It’s almost Thanksgiving, and for pet owners that means in addition to thinking about how we’ll handle our own excesses over the holiday we need to be aware of how our pets will deal with it, too. This can be a really hectic time, with more people in the house than usual, so it’s important to think about this stuff beforehand – that way you don’t end up cleaning up unexpected messes or emergency trips to the vet when you’d rather be sleeping off your oversized meal in front of the big-screen TV!
Here are some tips to make sure your Thanksgiving is pet safe.
1. Be careful about any turkey you give your pet
If you decide to give your pet a little bit of the big ol’ bird, make sure it is completely cooked and has no bones. Do not offer raw or undercooked turkey, which may contain salmonella. If your pet is on a diet or has food allergies, avoid giving any “people” food to him and keep him on his regular feeding schedule.
2. Know what’s not safe for your pet to eat
Just because it’s okay for you to eat doesn’t mean it’s okay for your pet. For instance, onions, garlic, sage, and grapes aren’t good for pets; uncooked bread dough can expand in the stomach and cause abdominal pain; and things like corn and bread are difficult for them to digest. Ask your vet for lists of what foods your pet can and can’t have, and when in doubt – don’t let them have it. If you feel bad about depriving them of a treat, have extra pet-friendly treats on hand.
3. Avoid giving out bones to your pet
Turkey bones may seem like the ideal dog treats, but those bones can break easily, which means they could be a choking hazard or even cause internal damage by cutting your pet’s stomach or intestines.
4. Take out the trash frequently
Determined pets can – and will – go digging through the trash to get hold of those yummy-tasting scraps, especially if you’re being careful about not giving them any. Take the trash out on a regular basis throughout the day, and make your in-kitchen garbage can difficult for them to access or get into.
5. Keep candles and pets away from each other
We often light candles at the Thanksgiving table, which may be one of only a few times each year that we have candles going. Pets are excited enough about all the heady food smells and extra company, so they’re even less likely to notice if (for example) their tail catches fire when they brush by a lit candle. Make sure you’ve extinguished candles when you’re leaving the table, and don’t leave lit candles unattended.
6. Be conscious of the issues when mixing guests with pets
Not everyone loves animals as much as we do, and some of your guests may not want to have a dog or cat roaming around the dining room during the Thanksgiving meal. Not only that, even if your pet isn’t a beggar, that won’t stop your cousin’s youngest kid from handing out scraps under the table (which may include things that are unsafe for your pet to eat). It’s probably best for everyone if pets are kept out of the dining room during the meal.
7. Consider keeping your pet in a separate part of the house for the whole day
It may not be enough to just keep your pet in another room during the meal – you might want to do that for the whole day. Your pets are likely to be more excitable during the holidays, so even if you’ve usually got an exceptionally well-behaved dog or cat he or she may not obey commands once the house is full of new people. If you can sequester your pet in another part of the house during the busy part of the day, that might be a good idea – especially if your pet tends to get stressed out with too much change. You might consider boarding your pet for the day, too – you’ll know what’s best for your pet.
8. Make sure your pet has proper identification
It may sound strange, but remember that anytime you’ve got a house full of guests that means the door is being opened numerous times – including times when you’re not paying attention. If your pet isn’t locked in a different part of the house when Uncle Carl steps outside to get something from the car (leaving the door open because it’s “just going to be a second”), you may not notice he or she is missing until much later. Making sure your pet has ID tags and is microchipped means a better chance you’ll get reunited quickly.
9. Have extra treats on hand for your pets
You’ll be focused on making sure you and your guests have a good time, but don’t forget your pets! Have some special pet-friendly treats on hand to let them know it’s a special day for them, too – dole them out throughout the day, or as a reward for good behavior at the end of a hectic Thanksgiving.