As you prepare the turkey and all the fixins, be aware that Thanksgiving festivities can pose significant health risks for your pet. Our team at Animal Emergency Hospital and Urgent Care wants to help you keep your pet safe on the feastful day by providing do’s and don’ts that will help ensure your pet stays out of harm’s way.

DO ensure your pet is microchipped and tagged

Whether you are hosting the party, bringing your pet along to someone else’s house, or leaving your pet home alone, the change in routine can present the perfect opportunity for them to sneak away. Microchipping your pet is the best way to permanently identify them, and is highly recommended, especially if you are traveling with your pet, but you must keep your contact information updated in the registry’s database. In addition to the microchip, you should ensure your pet is wearing a collar and identification tags with your current contact information. 

DON’T let your pet join in on the feast

Any sudden change in your pet’s diet can result in gastrointestinal upset, and the high-fat foods typically found on the Thanksgiving table are particularly dangerous for your pet. The rich foods can trigger pancreatitis, a dangerous condition that causes significant pain, and can potentially be life-threatening. Other food concerns around the dinner table that can result in an emergency situation include:

  • Turkey — The fatty turkey skin can cause gastrointestinal upset, and potentially trigger pancreatitis. In addition, cooked turkey bones can easily splinter, and the shards that result can injure your pet’s mouth, esophagus, or intestine. Another concern is your pet eating an undercooked piece of turkey, which could put them at risk for Salmonella poisoning.
  • Onions and garlic — Onions, leeks, chives, and garlic contain thiosulphates, which cause your pet’s red blood cells to break down, leading to anemia. Initial signs include lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea, but as your pet becomes more anemic, signs progress to weakness, pale mucous membranes, and bloody urine.
  • Alcohol — You and your guests may enjoy celebrating with a cocktail or glass of wine, but alcohol ingestion can cause your pet’s blood sugar, blood pressure, and body temperature to dangerously drop. In severe cases, pets can experience seizures and respiratory failure.
  • Unbaked dough — If you are baking for the holiday, be careful where you leave the dough to proof. If your pet ingests unbaked dough that contains yeast, the substance will expand in their stomach, causing a blockage. In addition, alcohol from the fermenting yeast is rapidly delivered to your pet’s bloodstream, and can result in alcohol poisoning.
  • Chocolate — Caffeine and theobromine, ingredients found in chocolate, can cause central nervous stimulation and increased epinephrine levels in pets. All chocolate is toxic for pets, but baking chocolate and dark chocolate are the most problematic. Signs include restlessness, vomiting, and diarrhea.  

DO ensure your floral arrangements are pet friendly

Several plants used to decorate the Thanksgiving table are toxic to pets. These include:

  • Lilies — These beautiful flowers can cause stomach upset for dogs, but can be fatal for cats. All the plant parts, as well as the water in the vase, can result in kidney failure in cats. Initial signs include drooling, vomiting, and anorexia. 
  • Hydrangeas — Amygdalin is a cyanogenic glycoside found in hydrangeas that is poisonous to pets, if ingested, causing vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and confusion.
  • Autumn crocuses — These pretty plants contain colchicine, which is extremely toxic for pets, causing severe vomiting, gastrointestinal bleeding, liver and kidney damage, and respiratory failure.

Before choosing your Thanksgiving floral arrangement, research which plants are safe for your pet.

DON’T let your Thanksgiving decor be a pet hazard

Making your home beautiful for the celebration is part of the fun, but ensure your decoration choices are pet friendly.

  • Candles — Your curious cat or your dog’s wagging tail can easily knock over a lit candle, causing a fire hazard.
  • Potpourri — This nice smelling decoration contains herbs and oils that can be dangerous for your pet.
  • Linear objects — Ribbons, string, and twine used for decorations can be ingested, resulting in a gastrointestinal obstruction that may require surgery for removal.

DO ensure your pet is prepared if you are traveling

If you are traveling and leaving your pet behind, ensure they will be well cared for by a trusted pet sitter or a reputable boarding facility. If you are traveling with your pet, ensure they remain safe.

  • By vehicle — Ensure your pet is appropriately restrained while you are driving. Small pets should remain in a carrier that is located away from air bags, and larger pets should be secured with a fitted harness. Never leave your pet unattended in the vehicle, because pets are extremely susceptible to heatstroke, which can become life-threatening quickly. 
  • By plane — Traveling in a plane’s cargo hold can be dangerous and unpredictable for your pet. Therefore, we recommend that you take your pet on a flight only if they can travel with you in the cabin. 

As the holiday feasting begins, you can help keep your pet safe by following these do’s and don’ts. However, if your pet still manages to experience a veterinary emergency during the Thanksgiving festivities, contact our team at Animal Emergency Hospital and Urgent Care, so we can cure what ails them.