Thanksgiving is almost here! And, while it’s a fantastic time of the year for our taste buds, it can be risky for our pets. Here are a few precautions you can take to keep your pet safe this Thanksgiving.
7 tips for keeping your pet safe this thanksgiving
#1. Keep pets out of the kitchen and dining area
Delicious food is an important aspect of any holiday, but it’s the headlining act on Thanksgiving. And, if that mouth-watering aroma is tempting to us, imagine how your pet feels, with their enhanced sense of smell.
Whether it’s sitting on the counter being prepared, sitting on the table waiting to be served or its remains are sitting in the trash can, a lot of animals will take any open opportunity to get a bite for themselves.
It can be difficult to keep track of your pet during the hustle and bustle of preparing your feast and visiting with friends and family (on Zoom or in-person), leaving them with ample opportunity to steal food that may not be so good for them.
Even if you normally feel you can trust your pet, the added excitement of the day can make pets do unpredictable things. Remove the temptation by keeping your pet out of the kitchen and dining areas.
#2. Learn which table scraps are safe
Giving your pet table scraps is almost never a good idea. Pets have sensitive stomachs that can be easily upset by some of the richer, fattier foods we enjoy during the holidays.
Not to mention, making a habit of eating people food will lead to begging and other poor manners, and your pet could become overweight, which puts them at risk for all kinds of health problems.
However, I totally understand the urge to splurge a little bit on Thanksgiving. After all, you’re enjoying a bonafide feast, and you want to share the love a little with your pet. But, you always want to make sure that you know which table scraps are safe before giving your pet anything.
There are many different holiday foods that can be dangerous for your pet to eat. Here are a few safe holiday treats you can give your pet this Thanksgiving:
- Turkey (unseasoned, properly cooked — never give your pet turkey bones)
- Bread (plain, baked — no raw dough)
- Carrots (unseasoned)
- Sweet potatoes
- Green beans (unseasoned, raw)
#3. Be mindful about where you put decorations
The holidays aren’t the holidays without a house full of decorations! Decorations help to bring the holidays alive and transform our homes into magical wonderlands, but you should be careful where you put them.
Beautiful as decorations may be, many of them look a lot like enticing toys to our furry friends. And, the last thing that you want is for your pet to ingest a chunk of your cornucopia basket or tear up your stuffed, plush turkey.
I can tell you from personal experience, it’s not fun when your dog eats something that has to be removed surgically, for you or your dog. It’s also very expensive.
Put up holiday decorations to your heart’s desire; just make sure that they are out of your pet’s reach.
#4. Watch where you put holiday plants
Speaking of decorations, there are plenty of plants that help to bring the season to life in our homes. But, it’s important to be mindful about where you place those plants.
Pets love to chew on just about anything they can get ahold of, and plants are no exception. Unfortunately for our furry friends, though, many of our favorite holiday plants are toxic and can be incredibly dangerous when ingested.
Some of the most toxic decorative holiday plants include holly, autumn crocus, poinsettias, mistletoe, amaryllis, chrysanthemum, acorns and pine.
If you do decide to brighten up your table or home with holiday plants, do a little research first to ensure that they are safe for pets. And, if you have your heart set on decorating with a toxic plant, make sure it’s unreachable for your pet or consider buying fake plants.
#5. Prepare for guests
Are you planning on having guests over this Thanksgiving? If so, there are a number of things you can do to make the experience safer and more enjoyable for your pet.
First, make sure that your pet has somewhere quiet they can go if the excitement gets too much for them or they need a break from your guests. A kennel or quiet corner is a good option for this.
Second, talk to your guests ahead of time about how to interact with your pet. Let them know your stance on table scraps, warn them about possible shoe-snatching or potential attempts to sneak out the front door, etc.
Finally, keep an eye on your pets when you have guests in the house. The added excitement of the day can make pets nervous and act in unpredictable ways, like stealing food, chewing decorations or even biting. If your pet seems distressed, remove them from the situation.
#6. Prepare for travel
Are you planning on traveling out of town for Thanksgiving? Whether you’re traveling with your pet or not, there are certain things you can do to keep them safe.
If you aren’t traveling with your pet, you’ll obviously need someone to take care of them while you’re gone. You may have someone stay with your pet at your house, board your pet somewhere you trust or find your pet a place to say with a trusted friend or family member.
Avoid putting out a large bowl of food and leaving your pet to their own devices, or having someone over just to feed them. Cats and dogs are both incredibly social animals who need companionship.
If you’re planning to take your pet with you on a road trip, make sure that you plan a route that offers plenty of opportunities for your pet to relieve themselves. Also, plan for additional time, as your pet will need to get a drink, stretch their legs and go to the bathroom frequently.
If you’re planning on flying with your pet, ensure that you are familiar with the airline’s pet policy.
#7. Have a plan in case of emergency
Sometimes, precautions or not, your pet gets into something they shouldn’t or has an accident and injures themselves. With everything going on during the holidays, the risk of this happening is even higher because it feels impossible to monitor their every move.
The point is that you never know what could happen. And, it only takes a few minutes of your pet being out of your sight for them to ingest something that could hurt them. It’s always important to know what you’ll do in case of an emergency.
If you’re staying home (or you’ll be close-by), learn about your veterinarian’s holiday hours and availability. It’s also a good idea to look for emergency vets nearby or ask your veterinarian for a recommendation for after-hours emergency care.
If you’ll be traveling, do a little research ahead of time to see what your options are for emergency veterinary care. It’s far better to have a few phone numbers handy ahead of time than it is to scramble to find a vet when your pet needs immediate care.
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