Thanksgiving is a time when friends and family gather around a meal to reflect on gratitude—including being grateful that you snagged a seat on the opposite side of the table from your eccentric uncle who loves talking politics. Your pet may not appreciate that they do not have a place at the table, given all the excitement—the sudden influx of delicious smells, new people, and constant banter—but if they understood that you were protecting them from all the holiday hazards, they would be grateful. Of course, that doesn’t mean they won’t take advantage of an unattended plate with all the fixings, or get into other troubles, because potential pet dangers extend far beyond food. Thanksgiving celebrations provide a cornucopia of problems for pets, but keeping your pet safe can be as easy as pie with these four tips from our Little Animal Hospital team. 

Tip #1: Stuff yourselfnot your pet

While not the only dangerous Thanksgiving tradition for your pet, food is the most common culprit for causing holiday pet emergencies. No matter how much your pet begs, you should never give in with the following foods:

  • Turkey bones — Cooked turkey bones tend to break and splinter easily, and the sharp pieces can injure your pet’s mouth or esophagus or cause them to choke. 
  • Onion, garlic, leeks, and chives — These vegetables and herbs, which are often used to add flavor to Thanksgiving side dishes, can cause gastrointestinal issues and weaken your pet’s red blood cells, resulting in anemia.
  • Corn cobs — While corn is not toxic to pets, corn cobs are indigestible and won’t break down in your pet’s stomach, leading to a dangerous obstruction. Small pieces may only partially obstruct and eventually pass on their own, but a large piece of the cob usually requires surgical removal.
  • Sugar-free desserts — Xylitol is a sugar substitute often found in sugar-free food items that is extremely toxic to dogs. Ingestion of foods containing xylitol can cause their blood sugar to drop rapidly to a dangerous level and may progress to liver failure.
  • Alcohol — Festive libations are popular on holidays, but a pet who laps up a spilled or unattended alcoholic beverage can develop low blood pressure, body temperature, and blood sugar, and require emergency treatment.
  • Unbaked yeast dough — Ingested raw yeast dough can rise in your pet’s warm stomach and release carbon dioxide, which can accumulate and cause your pet’s stomach to bloat and possibly twist, which is a life-threatening emergency. The fermenting yeast dough also releases alcohol into your pet’s bloodstream, causing alcohol toxicity.

Ensure your guests are also familiar with foods toxic to pets and ask them to refrain from sharing with your pet. Also, keep all food out of your pet’s reach and clean dropped morsels from the floor.  

Tip #2: Keep your pet from turkey trotting out the door

While you’re distracted with greeting or saying farewell to guests, your pet can easily slip through an open door and become lost. Avoid this possibility by blocking your pet’s access to the front door with a baby gate or designating a family member to keep your pet leashed. Ensure your pet’s identification—including their microchip and collar tags—includes current information, to increase your chances of a reunion should they manage to sneak out. 

Tip #3: Don’t let your pet gobble up the centerpiece

Thanksgiving floral centerpieces look beautiful, but some fall flowers can be harmful if your pet nibbles on them. They include:

  •  Autumn crocuses — The autumn crocus is highly toxic and can cause severe vomiting, gastrointestinal bleeding, and liver and kidney damage in pets. 
  • Lilies — Many lily types are extremely toxic for cats, because they contain a toxin that can cause severe renal damage and kidney failure. Only a small amount can cause severe damage. The whole plant—not only the flowers—and even the vase water is toxic to pets.
  • Chrysanthemums — These bright blooms contain pyrethrins and other potential irritants that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling, and lack of coordination in pets. 

Before choosing your Thanksgiving floral arrangement, research which plants are safe for your pet using this searchable poisonous plant list.

Tip #4: Restrain your pet on your holiday road trip

If you and your pet will be driving to your Thanksgiving destination, keep your pet securely restrained in a crate or harness that safely attaches to the seat. Never allow your pet to freely roam in the car, because they could be injured if you stop quickly or are involved in an accident. In addition, unrestrained pets can distract the driver and potentially cause an accident.

We hope you enjoy a happy and safe Thanksgiving with the special people and pets in your life. Contact our team at Little Animal Hospital to schedule your pet’s next wellness exam, including being microchipped, if necessary, and head into the holiday season with a healthy pet.