Please mommy! C’mon pleeeeeeeease!!! Those of us lucky enough to have dogs and cats in our lives know how hard it can be to resist that adorable, hungry and downright tortured “begging face” during a regular dinner. It’s especially hard on Thanksgiving, while we’re filling our plates high with delicious-smelling goodies!
Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday that brings together family and friends and includes exciting trips and festive entertainment. However, it also can carry some hazards for pets, not least of which is the glorious feast that we all look forward to and spend many hours and sometimes even days or weeks preparing.
This year, before giving in and preparing a plate for your pup or hit the road to visit family and friends, consider these tips to keep Thanksgiving a safe, healthful holiday for your dog or cat.
1. Stuffed like a Turkey?
At the heart of Thanksgiving, while turkey meat is a wonderful treat for your pet and contains healthy, lean protein, make sure to leave off the skin and ensure that all bones are removed. Turkey skin is often fatty which is difficult for dogs to digest and bones are a dangerous choking hazard.
2. The ‘no-no’ list
Many foods that are healthy for people are poisonous to pets. Onions, garlic, leeks, scallions are known as ‘alliums’ and while research shows that they help to protect us humans against both cardiovascular disease and cancer, ingesting large quantities of these foods can lead to toxic anaemia in your pet. Similarly, grapes (and subsequently raisins), can be toxic to pets and have been shown to cause kidney failure in dogs. Best to just say NO!
Chocolate is a well-known off-limits indulgence for pets, but this can be particularly difficult to monitor at holiday time when baking chocolate is used in recipes and sometimes forgotten about by the time the dishes hit the table. So, make sure you’re extra vigilant!
Another biggie on the ‘no-no’ list is the artificial sweetener xylitol. It’s commonly used in gum and sugar-free baked goods and can be deadly if consumed by dogs or cats.
Alcohol should be absolutely off limits for pets. What we may consider a small amount can be toxic for a smaller animal. It’s important to also be aware that alcohol poisoning in pets can also arise from seasonal delights such as fruit cake, which may contain rum or other liquor, so make sure begging lips are kept far away from baking bowls too!
Nuts – A good saying is “You’d need to be nuts to feed your pet nuts.” Although some nuts may not contain native toxins that adversely affect dogs, the shells of all nuts present the risk of tearing tissue as they move through a dog’s digestive tract. The meat of many nuts contains high quantities of fats that can cause upset stomachs and many store-bought, commercially-available nuts are also packaged with salt and other chemicals, which can dehydrate or even poison dogs. So best to keep the nut feast to yourself.
Cooked Bones. While your pooch can chew on raw bones all day long, cooked bones present a bit of danger. Due to their soft nature, they commonly splinter and can easily lodge themselves in your pet’s throat causing them to choke.
3. Safe treats
If you want to share a Thanksgiving treat with your pet, the best option is to make or buy a treat that is made just for them. However, there are a few Thanksgiving staples that your pet could also enjoy. Many vegetables such as Carrots are a wonderful treat for pets, so if they’re on your table this holiday season, feel free to share. Similarly, potatoes, plain green beans, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and broccoli are all healthy for your dog to eat, just make sure they haven’t been cooked with anything from the ‘no-no’ list!
If you love giving your pet a really special, seasonal treat, you’ll be glad to hear that Cranberry sauce is just fine for pets to eat. However, watch the amount of sugar in it – it is probably best to only provide a small helping to your pet’s plate.
Another seasonal staple is Macaroni and Cheese, which is a safe leftover to share, so long as you know your pet’s stomach handles dairy. If you are unsure though, it may be best to just give plain macaroni and remember that cats often develop lactose intolerance when they become adults.
4. Take out the trash
While you may have been meticulous in ensuring that your pet does not sneak any naughty tit-bits from the table, please make sure that when all the feasting is over that you put the trash away where your pets can’t find it! A turkey carcass sitting out on the carving table or left in a trash container that is open or easily opened, could be deadly to your family pet. Dispose of turkey carcasses and bones – and anything used to wrap or tie the meat, such as strings, bags and packaging – in a covered, tightly secured trash bag placed in a closed trash container outdoors (or behind a closed, locked door). Better safe than sorry.
5. Precautions for Parties
If you are hosting a Thanksgiving get together, remember that visitors can upset your pets. If you know your dog or cat is nervous when people visit your home, secure him/her in another room or a crate with a favorite toy. This will reduce the emotional stress on your pet and protect your guests from possible injury. Make sure your pet has proper identification with your current contact information – particularly a microchip with up-to-date, registered information – so that if the worst should happen and they do sneak out during a party, they’re more likely to be returned to you.
If your pet is particularly upset by houseguests, or the general ‘busyness’ of Thanksgiving, talk to your veterinarian about possible solutions to suit your pet’s needs. Many pet lovers have found great results with Anxiety Relief – a natural medicine that helps to keep pets calm during generally anxious situations.
6. Travel Safely
If you are travelling this holiday season and have chosen to take your four legged friend with you, follow our 7 Tips for Holiday Travel with Your Pet to help ensure a safe and enjoyable trip for everyone!
All that’s left for us to say is have a very Happy, Healthy and Safe Thanksgiving!