As tantalizing aromas waft out of the kitchen, your mouth waters, and you feel a wet spot on your knee. You look down, only to see your sad-eyed pooch staring beseechingly, a string of drool connecting their jowls to your knee. You know your pet is eagerly looking forward to the Thanksgiving feast, but you also know that many toxic foods line the table. However, you hate to exclude your four-legged friend from the holiday, so follow The Gentle Vet team’s tips and help your pet safely enjoy all parts of Thanksgiving, from food to family.

#1: Watch for food toxicity signs in your pet

While you know that the turkey leg is not on your furry pal’s menu, you may not realize the other popular Thanksgiving dishes that can harm your pet or the problems they might cause. Your sly and sneaky pet may steal a few bites of a toxic food from the kitchen counter, under the table, or from the trash can.

Be on the lookout for pet teeth marks in the following foods, which can cause health issues in your pet:

  • Turkey and ham — These two meaty dishes are sure to attract your pet but must not be shared. High in fat, salt, and seasonings—not to mention bacteria, if the meat is raw—turkey and ham can pose numerous threats to your furry pal. Excessive dietary fat can trigger a life-threatening case of pancreatitis, while gnawing a bone can result in a gastrointestinal (GI) blockage or perforation in your pet.
  • Stuffing — Loaded with garlic, onion, and chives, stuffing is a toxic tragedy waiting to happen. While small amounts of Allium family veggies and herbs are generally OK, large amounts can damage red blood cells. 
  • Mashed potatoes and candied yams — Rich side dishes are often chock-full of butter, fat, and other inflammatory ingredients, and can upset your pet’s stomach or cause pancreatitis.
  • Corn on the cob — Removing the kernels from a corncob is a healthy side dish for your pet, but the cob itself can become a GI obstruction.
  • Yeast rolls — Unbaked yeast dough can harm your pet in two ways—alcohol poisoning and stomach bloat or obstruction. The fermenting dough expands in your pet’s warm stomach and releases alcohol and carbon dioxide gasses, and the swelling can be large enough to cause a blockage.
  • Desserts — Sweet treats baked with the sweetener xylitol or loaded with chocolate can cause severe illness in your pet. While cats are not generally drawn to sweet foods, they are still at risk for toxicity. If your pet eats enough sugar-free cookies or chocolate cake, they can develop hypoglycemia, liver failure, vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, or seizures.

#2: Set boundaries with guests

Well-meaning guests may want to spoil your pet with bites from their Thanksgiving feast, but instruct them that all table scraps are off-limits. You may know that your pet can safely have a bite of skinless, boneless turkey breast, but your guest may not know the difference between safe and unsafe foods.

Also, instruct your guests about personal space boundaries when they interact with your pet. If your four-legged friend is more aloof or shy and requires several hands-off visits before you earn their trust, ask guests to leave your pet alone unless they approach. Never allow guests to corner your cat or dog to pet or play with them, and always supervise any pet-child interactions, especially if your pet is unaccustomed to children.

#3: Stick to your pet’s normal routine

Although the holidays are a wonderful time to share with loved ones, all the decorating, cooking, and celebrating can be incredibly stressful for you and your pet. No matter how relaxed your pet appears, they may still be sending subtle stress signals because of all the commotion. Skittish behavior, hiding, restless pacing, and excessive panting are clues that your pet is stressed, so provide stability by sticking to their regular routine as much as possible. Ensure mealtimes, playtimes, and bedtimes are consistent and that your pet has a quiet place away from the holiday hubbub where they can relax. Also, you may be tempted to forgo your dog’s daily run—especially after a third helping of sweet potato casserole—but you’ll both feel better after some exercise.

With a little advance planning, you can spend your Thanksgiving focusing on friends, family, and the feast—not four-legged fiascos. Keep your pet safe and sound this holiday season by ensuring they are up to date on preventive care and are microchipped. Give The Gentle Vet team a call to schedule your pet’s appointment.