, and head off your pet’s puckish ponderings to prevent a Thanksgiving disaster. 

#1: “This food smells great! I’ll just help myself.”

Food is the Thanksgiving main attraction, and can potentially cause your pet the most problems. Unfortunately, many tasty holiday foods can be toxic, overly fatty, or cause intestinal bstructions. Remember that pets have limited restraint around food, so never leave any tasty temptations unattended while you’re cooking, baking, prepping, or eating. Food waste is especially enticing to pets, so put food wrappers, vegetable peels, bones, and plate scrapings in a trash bag, and immediately remove the bag to an area your furry pal cannot access. If your pet is particularly prone to stealing goodies or begging, secure them in a room or area away from the kitchen or where you are serving food. Ensure your pet does not eat these common Thanksgiving foods:

  • Toxic foods — Xylitol, a sugar alternative used in baking, and chocolate top the toxic foods list and can cause your pet to experience severe illness or death. Other toxic foods include raisins, grapes, onions, garlic, macadamia nuts, and raw yeast dough. Call your veterinarian, a local emergency hospital, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, or the Pet Poison Helpline if you suspect your furry pal has ingested a food that is toxic to pets.
  • Fatty foods — Ingesting a treat or meal significantly higher in fat than their normal diet can cause your pet sudden digestive upset and severe pancreatic inflammation (i.e., pancreatitis), which causes vomiting, diarrhea, belly pain, and fever, potentially sidelining your pet for days in the hospital.
  • Bones — Cooked poultry bones splinter easily and can irritate or perforate the stomach and intestines, or obstruct them completely, which requires emergency surgery. In addition, do not give your pet corn cobs, which are another common culprit causing gastrointestinal obstruction.

#2: “These flowers smell great. Bet they taste yummy too.”

If your pet likes to graze on grass or plants outside, they are likely to chew on indoor plants as well. However, many houseplants and floral arrangements can be toxic to pets. Lilies are especially dangerous, but amaryllis, hydrangeas, and many others can also cause your pet to experience a life-threatening emergency. Check out the ASPCA’s list of toxic and non-toxic plants to ensure you allow only pet-safe indoor plants and flowers in your home, or opt for faux flowers. 

#3: “Too much love…I’m outta here!”

Some pets enjoy chaos and visitors, but noise, crowds, and unfamiliar people can make other pets anxious. Anxious pets are more likely to have negative interactions with guests, or their panic can cause them to bolt through the door as visitors arrive or leave. Provide anxious pets with a safe area inside your home to retreat from guests when they wish, or—if you believe they might run away—confine your dog or cat there. In addition, ask your veterinarian if supplements or medications can help your pet relax during the Thanksgiving festivities. If your pet enjoys mingling—and can remain well-behaved without pestering your guests—allow them to roam, but gate off rooms or areas that allow your furry pal access to doors leading outside.

Ensure your pet is wearing a collar and identification tags, so if they escape and get lost, anyone finding them can contact you. Better yet, have your veterinarian microchip your pet, and your furry pal will have permanent identification, which greatly increases their opportunity for a homecoming.

#4: “Wait…that pine cone wasn’t a toy?”

Your pet may confuse harvest decorations—such as corn husks, pine cones, and pumpkins—with chew toys or treats. Keep decor out of your pet’s reach, so they are not tempted to take a bite. In addition, remember that a candle’s flame can cause burns or a house fire if your pet knocks them over, and a flameless candle’s batteries are corrosive if swallowed.

#5: “Mom looks lonely in the driver’s seat. I should keep her company.”

Similar to children, pets can become a distraction if they are not safely restrained in a vehicle. Keep in mind that an unrestrained pet may be injured, thrown, or trapped in a vehicle accident. Cats can be confined to a carrier, small dogs can be placed in a carrier or car seat, and large dogs may be restrained using specially designed harnesses and seat belts. All pets should sit in the back, away from airbags that could harm them. If you will be traveling with your pet across state lines this Thanksgiving, ensure your pet is up to date on vaccinations, and get their health certificate from your veterinarian within 10 days of your trip.

This Thanksgiving, anticipate your pet’s next move to prevent them from getting into mischief. Contact our Lebanon Animal Hospital team if you have additional questions about preparing your pet for Thanksgiving, or if you need anti-anxiety medications or a health certificate to travel with your furry pal.