Don’t be a Turkey: Pet Safety Tips for the Thanksgiving Holiday!

Thanksgiving is a wonderful time for friends and family to gather, spend quality time together and show gratitude for all they are fortunate to have.

While feasting on the multitudes of delicious entrées, keep in mind these important tips for keeping your pets healthy and safe during this Thanksgiving season:

  • Don’t offer your pet food that is different than they would normally eat.  If your pet is not used to eating certain foods, they may experience vomiting and/or diarrhea as a result of a sensitive digestive system.  One major problem that may arise due to the consumption of inappropriate foods is the inflammation of the pancreas, a potentially life-threatening condition.


  • If you are keen on your pet sharing in the Thanksgiving goodies, and you are confident they will not experience indigestion, vomiting and/or diarrhea as a result, offering small amounts of lean, well-cooked pieces of turkey (preferably white meat), plain mashed potatoes, loose corn and/or green beans is advisable.  Avoid fatty foods and/or the fat trimmed from meat, spices or spicy cuisine, or food that has had butter or cream added. Corn in loose form is best because corn on the cob can be dangerous if the cob itself is swallowed, causing a blockage of the digestive system and potentially emergency surgery.


  • Remember: these tidbits of food offered should be a form of treat for your pet, and not a replacement for their usual diet.


  • Be extremely cautious about giving bones to your pet, especially poultry bones.  They should never be given to, or be accessible to your pet.  Bones can splinter when chewed, causing laceration or blockage of the digestive system when swallowed.


  • Food wrappers, aluminum foil, wax paper and other disposable items which may smell or tasty yummy from the dinner juices can cause blockages if swallowed by your pet.  It only takes a minute of inattention for our pets to get into mischief, and raid the garbage. Make sure such items, together with all bones and food scraps are securely placed in the garbage, and the garbage is kept safely out of reach of all pets.


  • Pets are creatures of habit, so maintaining a regular schedule for feeding, exercise and rest reduces how much stress your pet may experience.


  • Providing a quiet place for your pet to get away from the main activity may help alleviate their stress, as well as decrease the likelihood of begging for food throughout the meal.  Discourage your guests from offering treats at the table, as it makes it harder to track the quantity and types of food your pet is consuming.  When offering tidbits, put the food in their usual feeding dish and monitor the amount they are being given.


  • What with the hustle and bustle that accompanies the holiday season, it is advisable to ensure your pet is wearing a secure collar with ID tag, in the event your pet gets loose. This will increase the chances of being reunited with your pet in the event they get lost.  Consider microchipping your pet by your Richmond Hill veterinarian, another great method of increasing your cases of being reunited with your lost pet!


  •  If you are planning to travel with your pet this Thanksgiving, pack accordingly – include their regular food, healthy treats, familiar toys, bedding and a crate or appropriate carrier for transportation. These items will make the trip much more pleasant for your pet, cutting down the stress often associated with travel.


If your pet experiences motion sickness, please speak to your Richmond Hill veterinarian about medication to alleviate this problem.

With a little planning, awareness and common sense, Thanksgiving can be a fun time for everyone, including our beloved pets!

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