Thanksgiving is a wonderful time when we count our blessings and enjoy the company of family and friends over good food. Your pet likely wants to get in on the holiday-feast action; however, many pet hazards can potentially spoil your Thanksgiving dinner. Follow these five safety tips from the Leawood Plaza Animal Hospital team to keep your four-legged friend out of trouble this Thanksgiving. 

#1: Prevent your pet from getting into the trash

After Thanksgiving, your trash can will be full of spoiling leftovers that may tempt your pet to steal a bite. However, many of these foods can cause serious gastrointestinal (GI) upset, such as vomiting and diarrhea, in your pet. Plus, they may dig out turkey bones, skin, and fat, which can lead to an obstruction or pancreatitis, which will both require emergency treatment. No matter what foods are left over after Thanksgiving, keep a tight lid on your trash can to prevent your pet from dumpster diving.

#2: Keep your pet away from holiday decor

Holiday decorations can prompt a curious pet to investigate with their paws or mouth, but that can be dangerous in the case of lit candles, seasonal plants, autumn vegetables, and other festive decor, and can lead to a fire, plant toxicity, mold toxicity, or a GI upset or obstruction. Knocked-over candles can burn your pet or cause a fire. Pumpkins, squash, gourds, and corn stalks can rot and mold, which can be toxic if ingested, and the stems, seeds, and cobs can lodge in the intestinal tract. If your pet is too nosy for their own good, ensure you keep holiday decorations out of paws’ reach.

#3: Avoid sharing your Thanksgiving feast with your pet

Your pet likely agrees that one of the best parts of Thanksgiving is the feast overloading your table. However, many of those savory dishes are unsafe for your furry pal, and can lead to pancreatitis, GI upset, toxicity, or an obstruction. A few of the most common Thanksgiving food hazards to keep away from your pet include:

  • Turkey — The star of the Thanksgiving show is perhaps one of the most dangerous foods for your pet. Bones can obstruct or perforate their intestines, while the skin and fat can lead to life-threatening pancreatitis. If you can’t resist sharing your holiday feast, offer your pet only a small bite of skinless, boneless, unseasoned turkey breast.
  • Onions, garlic, and chives — These vegetables may spice up your dishes, but they can damage your pet’s red blood cells and cause anemia. Whether they’re raw, powdered, or cooked, keep garlic, onions, and chives away from your pet.
  • Butter, oil, and fat — Thanksgiving is all about rich, savory, comfort foods that often are high in fat. Pets do not metabolize fat well, and can develop severe abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea from pancreatitis if they consume fatty foods.
  • Raw yeast dough — Avoid leaving your bread dough to rise unattended, as the uncooked yeast can be deadly for pets. Once eaten, the dough’s fermenting yeast releases gas into the stomach, causing bloat, and potentially gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV), an emergency situation. The yeast can also release alcohol into your pet’s bloodstream and cause alcohol poisoning.
  • Pie and desserts — Chocolate and xylitol are two common sweets found on dessert tables that lead to toxicity in pets. Theobromine poisoning from chocolate can cause hyperactivity, vomiting, and diarrhea, and severe cases may result in seizures and sometimes death. Xylitol, a popular sugar substitute, can cause your pet’s blood sugar to drop, which can lead to liver failure and death in dogs. 

#4: Keep your pet out of the kitchen

While having an extra set of hands in the kitchen is nice, pairs of paws spell trouble. Lured by the tantalizing aromas, your furry pal likely will wander into the kitchen for a sniff and maybe a bite a two, but their four paws underfoot, or on counters and stove tops, can be dangerous. Plus, while you are busy in the kitchen, your pet can sneak into the trash can, snatch a bite of something toxic to pets from the counter, or gulp down food dropped on the floor.

#5: Monitor your pet’s comfort level in large gatherings

Many pets are not social butterflies and become nervous when large groups of family and friends visit. If your house is packed full of guests for your Thanksgiving celebration, monitor your pet’s body language for anxiety signals, such as a tucked tail, furrowed brow, tight facial features, or hard stares. At the first hint of discomfort—or before—confine your pet to a quiet, special haven. Provide them with a stuffed Kong or other long-lasting treat, a cozy bed, and calming music so that the holiday is a positive experience for your furry pal. 

Does your pet panic at the sight of strangers in your home? If so, schedule a behavior consultation with your Leawood Plaza Animal Hospital veterinarian prior to Thanksgiving to ensure an enjoyable celebration for all your family members. And, if your four-legged friend gets into mischief over the Thanksgiving festivities, our team is here to help.