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Thanksgiving Safety Tips for Your Pets

‘Tis the season for friends, family and holiday feasts. The smell of turkey fills the house as the sounds of family members catching up drowns out the football game on TV. Children run through the house while adults race around the kitchen and still others relax outside on the back porch. Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of year that brings many families together for laughter, stories and great food, but also for possible distress for our animal companions.

The week of Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel days of the year, and traveling with a pet can add another level of stress to your travels. But you are a responsible pet owner, you’ve planned out everything you need to do before your trip, you’ve packed everything your pet needs. However, all of this planning can be wasted if you don’t prepare for what to expect when you arrive!

We’ve got 12 safety tips for your pets when visiting family this Thanksgiving. – Article Courtesy of Burton Hohman who is a writer for Natural Balance pet food company. 
  1. Is anybody allergic to your pet?

    This may seem like an obvious one, but with all the stress of packing and planning for a trip it’s a question that could get easily forgotten. Even if you are staying with family that isn’t allergic, there may be guests who are. Make sure you ask visitors as they arrive if they have any pet allergies. Your nephew’s new girlfriend may be too shy or embarrassed to say anything. As a pet owner it’s important to make sure visitors are comfortable with your pet, especially when you are in someone else’s home.

  2. Will there be other pets?

    If your family’s Thanksgiving celebration is pet friendly that doesn’t mean you are off the hook! It’s important to know what other pets are going to be there and to find out how your pet will react. Pets can become easily stressed with all the new people around, and adding in other pets can lead to a potentially dangerous situation. Always keep an eye on your pet and try not to leave them alone with other pets. Your pet may be well trained, but your uncle’s pet may not be.

  3. Are there kids or babies in the family?

    Thanksgiving is a great time for all different generations to gather together from great-grandfathers to newborns it’s a wonderful time to be around family. As a pet owner it’s important to remember that some families don’t have pets, and for children this can be a great experience but it can also be scary. Many kids may not know how to act around your pet and may not know when you pet is just playing or when it is scared. Make sure your pet isn’t left alone with kids for long periods especially if your pet hasn’t been around kids before. Pets are naturally curious, but make sure your pet stays away from young babies unless the parents are comfortable with it and are there to supervise. This is as much for your pet’s safety as it is for the baby’s.

  4. Who’s in charge of your pet?

    This is another simple tip that’s easy to overlook. When it comes to Thanksgiving there is always something going on. Whether it’s cooking, setting the table, or watching football, everybody is busy. That’s why it is important to make sure somebody is in charge of your pet. Even if your pet is well trained at home, being in a new place with lots of new people can add significant amounts of stress on your pet. So if you get recruited to work in the kitchen or get drafted in the family football game, make sure you always ask someone to watch your pet while you are busy.

  5. Is the front door closed?

    At large family gatherings many people will be constantly coming and going through the front door. Typically most people remember to close the door behind them, but they can become easy to get distracted when hugging family members. Some pets may stay away from this constant commotion while others will be in the middle. Regardless of what type of pet you have, always remember to check the front door (or ask someone else to) when new guests arrive.

  6. Does the yard have a fence?

    From family football to cigars and drinks, the backyard can be a major hangout spot on Thanksgiving. As with the front door, people will be coming and going throughout the day and chances are your pet may try to join them. Always check to see if there is some kind of fence or enclosure to the yard. Even if there is, could your pet squeeze through it? Could they jump over it? After the hugs and greetings when you first arrive, explore the backyard to see if it would be safe for your pet.

  7. Too many pets in the kitchen?

    The kitchen can be a loud, busy and dangerous place during Thanksgiving. Keeping your pet out of the kitchen will not only keep them safe, but it will make the lives of those in the kitchen easier. If you insist on having your pet in the kitchen, make sure you watch out for some of the following.

    • Frozen Turkeys
    • A falling frozen turkey has enough force to severely injury or potential even kill a pet.
    • Hot Surfaces
    • A Thanksgiving kitchen is a ballet of constantly cooking dishes. Make sure to keep pets away from open ovens, pots and pans, and oil used for frying turkeys.
    • Tripping Hazard
    • With all the commotion it can become easy for a person to lose track of a pet. This could potentially lead to a person tripping over your pet causing injury to both.
  8. Where is the trash can?

    From spilled drinks to burnt turkey, a Thanksgiving celebration can accumulate mountains of trash. Make sure to check where the kitchen trash can is as this will fill up the fastest. Is it in a place your pet could reach? Also check to see if the trash bags are getting taken outside, and where the bags are being put.

  9. Are people sneaking your pet food?

    The games are over, the table has been set, people are at their seats, there is food on the table, but where is your pet? While Thanksgiving is a time for us to stuff our plates with delicious foods, it is important to make sure your pet is not doing the same. This can be a major problem especially when there are guests who don’t have pets. It can be easy for them to give in to puppy dog eyes or a soothing purr. Often times people may ignore your warnings about not feeding your pet thinking that just a few scraps wouldn’t be a big deal. Unfortunately, many of the foods on the table can be potentially very dangerous for your pet. If possible, the best thing would be to keep the pet in another room or to at least keep them by your chair while you eat. Here is a recipe for Pumpkin Dog Biscuits you can have on hand that are easy to make! Pumpkin Dog Biscuit Recipe

  10. Who got the wishbone?

    One of the most dangerous aspects of the Thanksgiving meal for pets are cooked turkey bones. Like cooked chicken bones, these small bones are easy for us to pick out of meat, but for pets they can seriously damage or puncture their digestive systems. Keep your pet out of the kitchen, especially after dinner when the table gets cleared. While all the leftovers might seem like paradise for your pet, it can could be very dangerous for them.

  11. Is there an emergency pet hospital?

    Hopefully you will have a very happy Thanksgiving with all of your friends and loved ones, but sometimes good preparation could make a tragic event into something to be thankful for. If you have a pet, chances are you know where the nearest pet hospital is. However, what if you are visiting relatives in a different city or state? The people you visit will know where the nearest hospital is, but if they don’t have pets they probably won’t know where a pet hospital is or if it is open on Thanksgiving. Make sure you call ahead when you travel to see what your options are, but hopefully you will never need it.

  12. Do you know pet CPR?

    We hope that you never have to use this last tip, but it is very important to know. CPR is a crucial skill to learn that can mean the difference between life and death, but pet CPR is something that many pet owners don’t even know. Thankfully, there was a recent update to the best practices for pet CPR done by the Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care. Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine but together a brief article on these new best practices, that goes through and details the new CPR process.

More Thanksgiving safety tips for your pets

Sage Advice

Sage can make your Thanksgiving stuffing taste delish, but it and many other herbs contain essential oils and resins that can cause gastrointestinal upset and central nervous system depression to pets if eaten in large quantities. Cats are especially sensitive to the effects of certain essential oils.

No Raw Bread Dough

Don’t spoil your pet’s holiday by giving him raw bread dough. According to ASPCA experts, when raw bread dough is ingested, an animal’s body heat causes the dough to rise in his stomach. As it expands, the pet may experience vomiting, severe abdominal pain and bloating, which could become a life-threatening emergency, requiring surgery.

Too Much of a Good Thing

A few small boneless pieces of cooked turkey, a taste of mashed potato or even a lick of pumpkin pie shouldn’t pose a problem. No cooked bones ever! However, don’t allow your pets to overindulge, as they could wind up with a case of stomach upset, diarrhea or even worse—an inflammatory condition of the pancreas known as pancreatitis. In fact, it’s best keep pets on their regular diets during the holidays.

A Feast Fit for a Kong

While the humans are chowing down, give your cat and dog their own little feast. Offer them a safe pet chew bone, or stuff their usual dinner—perhaps with a few added tidbits of turkey, vegetables (try sweet potato or green beans) and dribbles of gravy—inside a Kong toy. They’ll be happily occupied for awhile, working hard to extract their dinner from the toy.

Most of these tips are simple common sense, but with the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving they can be easy to overlook. However, if you follow these tips, you and your pet will be in for a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!


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