Thanksgiving Day is a joyous and relaxing holiday for most humans, but for pets, Thanksgiving can pose some very real dangers. Holiday hazards are everywhere during Thanksgiving and many of those hazards will remain in place throughout the holiday season.
So to avoid a pet injury or illness on Thanksgiving, consider the following tips, designed to help pet owners reduce the number of holiday pet hazards and dangers.
Tip 1: Keep Bones Out of a Dog or Cat's Reach
Thanksgiving dinner will create a lot of rubbish in the form of bones from the turkey. These bones can be very tempting to a cat or dog, and it's not uncommon for a pet to raid the trash can when no one's looking to snag a leftover bone. And with the Thanksgiving guests present, a pet owner may not realize that their dog has wandered off to eat a potentially deadly snack. A dog or cat who eats a bone can suffer an intestinal obstruction, punctures and tears to the intestinal tract and potentially deadly internal bleeding.
To avoid this danger, keep all bones in a sealed plastic container. Then, dispose of the bones in a sealed outdoor trashcan. If a dog or cat can access outdoor trash cans, instead place the container with the bones in the freezer and place the bones curbside on trash collection day.
Tip 2: Keep Dogs and Cats Out of the Kitchen on Thanksgiving Day
Thanksgiving Day can be hectic for the cook and it's not uncommon for family members and friends to join in the meal preparation effort. This can make the kitchen crowded and busy on Thanksgiving Day. Adding a pet to the equation can be a recipe for disaster.
A cat or dog could easily get under foot while busy cooks are bustling about on Thanksgiving Day. This could cause a cook to trip and fall over a dog or cat, and if the person is carrying a food item - especially a hot food item - this could lead to burns or cuts from broken glass. The person may also fall and land on the cat or dog, causing broken bones and internal injuries to the pet. So to avoid injuries to a pet on Thanksgiving, keep cats and dogs out of the kitchen.
Tip 3: Confine Cats and Dogs When Thanksgiving Guests Arrive
Some dogs and cats are very social, while others don't appreciate visits to the home from strangers. Many cats and dogs find Thanksgiving Day guests overwhelming and frightening. Combine this fright with a guest's attempt to pet the nervous cat or dog and this is a recipe for a dog bite, cat bite or cat scratch.
Children who are visiting the home on Thanksgiving Day may also pose a danger to cats, dogs and other pets. A child who is not accustomed to handling a cat or dog may act inappropriately, injuring the pet, while the child's parent is off tending to Thanksgiving Dinner or socializing. The child may also inadvertently provoke the dog or cat, leading to a dog bite or other unfortunate situation.
So to avoid injury to the pet and to guests, supervise all interactions with the household pets. When this is not possible, it's best to confine the cat or dog to a kennel or spare bedroom on Thanksgiving Day.
Tip 4: Thanksgiving Dinner for Dogs and Cats
Many dog and cat owners feel the urge to share their delicious Thanksgiving meal with pets. And this is usually permissible, but in moderation. Most of the foods served at Thanksgiving dinner are safe for pets, though pet owners should always double-check a list of toxic food items just to make sure. Fat trimmings and very fatty foods should always be avoided as this can trigger pancreatitis in dogs and cats.
The key to giving a bit of Thanksgiving dinner to the dog or cat is to give just a bit - moderation. Large amounts of unfamiliar foods will cause nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea in pets. Instead, offer a small amount of turkey and stuffing with the cat or dog's normal dog or cat food. If a pet owner feels tempted to give their dog or cat a large amount of Thanksgiving dinner, resist the urge and hold some of the food aside for the following day's meal. The dog or cat can then enjoy Thanksgiving foods over the course of two or three meals, instead of just one, since the cat or dog's Thanksgiving dinner will be presented in a way that his body can tolerate.
Tip 5: Keep the Emergency Vet and Pet Poison Control Numbers Handy
The holiday season is a common time for illness and injuries in pets. Always keep the number and address of the nearest 24-hour veterinary clinic handy, along with the number to the ASPCA's Pet Poison Control Center (888-426-4435) - just in case.
Visit the Pet Poisoning Resources Page for more information on what foods, plants and other items are toxic to dogs and cats.