Thanksgiving Safety for Your Pets

Thanksgiving is a time filled with family, gratitude, and really good food. While most of these things can coexist with our pets safely, there are some elements of this American holiday that can pose a risk for our furry friends. In this blog, we’ll cover some basic best practices to ensure your pet has a healthy and happy Thanksgiving alongside you. 

When it comes to your pet and Thanksgiving, there are certain traditions that don’t make for a relaxing holiday. Make sure your four-legged family member skips the stuffing, yeast rolls, and any desserts with xylitol, as they can be toxic for pets. With all of the holiday chaos, be sure your pet has a sweet escape so they don’t become overwhelmed. Lastly, check airlines or boarding facilities for vaccines your pet should have before traveling.

Toxic Thanksgiving Foods for Dogs and Cats

Despite the many joys of Thanksgiving, most people would agree that it’s the delicious meal we look forward to. Whether you and your family celebrate with a traditional Thanksgiving meal, something allergen or lifestyle-friendly, or choose a different theme altogether, it’s a day filled with scrumptious dishes and lots of leftovers.

However, not all of the food we enjoy on Thanksgiving is safe for our pets. There are several dishes and ingredients that can be potentially toxic to your dog or cat, including:

  • Stuffing
  • Yeast Rolls
  • Xylitol

Thanksgiving Stuffing

Thanksgiving stuffing is a combination of bread, onions, garlic, herbs, and spices. Maybe you get more adventurous with your stuffing recipe and include raisins or currants. Unfortunately, some of the ingredients prove to be less than delightful for our pets. 

Are onions and garlic bad for cats and dogs? In small quantities, these vegetables can’t do much harm. However, in larger quantities, both of these vegetables contain toxins that can damage your pet’s red blood cells, causing hemolytic anemia in extreme situations.

Raisins and currants are very toxic to your dog’s kidneys, no matter how small the quantity. These foods have been directly linked to sudden kidney failure in dogs, so be sure to keep the stuffing on the table and away from those convincing puppy eyes or persuasive kitten purrs.

Thanksgiving Yeast Rolls

Yeast makes a lot of delicious human treats possible, but if your pet sneaks too many yeast rolls from your Thanksgiving table, it could lead to some serious consequences. Yeast has a habit of reacting to starch which produces carbon dioxide and alcohol. This reaction makes the yeast grow, causing the stomach and gut to expand. This puts pressure on the intestines resulting in a bloat, which can escalate to something fatal in rare cases.

If you catch your pet sneaking yeast dough while it’s trying to rise on the counter, or stealing some rolls that fall from the table, prepare to take them to your nearest emergency vet clinic right away. Until you can get them there, you can give them ice water to drink to slow down the fermentation process that could be occurring in their stomach.

Healthy Thanksgiving Desserts

In a recent trend to avoid processed sugar, many are turning to natural sweetener alternatives. One of the more popular ones has been xylitol, a plant-based sweetener. While xylitol provides a healthier alternative to your favorite cake or pie, it means a trip to the emergency room for your dog

That doesn’t mean you can’t bake your favorite holiday treats with xylitol, but it does mean you need to exercise a lot of caution when using it to bake with your pets in the house. Keep anything made with xylitol far away from your pet’s reach. The holidays can be chaotic and make it hard to keep track of who is doing what and where inside of the house, so it’s a good idea to establish a spot for these healthier treats before you get into the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving day.

Avoid Stressing Out Your Pets

Small white dog laying in red patterned dog bed
Create a safe space for your pet to reduce their stress this Thanksgiving!

Dogs and cats don’t understand sudden changes as well as humans do. We can’t communicate to them that the in-laws are coming over for the holidays. A sudden rush of guests they aren’t familiar with can absolutely rock their world, and not necessarily in a good way.

Here are some tips to keep the stress levels down in your house on Thanksgiving Day.

  • Create a calming space
  • Stock up on calming pheromones
  • Don’t force your pet to socialize

Create a Calming Space

A calming space for your furry friend to escape to is essential when there are lots of new variables encroaching on their home. The safe space should be familiar and filled with their favorite toys and recognizable scents. Try putting their crate in a room they enjoy spending time in with their treasured toy and choice treat.

Stock Up on Calming Pheromones

Calming pheromones send chemical signals that communicate a certain comforting message to your pet, typically that they are safe. Most pet stores sell them for both dogs and cats in the form of sprays, wipes, and diffusers.

Don’t Force Your Pet to Socialize

Whether your pet is an introvert or just confused as to why your entire family is packed in the kitchen, Thanksgiving day can be overwhelming for our four-legged family members. Be sure to read your dog or cat’s body language for signs of discomfort around anyone new to gauge how they’re feeling. If they’re looking uncomfortable, it may be time to transfer them to their safe space.

Traveling with Your Pet

Gray and white cat sitting in crate
Our PetWellClinic veterinarians can help you and your pet prepare for Thanksgiving travel. Walk in today!

If you plan on traveling with your pet at all for Thanksgiving, do your research before taking off! Some airlines may require a veterinary health certificate, while others may simply require a rabies vaccine. Before you book your ticket, call the airlines you’re considering to find the best and safest option for you and your pet. 

Road trips in your own car don’t require quite as much research or steps as flying with your pet, but they still require some preparation. If your pet has experienced motion sickness or expressed fear while traveling in the past, you can visit us at any of our locations to discuss options to make the experience more pleasant for your travel buddy. 

Traveling with your pet can also require more frequent stops than you’re used to. Your dog will need to stop regularly to use the restroom as well as to walk around and stretch their legs. Map out the rest stops along your route before starting the drive to make your life easier!

Read our blog for more tips and tricks on traveling with your pet.

If your pet needs vaccinations before being boarded, all of our locations offer convenient and comprehensive wellness packages for cats and dogs as well as individual vaccines. Because all of our clinics operate on a walk-in model, you can even stop by one of our clinics on your way to the kennel! All of us at PetWellClinic® wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving filled with good food and memories!

PetWellClinic® is dedicated to being here for pet owners. Our hours of operation extend into the evenings and weekends, and our clinic environment is built with your pet’s comfort in mind. Visit your local PetWellClinic® to take care of your pet’s health!

PetWellClinic® provides convenient, affordable veterinary care for pet owners. PetWellClinic® has locations and services built with convenience in mind. Stop by with your pet anytime! No appointment necessary.

Editor’s note: This blog post has been updated since its original publication in November 2020 for comprehensiveness.

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