Ah, Thanksgiving. Friends and family have arrived for the holiday, the turkey is roasting and timed around a favorite football game (or two), the table resembles a groaning board and you are ready for those Norman Rockwell moments to begin. Or are you? Oh sure, mishaps keep life interesting and provide stories for years to come, but before the day has a chance to head south, be sure you know how to keep your pets safe. While you may not be able to control Uncle George’s “back in my day” stories or Aunt Helen’s relentless questions about having children other than the four-legged variety, you can celebrate Thanksgiving with your pets and keep them protected; thereby eliminating any future pet fodder at holiday tables. (Sorry, we can’t guarantee the same for Uncle George.)
Let’s gobble to it and share some things to keep in mind this Thanksgiving to keep your pets healthy and safe.
- Talkin’ turkey
The centerpiece of the meal is, of course, the turkey. Your pet is probably like you and has been eyeing the roasting bird for hours while salivating over the delicious smells wafting through the house. Your pup may look at you with eyes of anticipation and, frankly, expectation, but is it OK to share? The good news is that you can give him a taste if the turkey is well cooked, skinless and boneless. Don’t overdo it though because the bad news is that even small amounts of turkey can cause a life-threatening condition called pancreatitis in pets. Instead of actual turkey, buy a treat or food made just for them.
- The sides have it
Stuffing, potatoes and rolls, oh my! While the consequences of you gorging on these delights may be a nap, it’s much different for your pet. Animals have a hard time digesting fatty foods and ingredients in those items. Plus, other foods you may be serving can be poisonous to pets, so it’s best to keep your feast on the table and out of their food bowls.
- You want a piece of me?
If we’re honest, no one really needs dessert. While that statement may be controversial for humans, it isn’t for pets. Some ingredients, such as chocolate and the artificial sweetener xylitol—commonly used in gum and sugar-free baked goods—can be deadly for cats and dogs. More pie for you!
- Bin there, dump that
This seems obvious but be sure all garbage is secured and inaccessible at all times. You know pets are mischievous creatures who can sniff out any remnants, including bones, from a mile away. Chances are the trash will also contain things that are dangerous for pets to consume, such as onions, raisins and grapes. So, while you’re relaxing and recapping the day or even if you’re in and out of the kitchen, make sure the trash is tied up and out of the paw zone.
- Ready, set, tablescape
Table settings and holiday decorations are just as important as the meal for Martha Stewart wannabes. As you implement your vision, remember that certain types of flowers and plants—such as amaryllis, ferns, hydrangeas—are toxic to pets, so make sure arrangements and other decorations are out of paw’s reach.
- Rules of the house
Before that holiday giving spirit extends to guests sharing nibbles with your pet, make sure everyone knows what is and isn’t OK to share. It’s a good idea to provide your guests with treats just for your pets in case it’s impossible for them to resist the inevitable soulful, pleading stares of the furry residents.
Also, remember holidays can be stressful on pets, too, and they may need a break from the festivities. Make sure pets have a quiet, safe space, away from the celebration.
- Guests come, guests go
Even if hellos and goodbyes aren’t long and lingering, your pet can dart out of doors in a flash—and you may not even notice. Be sure your pet’s tags and microchip ID are up to date in case he manages to make a run for it; doing so will give you the best chance of being reunited with your furry friend.
With a bit of forethought before you paws to give thanks, you can have a fun and safe Thanksgiving for all guests, including those with fur. We wish you all the joys of the season.