The holidays are a special time to spend with friends and family, but Thanksgiving-related incidents can lead to a veterinary emergency if you don’t take precautions. Our Village Veterinary Hospital team wants to help by offering do’s and don’ts to help keep your four-legged friend safe on turkey day.
DO properly identify your pet
Whether you will be spending Thanksgiving at home or traveling, ensuring your pet is properly identified will help you be reunited should they go missing during the holiday celebrations. Tips include:
- Tagging your pet — Ensure your pet’s collar fits well and their tags have your current contact information.
- Microchipping your pet — If your pet isn’t microchipped, contact our team and let us provide permanent identification that can’t be lost or removed. If your pet is already microchipped, ensure your contact information in the microchip registry is current.
- Taking your pet’s photograph — Take a recent picture of your pet that you can post in your neighborhood should they go missing.
DON’T let your pet gobble the turkey
The turkey is the Thanksgiving table centerpiece, but the big bird poses many dangers for your pet, including:
- Salt toxicity — The tantalizing turkey brine has an extremely high salt content that can cause salt toxicity if your pet ingests too much.
- Pancreatitis — Turkey skin and dark turkey meat are high in fat, which can lead to a life-threatening condition called pancreatitis.
- Gastrointestinal (GI) injury — Cooked turkey bones splinter easily, and can damage your pet’s mouth or GI tract.
- GI obstruction — Butcher’s twine used to truss a turkey can seem appetizing to your pet, but if ingested, the string can become a linear GI obstruction and lead to intestinal perforation.
DO prevent your pet from imbibing alcohol
Most people don’t intentionally offer their pet alcohol, but pets may find ways to imbibe, which can be dangerous, since pets are extremely susceptible to alcohol. Considerations include:
- Unattended cups — Your guests may unintentionally leave their cup unattended and give your pet an opportunity to drink alcohol. Ask your guests to set their cup out of your pet’s reach and to discard any unwanted beverage.
- Unbaked yeast dough — If your pet ingests unbaked yeast dough, the fermentation process can cause alcohol poisoning. In addition, as the dough expands, your pet can experience dangerous bloating.
- Flavorings — Vanilla and almond flavorings also contain alcohol, so keep these ingredients out of your pet’s reach.
DON’T let your pet near the dessert table
Several sweet ingredients are dangerous for pets, so ensure they don’t have access to the dessert table. Problematic sweets include:
- Chocolate — Chocolate in all forms is toxic to pets, but dark chocolate and cocoa powder are especially dangerous. The chocolate’s caffeine and theobromine cause signs such as agitation, excessive panting, increased heart rate and, in severe cases, seizure.
- Xylitol — Xylitol, which is an ingredient in many sugar-free desserts, causes a dose dependent insulin release in pets that can lead to severe hypoglycemia.
- Grapes — Grapes, raisins, and currants contain a toxin that can cause severe kidney failure in pets.
- Macadamia nuts — Macadamia nut ingestion can lead to muscle weakness, depression, vomiting, and hyperthermia in pets.
DO keep your pet stress free
Thanksgiving celebrations often mean visitors, noise, and increased activity in your home, which can be stressful for pets, and you should take steps to reduce their stress level. Steps include:
- Making a pet-safe area — Ensure your pet has an escape area where they feel safe if they become overwhelmed. Consider confining your pet to a quiet room or their crate if they typically are shy or excitable around new people or in crowds.
- Monitoring interactions with children — Young children may be excited about playing with your pet, but your pet may not be so thrilled. Monitor interactions between your pet and children to ensure your pet isn’t stressed and to prevent potential injuries.
- Seeking veterinary help — If your pet has known anxiety issues, consult our veterinary team to determine if an anti-anxiety medication or supplement could help reduce your pet’s emotional stress.
DON’T decorate using pet toxic plants
Many seasonal plants commonly used to decorate for Thanksgiving are toxic to pets, so ensure that any plants you bring in your home are pet-safe before decorating. Problematic plants include:
- Lilies — True lilies, which include the Tiger, Stargazer, Easter, and Oriental varieties, and daylilies are highly toxic to cats. Every plant part, including the water used to hydrate the plant, is toxic if ingested, causing severe kidney injury.
- Autumn crocuses — Autumn crocuses are extremely dangerous for pets, and can cause severe vomiting, GI bleeding, respiratory failure, and liver and kidney damage.
- Chrysanthemums — All plants in the chrysanthemum family are toxic to pets. They contain irritating and dangerous compounds that cause vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling, and incoordination.
DO travel safely with your pet
If you will be traveling for your Thanksgiving celebrations, ensure your pet remains safe by taking the following steps:
- Securing your pet — Ensure your pet is properly restrained in your vehicle. Small pets should be placed in a carrier in a secure area, preferably on the vehicle floor behind the passenger seat. Larger pets can be confined to the rear cargo area using a pet barrier, or restrained using a pet safety harness.
- Locating veterinary care — Research veterinary emergency and urgent care practices along your travel route and at your final destination in case your pet needs veterinary care during your trip.
These do’s and don’ts should help keep your pet safe on turkey day and prevent a veterinary emergency. If you would like your pet microchipped before the Thanksgiving feast, contact our Village Veterinary Hospital and allow us to provide proper identification to help ensure you can be reunited with your pet should they go missing.
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