It’s hard to believe, but it’s that time of year again already. Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and before you defrost the 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
Everyone knows there’s nothing quite as delicious as Thanksgiving food, and those intoxicating smells and tastes are sure to have your pet begging for a taste of the turkey and trimmings. But ignore those pleading eyes no matter what, because ingesting the rich meats, vegetables, 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 the pet 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
(Picture Credit: Shutterstock)
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 his 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 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
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 not used to meeting new people or behaving calmly around large groups, try taking him out on a leash to a place that people frequent. As he gets accustomed to the different noises and smells of new people, reward your dog with treats for calm behavior. If you are unsure of where to begin, 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.
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
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
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 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 your pet can be identified, even if his or her collar has been removed. Contact your veterinarian about having a microchip implanted before the holiday season is in full swing. If your pet is already microchipped, it is a good idea to double-check that the information connected to the chip is updated. It’s better to be safe than sorry this holiday season.