A lot of preparation goes into the Thanksgiving celebration, and pet owners must consider added issues to ensure their four-legged friend remains safe. Our Peak City Veterinary Hospital asks you to take our Thanksgiving pet safety pop quiz to see if you are fully prepared to protect your furry pal from turkey day’s many hazards.

Question: True or False? Turkey meat is a nice Thanksgiving treat for your pet

Answer: True, but only if you give your pet a small amount of unseasoned, white turkey meat. The big bird can be problematic for your pet in many ways, including:

  • Dark meat and skin — The turkey’s dark meat and skin are high in fat, which can trigger pancreatitis, a painful, potentially life-threatening condition. Signs include inappetence, lethargy, fever, abdominal pain, and vomiting. 
  • Bones — Cooked turkey bones are brittle and can injure your pet’s mouth or gastrointestinal (GI) tract if they splinter. In addition, turkey bones can create a GI obstruction that may require surgical removal. 
  • Brine — This aromatic concoction will likely attract attention, but the brine is extremely salty and can lead to salt toxicity if your pet ingests too much. Signs include weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures.
  • Twine — The twine trussing the turkey can cause a GI obstruction if your pet chows down on a turkey leg and ingests the string. Signs include inappetence, vomiting, and abdominal pain. 

Question: True or False? Many common Thanksgiving dishes are toxic to pets

Answer: True. Pets don’t metabolize foods the same way as people, and many ingredients found in Thanksgiving dishes are toxic to pets. Potential pet toxins include:

  • Allium vegetables — Vegetables such as onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, scallions, and chives are commonly used to season Thanksgiving sides, but they contain N-propyl disulfide, which is toxic to pets. Whether raw, cooked, or powdered, these vegetables are dangerous for pets, causing red blood cell damage that leads to anemia. Signs include lethargy, decreased appetite, vomiting, elevated heart rate, pale gums, reddish urine, and fainting. 
  • Grapes, raisins, and currants — Some people use grapes, raisins, or currants in their stuffing, but these fruits can cause kidney failure in pets. Initial signs include vomiting, inappetence, lethargy, and diarrhea. Once kidney damage occurs, signs include vomiting, excessive thirst and urination, and breath with an ammonia odor.
  • Chocolate — The Thanksgiving dessert table wouldn’t be complete without a chocolate treat, but the delectable sweet contains caffeine and theobromine, which stimulate the pet’s central nervous system. Signs include increased heart and respiratory rates, restlessness, vomiting, diarrhea, and, in severe cases, muscle tremors, seizures, and heart failure. All chocolate forms are toxic to pets, but the darker the chocolate, the higher the toxicity risk.
  • Xylitol — Xylitol is a sugar substitute often used in sugar-free baked goods that causes a dose dependent insulin release in pets and can lead to extreme hypoglycemia. Signs include vomiting, weakness, collapse, and seizures, and also liver damage. 

Question: True or False? All pets enjoy the commotion of the Thanksgiving gathering

Answer: False. Many pets are stressed or frightened by guests entering their home and the commotion associated with the Thanksgiving celebration. Watch for signs that include hiding, lip licking, avoiding eye contact, excessive panting or drooling, lifting a front limb, and aggression.

Question: True or False? Your pet needs a health certificate to travel

Answer: Trick question! This depends on where you are traveling. If you are taking your pet across state lines or flying with them, they need a health certificate. Airlines have different health certificate requirements, so check with your airline to ensure you obtain the appropriate document in the appropriate time frame. 

Question: How can you protect your pet from Thanksgiving dangers?

Answer: Tips to keep your four-legged friend out of harm’s way this Thanksgiving include:

  • Confine your pet to their crate or another room, especially during food preparation and the Thanksgiving feast.
  • Notify your guests that your pet is not allowed table scraps, no matter how much they beg.
  • Keep trash in sealed containers, and take the garbage outside as soon as the bag is full.
  • Keep leftovers securely stored in the refrigerator or behind closed doors to prevent counter surfing.
  • Watch for discarded plates and cups and throw them away as soon as possible.
  • Identify your pet properly in case they escape during the Thanksgiving commotion.

Microchipping your pet is the best way to provide permanent identification that can’t be lost or removed, but you must keep your contact information updated. Your pet should also always wear a secure collar and legible identification tags with your current contact information. Alert your guests to watch for your furry pal when entering and leaving your home to prevent a pet escapee. 

  • If your pet doesn’t appreciate company, confine them in an interior room, with music to mask noises and a food-puzzle toy to distract them. 
  • If your pet is anxiety prone, ask our Peak City Veterinary Hospital team if they would benefit from an anti-anxiety medication.
  • If you are traveling with your pet on Thanksgiving, plan ahead to ensure the necessary arrangements (e.g., health certificate, boarding reservations, pet sitter) are made before you leave. 

How did you do? Our Peak City Veterinary Hospital team gives you an A+ for being a concerned pet owner. Contact us if you need a health certificate or a microchip for your pet before your holiday travel, or if you think your four-legged friend’s Thanksgiving experience can be improved by an anti-anxiety medication.