12 tips to keep your pet safe this Thanksgiving holiday

It’s that time of year again! Time to fire up the oven and get to eating some Thanksgiving turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, maybe a winter soup, and, of course, pumpkin pie! Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends, but it’s important not to forget your four-legged family members in all the excitement. Thanksgiving presents numerous safety hazards to cats and dogs – all it takes is turning your back for a second and catastrophe can strike. Check out our tips below to make sure that your furry friends have a happy Thanksgiving.

Pet safety in the kitchen:

1. Keep an eye on the turkey.

Meat is often irresistible to pets. No matter how they beg, do not let them eat any turkey bones or raw meat – raw poultry can cause salmonella poisoning in cats and dogs. If you’re going to give your pet a taste of some turkey, only give them small portions and only turkey that is fully cooked.

2. Make sure to keep the scraps away from your pets.

The turkey carcass is all-too-tempting, and you don’t want your buddy to eat any turkey bones, which could injure your pet’s digestive system. You also don’t want them to gorge on too much fatty food, which can upset their sensitive stomach. Don’t leave the turkey carcass or a partially carved turkey where your cat or dog can get to it – like on the kitchen table or in a trash can that your curious (and enterprising) pet can get to.

When you go to dispose of the turkey skeleton, put all of the bones and any packaging or strings that came with the bird into a secure trash bag. Then put the trash bag in an outdoor trash can or behind a closed door where your pet won’t be able to get to it. It’s important not to forget the strings and wrappings from the turkey because these smell super tasty to pets and could get eaten. Don’t underestimate your pet’s determination to get to something they think will be delicious – protecting your pet is a bit like childproofing your home.

3. Don’t let your pet have any bread dough.

The yeast in bread dough will turn the sugars into carbon dioxide and alcohol, which could cause severe bloating. This could become life-threatening to your dog or cat.

Keep an eye on your pets this Thanksgiving to make sure they don't sneak any food.

4. Keep your cat or dog away from the desserts.

Don’t let your pet nibble at the dessert or lick any of the batter. The batter probably contains raw eggs, and raw eggs can also cause salmonella poisoning. Many baked goods that are sugar-free use a sweetener called xylitol, which is toxic to cats and dogs. And, of course, chocolate is no good for cats or dogs.

5. Plan out a Thanksgiving feast of foods and treats meant especially for your cat or dog.

Too much people food can cause stomach problems or pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas.) No matter how much they beg or how impressive their puppy eyes are, don’t give them too much rich food.

If you want to treat your pet, hit the pet store and choose some treats that are meant for them. That way they can partake in the Thanksgiving festivities and you don’t have to worry about them eating something they shouldn’t, like onions, grapes, or raisins, which are all toxic to pets.


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6. Don’t waste any time if you think your cat or dog has been poisoned or eaten something they shouldn’t have.

The signs of poisoning in pets are behavioral changes, depression or lethargy, pain, throwing up, and diarrhea. If you think your pet has gotten into something they should not have eaten, call your vet’s office or the nearest 24-hour emergency animal clinic immediately. It’s a good idea to have both of those numbers programmed into your phone so you’re not scrambling to find them.

The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) animal poison control center hotline is 888-426-4435.

If you’re having guests:

7. Provide your pet with a safe place.

Plenty of cats and dogs get anxious when new, unfamiliar people come over. If your cat or dog is one of those and tends to get nervous or scared when there are a lot of loud, frightening humans around, set aside a quiet room for them. Fix it up with everything they’ll need and give them their favorite toy or comfort item. Basically, you’re turning this designated room into a cat or dog haven. It should be a room away from all the hustle and bustle where your pet can stay calm and take a nap.

8. Be mindful of potential great escapes.

When you have guests coming and going, the door is opening and closing a lot. Keep an eye on your cat or dog – it’s amazing how superb their ninja skills are and how adeptly they can sneak past people to get outside. Make sure your four-legged companions stay safe and sound inside where they belong. Ask your guests to please be mindful of them, too, and to watch for them when they come in and leave. If your pet is really set on seeing the great outdoors and bolts for the door the second it opens, you might want to put them in a separate room while your guests are arriving and leaving.

Be mindful of your pets and keep them comfortable if you have Thanksgiving guests.

9. Make sure your buddy has an ID tag.

Keep your pet’s collar on and make sure they have a tag with your current contact information on it. You can also talk to your vet about microchipping your pet to maximize the chance of them being returned to you if they get lost if they do manage a Houdini-esque great escape.

10. Watch your decorations.

Some flowers and plants, such as hydrangeas, amaryllis, baby’s breath, and ferns, are toxic to cats and dogs. If you choose to use plants to decorate your home for the holidays, choose plants that aren’t toxic to pets. To find out what plants you should avoid because they’re toxic to cats and dogs, you can check out the ASPCA’s list.

11. Skip the candles.

Another thing to be wary of with your decorations is candles. Don’t leave your cat or dog alone with a lit candle. They could hurt themselves or knock it over and burn the house down. Since you probably don’t want to have to file a fire claim on your home insurance, either skip the candles or watch your pets very carefully.

12. Supervise your pets around kids.

If your pets are going to be roaming around with your guests, make sure to keep an eye on them. Kids may not understand how to approach or pet your cat or dog properly, so make sure everyone is happy if your pet is getting attention from your younger guests. You don’t want anyone to get snapped at (and, side note, certain dog breeds have an impact on your home insurance rate for that very reason.)

Pets are very sneaky, so watch them carefully this Thanksgiving.

The holidays – and turkey day – are meant to be a special time for everyone in your family. Don’t forget to be mindful of your pets even during the hullaballoo that comes along with preparing Thanksgiving dinner and hosting guests. Take care of your four-legged buddies and remember: constant vigilance.


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