We can all agree- when it comes to things we are thankful for in our lives, our beloved pets are always at the top of our list. Thanksgiving is a holiday intended to do just that.
BUT, the combination of lots of food, many people, and other distractions can easily make a get together one of regrets for your pets. No one wants to spend an overnight in the ER with their pet. Think about these safety tips to ensure that your holiday is one that is safe and fun for you and your furry loved ones.

Keep your pet away from these dangerous festive foods and ingredients

. Avoid giving your pet turkey meat especially fatty dark meat and skin. The skin is high in fat, and can cause gastrointestinal upset, or even pancreatitis.
A few  small boneless, well cooked, preferably non-seasoned pieces of white meat should be fine. Salmonella lurks in uncooked or undercooked meat.
Raw meat is a no no, as is a leftover bones. They can splinter and cause gastrointestinal injury, and can also be a choking hazard. There is always at least one family member present that insists they have given their dog turkey bones “for years and he has always been fine”.  That may be true, but I am here to tell you that it is a real concern.
That guest, who may sneak food under the table, will be long gone or long asleep by the time you are at the vet deciding to uninvite them next year, if not forever.

Spices Onion, leeks, chives and garlic are toxic to dogs and cats. Be aware of what you have added to your meal, or other guests have added. Their “secret” ingredient may need to be disclosed if you intend to feed table scraps to your pet. As always, it is better to avoid table scraps in general, but I know enough to assume that it will happen and it is best to choose safer “treats”.

Cooked bread pieces are probably the safest “snack”. Unbaked dough containing yeast is not, for your dog or cat. The reasons are twofold. First, the dough can continue to rise  and expand in the heat of the body once ingested, potentially resulting in an intestinal blockage.
And, once eaten, the yeast will continue to convert the dough’s sugars into carbon dioxide and alcohol, which could become a life-threatening situation for your pet.
My advice: If you are making homemade dinner rolls, be sure to proof your dough somewhere out of reach such as in a turned-off oven or microwave, as opposed to the easy to reach counter.

Keep pets away from mixing bowls with raw eggs, possible xylitol (artificial sweetener toxic to dogs), chocolate, fruitcakes that contain raisins or currants.

Instead, feed them
raw fruits and vegetables such as baby carrots, green beans, apples, chunks of sweet potato, or UNSWEETENED pumpkin puree (the sweetened spiced pie filling is not a good idea).

Since we are discussing pumpkins….
If you decorate with pumpkins, avoid giving your pets too much raw pumpkin. In moderation it can be ok and help with some digestive issues that are helped with fiber. Too much can csue stomach upset. And old pumpkins can become rotten, which when ingested can harbor illness-causing bacteria.
Consider fake candles, that are battery operated. Tails can swish a lit candle-filled pumpkin, causing injury or a fire. Keep them out of reach of pets.

Beware of small pieces on decorations that pets could ingest. Same goes for costumes you might put on your pet. (See Halloween blog for tips on whether or not this is a good idea for your pet).

If you put up a Christmas tree on or soon after Thanksgiving, keep glass ornaments, and especially the metal hooks, tinsel, pinecones and light strands out of pets’ reach.

Floral centerpieces are pretty, but some may contain toxic plants best avoided. Familiarize yourself with those plants toxic to dogs and cats.

Some popular fall plants often included in centerpieces this time of year, toxic to dogs and cats:
Autumn crocus
Acorns from oak trees.

If you suspect your pet has consuemd anything poisonous, keep your veterinarian’s number handy, or Poison control . The ASPCA 24 hour hotline is 888-426-4435.

Prepare for guests, secure the perimeter…’
I know that my dog gets excited when there are multiple guests. I often give her an over the counter herbal sedative to keep her calm. Zylkene works for 24 hours, and Bach’s Rescue Remedy is a tincture. I use both of them as needed, and recommend them for my cat and dog patients. And plug in a Feliway cat pheromone relaxing diffuser a few days before, just to take the edge off the excitement of the day for your often reluctant feline hosts.

Make sure your pets have ID of some form on them. A collar, or microchip are important, in case they escape and run off as guests arrive and leave. Consider a gated area to confine them to if they become easily overwhelmed, or a separate room if, say, your cat just does not enjoy the volume and chaos that some get togethers can be.
Keep guest bags, purses, etc, high on hooks or in a room of their own, where curious pets cannot get into them. Prescription medicines, sugar free gum, and candy can lurk in bags, and be absconded by your pet. You may not even be made aware of it until the next day, when an aunt phones to say her medication went missing, and it is too late to induce vomiting.

All said, after some simple precautions, I hope you all enjoy a safe, happy, healthy Thanksgiving.

Dr. Dawn