You may envision your family gathered around a large table when Thanksgiving is mentioned, but this holiday can pose dangers for your pet. Our team at Premier Pet Hospital wants to help you avoid a trip to the veterinary emergency room this Thanksgiving, by offering information about the threats your pet could face on the feastful day.

The big bird is a threat to your pet

Feeding a small skinless turkey piece to your pet likely will do no harm, but any change to your pet’s diet can result in gastrointestinal upset, including vomiting and diarrhea. Other factors to consider include:

  • The brine — Brining a turkey is a great way to add delicious flavor, but this can be problematic if your pet drinks the salty solution. The high sodium content can cause salt toxicity, resulting in vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, muscle tremors, and seizures.
  • The skin — Turkey skin, which is high in fat, can trigger pancreatitis. This condition can lead to life-threatening consequences for your pet.
  • The bones — Cooked turkey bones become extremely brittle and can splinter easily, damaging your pet’s mouth or esophagus.

The alcohol is a threat to your pet

Raising a glass of wine to toast the day is a common Thanksgiving day tradition, but pets are extremely sensitive to alcohol, and can be affected by a small amount. Signs include lethargy, incoordination, and vomiting. In severe cases, signs can progress to respiratory distress, seizures, coma, and death.

The sides are a threat to your pet

Most Thanksgiving sides are cooked lovingly, with lots of butter and cheese. These high-fat foods can precipitate a pancreatitis episode, plus certain ingredients can be toxic to your pet.

  • Alliums — Vegetables including onions, garlic, leeks, chives, and scallions contain thiosulphates, which damage your pet’s red blood cells, resulting in toxic anemia. Signs include lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, and pale mucous membranes.
  • Grapes — Grapes and raisins contain an unknown toxin that causes kidney failure in pets.
  • Yeast dough — When ingested, unbaked yeast dough can swell, causing your pet to bloat. In addition, as the yeast ferments, the alcohol produced can cause alcohol toxicity.

The desserts are a threat to your pet

Don’t let your food coma take over before you finish your dessert plate, in case your pet is waiting to take advantage of your nap. Many sweet treats can cause problems for your pet.

  • Chocolate — Dark chocolate and baking chocolate are the most dangerous, but all chocolate varieties are toxic to pets. Ingesting chocolate causes central nervous stimulation in pets, resulting in restlessness, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • Xylitol — Artificial sweeteners may cut back on calories, but xylitol causes an insulin release in pets, resulting in hypoglycemia. Signs include weakness, incoordination, and seizures.
  • Nuts — All nuts are high in fat and can trigger pancreatitis, but macadamia nuts are especially problematic for pets, causing depression, muscle weakness, and vomiting.

The decorations are a threat to your pet

Decorating your home for Thanksgiving helps make the day more festive, but certain decorations can be dangerous for your pet.

  • Small objects — Small decorations, such as pine cones and ribbons, can accidentally be swallowed, resulting in a gastrointestinal obstruction that requires surgical intervention.
  • Acorns — In addition to potentially forming a gastrointestinal blockage, acorns contain tannins, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and, in severe cases, kidney failure.
  • Floral decorations — Several common fall plants and flowers, including autumn crocuses, chrysanthemums, amaryllis, and lilies, are toxic to pets.
  • Candles — Scented candles create a nice ambience, but a misplaced tail or paw swipe can cause a fire.

The gathering is a threat to your pet

Your pet may be stressed and anxious when your guests start arriving for the Thanksgiving festivities. Take some precautions to ensure their safety.

  • Identification — Ensure your pet is wearing a collar and identification tags with your current contact information. Microchipping your pet is the best way to ensure they are returned home should they go missing, and this simple procedure can easily be performed at your pet’s next wellness visit.
  • Introduction — If possible, introduce your pet to each guest as they arrive, to avoid overwhelming them.
  • Quiet zone — Ensure your pet has a quiet area where they can escape, if the gathering becomes too much. 
  • Food puzzle toy — Offer your pet a food puzzle toy to keep them entertained and distracted from the hubbub and the tempting kitchen aromas.
  • Trash — Seal all trash containers, to prevent your pet from ingesting a toxic food or foreign object.

The travel is a threat to your pet

Traveling with your pet can be dangerous. Take a few precautions to ensure they stay safe.

  • Vehicles — When traveling by vehicle, ensure your pet is restrained in a carrier or by an appropriately fitted harness. Also, never leave your pet unattended in a parked vehicle, because they are extremely susceptible to heatstroke.
  • Planes — When traveling by plane, ensure your pet remains with you in the cabin, since traveling in the cargo hold is unpredictable.

By being aware of these potential threats, you can avoid taking your pet to the emergency room on Thanksgiving day. If you would like your pet microchipped before the holiday, contact our Premier Pet Hospital team, and schedule an appointment.