Top 5 Thanksgiving Tips For Dog And Cat Owners

Dog and kitten with autumn background.

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It’s hard to believe, but it’s that time of year again already. Thanksgiving is right around the corner. It’s time to get together with family to give thanks, and that includes our pets!

When it comes to the furry friends and family members at our celebrations, we need to take some extra care to keep them safe.

Before you defrost the Thanksgiving turkey and welcome your guests, here are some tips all dog and cat owners should keep in mind this holiday season.

1. Save The Human Food For Humans

dog licking nose by turkey

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There may be nothing quite as delicious as Thanksgiving food, and those intoxicating smells are sure to have your pet begging for a taste of the turkey and trimmings.

But ignore those pleading eyes because ingesting the rich meats, certain fruits, and desserts of the holiday season can cause some serious health problems for your cat or dog.

The fat content in Thanksgiving meats and sides are sometimes difficult for a human to digest, but can prove dangerous for your pet. Eating too much fatty Thanksgiving food, especially things like turkey skin and gravy, can not only cause severe stomach upset, constipation, diarrhea, or vomiting, it can also put your dog at risk for pancreatitis.

Poultry bones, both raw and cooked, have been known to cause series health issues in pets. When ingested, bone fragments and splinters can break off and get caught in the pet’s mouth or esophagus, causing them to choke. Bone shards can also cause serious punctures in the digestive tract that can lead to a bacterial infection called peritonitis, a condition that can prove fatal.

Many commonly used ingredients in Thanksgiving food can be toxic to your pet. Dried fruits, nuts, chocolate, mushrooms, onions, alcohol, and even some herbs and spices can pose a danger when eaten.

Sage, an herb frequently found in Thanksgiving stuffings and dressings, can even cause damage to a dog’s central nervous system if ingested in large quantities.

Make sure that your guests know that there is a strict “no table scraps” rule this holiday season. Keep your feast out of Fido’s reach and try a dog treat-stuffed Kong for your pups during dinner instead.

2. Maintain Your Pet’s Regular Routine

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With loud parties, new people, hectic schedules, and emotions running high, it’s easy to forget your four-legged family members might be just as stressed out as you this Thanksgiving.

The holidays can be a time of anxiety for you—and your pet—so try to stick to their normal schedule as best as you can. If your dog is used to their morning walk, don’t skip it just because it’s Thanksgiving. If your pet is used to eating at the same time every day, make sure to keep that same feeding schedule on Turkey Day.

Sticking to your animal’s daily routine can provide a sense of normalcy and help to alleviate at least some of your pet’s holiday stress.

3. Lay The Ground Rules For Kids And Other Guests

kid with dog and cats

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Thanksgiving typically means welcoming a bunch of people into your home, and sometimes these people are completely new to your pet.

If your dog is shy around new people or can’t behave calmly around large groups, try some socialization training. Contacting a trainer or animal behaviorist can be a good way to get individualized training plans and can help your dog learn to behave around new people.

Cats can also learn socialization skills. Exposing them to new people throughout their lives can help, and starting from a young age makes it much easier. Make the experiences positive with lots of praise and rewards.

Your guests should understand how to interact with your cat or dog well before the party begins. Before Uncle Saul, Aunt Cindy, and the kids even walk through the door, make sure to go over proper dog- and cat-greeting procedures.

Guests should know and agree to abide by any ground rules that you have regarding interacting with your pet–something that you should make clear from the get-go.

And, very importantly, do not leave children unattended around your cat or dog.

4. Provide A Quiet Place For Freaked Out Pets

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Holiday gatherings can sometimes prove overwhelming for more skittish pets, so be sure to provide a safe sanctuary away from the party for your dog or cat if necessary.

The spot should be quiet, calm, and set back from the flow of party traffic. Provide some favorite toys for comfort, and make sure to place your pet’s food and water dishes where they can be easily accessed.

Take time away from your guests to check on your pet throughout the evening, as well.

5. Keep Collars On And Make Sure Microchip Info Is Up-To-Date

Australian Shepherd peeking through fall leaves on black background

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As guests arrive, step outside, and leave for the evening after your Thanksgiving feast, your dog or cat might take the opportunity to make a break for it out of the front door or the back gate. The holiday season can put even the pets least likely to run away on edge, and it is possible that Fido or Fluffy could get loose.

Before your guests arrive, make sure that your pet’s collar is on, fastened, and secure. Check all identification tags on the collar for your current contact information.

And finally, if your pet doesn’t have one already, a microchip is a great way to make sure that they can be identified, even if their collar has been removed. Contact your veterinarian about having a microchip implanted before the holiday season is in full swing.

If your pet already has a microchip, it is a good idea to double-check that it has up-to-date information. It’s better to be safe than sorry this holiday season.

Are you celebrating Thanksgiving with your pets? What do you do to keep them safe around the feast? Let us know in the comments below!