by Katelyn Schutz CPDT
Let us give thanks to our pets for all the love and joy they bring to our every day lives… but let’s also keep our furry friends safe this holiday season! Thanksgiving is a popular time for pets to get ill, escape, or become stressed. Keep these pet safety tips in mind to ensure a happy, healthy holiday for ALL your family members!
Keep your pet entertained and exercised. Busy cooking and preparing? Bustling around town to visit family and friends? Consider hiring a professional dog walking and pet sitting service to care for and exercise your pets during this hectic time! Dogs who aren’t adequately exercised are more likely to jump on every guest that enters, or dig through the trash can for that turkey bone. Cats who are bored are more likely to jump on your counter and lick the turkey gravy. A tired pet is a good pet! Set your furry companion up to succeed by providing plenty of physical and mental stimulation before your guests arrive, to prevent common nuisance behaviors.
Avoid feeding table scraps to your pets. In my 8 years of veterinary medicine experience, we would commonly see sick pets around the holidays. Fatty foods like turkey skin and butter can create pancreatitis and GI distress. Many holiday foods are actually toxic to our pets as well. We all know the popular ones like chocolate, but most are unaware of others like onions, grapes/raisins, and macadamia nuts. Cooked bones are another tempting item to want to give your pet to chew on this Thanksgiving. However, bones can splinter and perforate the intestines, which could be life-threatening and require emergency surgery. Best to avoid all table scraps in general. If you feel guilty like me, make your pet a turkey Kong with healthy baby food instead 🙂
Manage your environment to set your pet up to succeed. Your pet should have a safe, quiet place to retreat to from all the bustle and excitement. Let your guests know to leave this area alone, or simply put up a “do not disturb” sign on the door. Put up baby gates or keep doors closed if needed. Make this area calming and positive. Perhaps play some quiet music, spray some calming pheromones, and leave your dog or cat with it’s favorite toy or chew to keep busy.
During mealtime, keep pets busy somewhere else! Give your dog a frozen Kong, or your kitty an interactive puzzle game filled with salmon snacks, in a completely different room. This will prevent your pets from having access to fallen food (which could be dangerous, even toxic), or defiant relatives who insist on slipping your pet some table scraps. Consider keeping your pets out of the kitchen and dining areas completely, to prevent counter surfing, garbage raiding, and floor scavenging.
Watch the front door! Many pets can accidentally escape during busy holiday times when people are in and out of doors. Keep your pet safe by putting up gates, and keeping them away from commonly used doorways. Consider putting up a sign on the outside and inside of your main entrance, to warn guests to be aware of pets by the door.
Keep updated identification, collars, and tags on your pets at all times. It’s easy for a pet to get suddenly spooked by the commotion and take off during busy holiday times. A guest slips out for a smoke break, and now the cat is no where to be found. A new guest arrives and the dog busts through the door to go play with his doggie friend across the street. Be sure to keep your pets tags and collars on during holidays in the off chance something like this happens!