3 Easy Rules for Keeping Pets Safe on Thanksgiving

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Ah, Thanksgiving. A special holiday to give thanks for all that we have with our family. And who could forget all the delicious food! But there’s one family member you gotta watch out for on Thanksgiving. Yep. Your pets.

This year, consider a few “House Rules” for a safe, healthful Thanksgiving.

dog looking longingly at thanksgiving table

Image created using “Thanksgiving Table“, used under CC BY 2.0 via Flickr

Rule #1: Don’t feed the dog.

Not every one know what food is good or bad for dogs, or -more importantly- your dog. Let friends and family, and especially kids, know that people food is not for the dog.

Potentially dangerous Thanksgiving foods
  • Raisins. While delicious in stuffing, these fruits can result in severe acute kidney injury. What’s worse, signs of poisoning often don’t show up for days, at which point your pet is most likely in kidney failure.
  • Xylitol. This artificial sweetner is deadly to pets. I’m not even sure why you’d use it – are we really counting calories today? But I’ve digressed…
  • Fatty table scraps. Gravy, turkey skin, etc. can result in severe pancreatitis at worst to excessive gas at best, which is still not fun to be around.
  • Bones. Cooked bird bones are very brittle and those sharp piece can tear up your pet’s mouth and throat. Even though the raw ones are more pliant they can still get stuck in their throat or their intestines, cause a blockage or (gulp) a perforation.
  • Onions, leeks, chives and garlic. Ah, the Allium family. This is big for cats – they can become anemic after consuming a small amount. Thankfully, this is typically seen more with chronic ingestion (e.g., when they are eating it for days), but to be safe, keep these out of reach.
  • Yeast dough. Fresh baked bread is delicious, emphasis on the baked. The yeast in raw dough can expand in your dog’s stomach, releasing carbon dioxide (filling your dog up with gas). In a one-two punch, the yeast and sugar then metabolize into alcohol.
  • Alcohol. This sneaky ingredient makes its way to dogs from some pretty strange places (Aunt Edith’s rum-soaked fruit cake, anyone?) Alcohol can cause slowed respiration, dangerously low blood sugar and even lead to coma in dogs.

But, realistically, we’ve all snuck some scraps under the table to a waiting pet during Thanksgiving. I mean, there’s just SO. MUCH. FOOD. If you want to give them a treat, you can make a selection of healthy bits.

Thanksgiving Foods You Can Share With Your Pets
  • Turkey. White-meat turkey can be a wonderful lean protein to share with your pet. You will just want to be sure to remove any excess skin, fat and bones.
  • Mashed potatoes. Potatoes are a great, filling vegetable, just be aware of additional ingredients, like cheese, chives and sour cream, that could be smashed in.
  • Cranberry sauce. Just watch the amount of sugar in it. It is probably best keep pets’ portions small.
  • Macaroni and cheese. Depending how your pet handles dairy (many cats are lactose intolerant), macaroni and cheese is a safe to share. If you don’t know, it may be best to just give plain macaroni. It’s still a treat!
  • Plain green beans and carrots. Fresh vegetables are a great addition to any diet. If the green beans are included in a green bean casserole, again, just be conscious of the other ingredients.

It’s also a good idea to serve these treats into their food bowl and at their normal dinner time, to prevent any “begging” behaviors from forming.

Rule #2: Keep them out of the kitchen

This is the safest bet. Counter-surfing can result in severe poisoning to your pet, and nothing dampens the holiday spirit like a trip to the emergency room and/or having to induce vomiting in your dog in front of all your friends and family. (Gross)

On a non-food related note, your kitchen is a buzz of activity on Thanksgiving. This can be overwhelming for some pets, so giving them a safe quiet place away from the action can be a blessing.

Rule #3. Empty the trash regularly

That can fills up faster than you can believe sometimes. And if there are delicious scraps, you can be sure at least that they are thinking about it.

But it’s not just the food in there, right? All the delicious-smelling strings, plastic holders and bags that the food came in are in there too. These items can damage or block the intestines. Remove the temptation by taking out the trash as soon as it is full.

Thanksgiving is all about giving thanks – what are you thankful for?

Tell us in the comments!

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