Thanksgiving Pet Safety

Dog sitting on leaves

Thanksgiving is a special holiday that brings together a few of our favorite things—family, friends, and food. While your furry friend may be an important member of the family, it’s important to remember there are some traditions your pet shouldn’t take part in this Thanksgiving.

According to Kit Darling, infection control coordinator at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, food outside of your pet’s routine diet is likely to cause digestive upset, and there are several holiday foods that are hazardous to pets.

“Some rich foods may cause digestive problems or pancreatitis,” she said. “Do not allow your pets to ingest turkey skin or dark meat, turkey bones, garlic, sage, onions, grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, chocolate, bread dough, or the artificial sweetener xylitol.”

Turkey and ham bones cause choking hazards and can splinter in the digestive tract, which could lead to an unplanned holiday trip to the emergency room. Fully cooked and boneless ham or turkey meat is OK to feed pets; however, owners should avoid feeding them anything with excess fat or seasoning.

“As an alternative to Thanksgiving food, owners can give their pets their own treat or safe chew toy away from the food preparation and dinner,” Darling said.

Owners can stick to their pet’s typical diet by mixing a bowl of their normal food with lean, boneless and skinless pieces of turkey or ham. Fresh vegetables such as green beans or sweet potatoes will also make a great addition to your pet’s Thanksgiving feast.

Owners should also keep an eye on special holiday displays, which may attract the attention of your pet, as well. Pets should be kept away from pine cones, decorative flowers and plants, candles, and electrical cords.

In addition, visitors can upset your pets, leaving them stressed or anxious during the holiday. A solution for this is to keep pets in a quiet room or crate with a treat or toy, according to Darling.

“Thanksgiving can be stressful for you and your pets, with changes in their routine, visitors, and travel,” she said. “Remember to give your pet attention and provide them with a safe place to retreat to if things get too loud or intense. Before the holiday, it may be beneficial to give your pet the opportunity to be around people of all ages.”

When visitors arrive or leave, Darling reminds owners to secure their pets to prevent them from running or sneaking out of the house. If your pet does happen to make a run for it, identification tags and microchips with current contact information will play a major role in their return home.

By following these simple precautions, you can ensure your pet remains safe and happy this Thanksgiving. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, your pet will be forever thankful that you kept them healthy for the holiday season.

Pet Talk is a service of the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. Stories can be viewed on the web at Suggestions for future topics may be directed to .

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