Dog with carrot.

Thanksgiving holiday is centered around food and family—two- and four-legged members alike. While including your furry family members in the feast is tempting, many aspects of Thanksgiving can put pets in danger—sorry, the turkey leg is off limits for Fido. When celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday, be thankful for your pet, and ensure they remain happy and healthy with the following safety tips.

Dangerous decor: Thanksgiving home hazards for your pet

Thanksgiving decor, like squash, gourds, and cornstalks are not toxic to pets, but can be harmful if consumed. Spoiled vegetables used as front porch decor can cause gastrointestinal upset, while corncobs can create an obstruction if swallowed. Decorative centerpieces that contain fall-scented candles can also be hazardous, especially if your curious pet knocks them over, or gets too close to the flame.

Stranger danger: Thanksgiving visitor risks for your pet

With family and friends coming over for your Thanksgiving feast, your front door will likely be opened many times, without close supervision, allowing your furry pal to slip out unnoticed. During your guests’ hellos and good-byes, ensure your pet is confined to a bedroom, or behind a baby gate, so they cannot rush out the door and perhaps become lost. 

Your guests, especially those staying overnight, no doubt will bring their coats, purses, and suitcases. These can contain hazardous items, like sugar-free gum and candies, chocolate, and prescription medications that your guests may not think to put out of your pet’s reach. So, ask your guests to keep these belongings behind closed doors, fully zipped, and off the floor.

Toxic tastes: Thanksgiving food dangers for your pet

The most delicious, yet dangerous, part of Thanksgiving for pets is the full spread that graces your table. From the kitchen to your trash can, and everywhere in between, the holiday’s highlight poses the biggest threat to your pet’s health. Common Thanksgiving dishes are full of ingredients that are toxic to pets, or can cause digestive upset, so remind your guests to keep their food above the table, and not to slip your pet snacks. 

Dangerous holiday foods to keep away from your pet include:

  • Turkey — Although your pet may be eyeing the main dish’s juicy drumstick, a turkey leg can cause vomiting, diarrhea, pancreatitis, or a gastrointestinal obstruction. Plus, the cooked bones can be brittle, splinter when chewed, and pierce your pet’s mouth and digestive tract.
  • Foods high in fat — Buttery mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, and other rich side dishes may not be toxic, but the high fat content can seriously upset your pet’s stomach, and potentially trigger a case of life-threatening pancreatitis.
  • Garlic, onion, leeks, and chives — These additions to many dishes are toxic to pets, since ingesting vegetables from the Allium family can cause red blood cell destruction and anemia.
  • Unbaked yeast dough — Unbaked yeast dough can ferment inside your pet’s stomach, and also cause alcohol poisoning or bloat, two potentially life-threatening conditions.
  • Desserts — Although you likely know that chocolate is toxic for pets, you may be unaware that raisins, currants, and xylitol are also dangerous. Never feed pets treats that contain these dried fruits or sugar substitute, since only a small amount can lead to kidney failure, liver failure, or a severe drop in blood sugar.

Not only should you never give your pet any toxic foods, but you should also block their access to the trash can. Fat-covered aluminum foil, twine used to tie up the turkey, and spoiled leftovers can cause as much trouble as the foods on the table, so keep your trash can secure, or out of your pet’s reach.

Safe snacks: Approved Thanksgiving foods for your pet

While the list of foods to avoid may seem overwhelming, your pet can enjoy some great pet-friendly Thanksgiving treats. Raw fruits and vegetables, like baby carrots, green beans, apples, chunks of sweet potato, or pumpkin puree—not the sweetened, spiced pie filling—are delicious, pet-safe snacks. You can also slip your furry pal a bite or two of unseasoned, skinless, boneless turkey breast, for an extra special treat. To make your pet’s Thanksgiving feast last longer and more enjoyable, use a food puzzle, like a rubber Kong stuffed full of their favorite fillings.

Thanksgiving is a time to focus on your blessings, which should include your pet and their good health. However, if your four-legged friend runs “a-fowl” of a turkey-related hazard this holiday season, contact our Bayside Animal Hospital team for help.