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Thanksgiving is Great, But Make Sure It Stays That Way for Your Pet

Other than maybe eating too much, Thanksgiving is a great holiday. Good food, good company and many cherished traditions.

What could go wrong?

For your pets, plenty—or at least plenty of possibilities.

Swallowing bones ia one of the most common problems. Dogs and cats are not always judicious in their eating habits. Cheerfully tossing them a piece of turkey may turn into a disaster and ruin the holiday if the pet chokes or swallows something that can actually puncture organs. The same danger exists with scraps and leftovers dropped into the trash. Note: Poultry bones are especially hazardous as they can easily splinter and stick in the esophagus, stomach or intestines.

Some dangers are not so obvious. A friendly dog or cat is great until they get under foot. It’s usually a humorous encounter that pet owners learn to navigate. But combining that with a tray of hot grease or other kitchen hazards is a potentially disastrous. Birds allowed to roam indoors and curious cats or ferrets are also at risk if their instincts lead them into contact with a danger they only see once a year. Think holiday candles, foods with potential pet hazards (including chocolate,  left out on trays or even “their room” full of people. If guests include older relatives or friends, keep that danger in mind as well.

Speaking of lots of people, holiday visitors may not be used to quickly closing doors to keep your dog, cat or other pet indoors. For this and the dangers mentioned above, you might consider keeping your pet more “contained” than usual, at least at peak hours. This might mean a pen, cage, another room or the backyard, but a little advance planning can really help avoid problems. Just having an alternative plan is itself important.

Speaking of advance planning, when you make your “pre-Thanksgiving” trip to the grocery, consider a bag of treats to use instead of tossing leftovers. Your pet will not feel left out and will be much healthier.

Plants and other decorations are another issue to consider. Holiday decorations, including candles (see above) and many plants, add a nice touch to your home. However, they can be dangerous for both pets and people. Candles are an obvious possibility because of flame that can burn a pet—or the house if knocked over! Candles such as cinnamon, fig, vanilla and other scents may cause stomach issues if eaten by your pet.

If you do suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 (the ASPCA may charge a consultation fee).

We don’t want to ruin your holiday, just remind that a few steps might be worth considering to keep you and your pet safe over the holiday! Happy Thanksgiving!