Tips to Protect Your Pet This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a special holiday that brings together family and friends, but it also brings about a greater risk for our pets. While food is an important part of this holiday for humans, it’s also the reason for an increase in animal emergencies this time of year. Most of the Thanksgiving-related injuries and illnesses treated at DoveLewis Veterinary Emergency & Specialty Hospital are caused by food and can be prevented with a few of our tips.

“Most of the problems pets face during Thanksgiving and the holiday season can be easily prevented if pet owners are informed," said Dr. Ladan Mohammad-Zadeh, a DoveLewis Critical Care Specialist. "The most common hazard is gastrointestinal upset caused by fatty foods, so avoid sharing what's on your Thanksgiving dinner plate, secure your garbage cans, and know which foods can pose the most serious problems for pets."

To ensure a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving for all, follow these tips for pet safety:

  • Don’t share human food with pets. It may seem cruel to withhold holiday treats but feeding pets "people food" often results in problems ranging from mild gastrointestinal upset to severe pancreatitis and even potentially life-threatening obstructions. Fatty foods are hard for animals to digest. Poultry bones can damage your pet’s digestive tract. Some foods like chocolate, grapes, and onions are toxic to animals. It’s best not to share. You never know what the secret ingredient in that family recipe is. It’s always best to be cautious.
  • Keep pets away from raw or undercooked turkey, or cooked turkey that has been sitting out. . It could be infected with salmonella, a bacterial organism that may be present in the turkey’s intestinal tract. The cooking process usually destroys the organisms, making the turkey safe to eat. However, if the cooked meat sits at room temperature for too long, the salmonella organisms can return, multiply, and cause contamination.
  • Do not allow a dog near turkey bones. These bones are hollow and splinter easily into sharp pieces. Splinters can lodge in a pet’s throat or intestine, or it can cause punctures to the intestinal tract and create blockages. They may stay lodged in a dog’s body for days before symptoms appear. Signs of serious problems may include loss of appetite, depression, vomiting, or diarrhea. Sometimes the bone will pass by itself. Other times, surgical removal is needed.
  • No pie, desserts, or unbaked goods for your pawsome pals. Sometimes your favorite holiday baked goods are just as fussy as your furry family members. If you are baking something that needs to rest, rise, or cool, make sure your pet cannot reach them. Chocolate can be harmful to pets, especially since many dogs are curious and will sniff it out. The artificial sweetener called xylitol – commonly used ingum and sugar-free baked goods – can also be deadly if consumed by dogs or cats. Yeast dough can cause problems like painful gas and bloating if your pets swoop in for a taste.
  • Your trash shouldn’t be your pet’s treasure. Make sure to always secure garbage cans, especially when they contain food scraps and bones. Otherwise, pets may try for a dumpster dive that could have dangerous consequences.

    Ways to Prepare for a Pawsome Thanksgiving for Both Pets & Humans:

    While hosting Thanksgiving can be the highlight of the year for humans, it can be overwhelming for pets. While food usually causes the most problems for pets on Turkey Day, a home filled with additional people, sparkly décor, or a new adventure can cause pets to be stressful for our pets because it is a big change in the regular routine.

  • Don't forget about the festive decor. Pets and humans alike enjoy a festive display. But pinecones, needles and other holiday decor can cause intestinal blockages or possibly perforate an animal’s intestine if eaten. Also, be sure to check that none of your fresh floral décor includes plants that are toxic to pets. As always, never leave a pet alone in an area with a lit candle. 


  • Create a comfort zone for your pets. Visiting friends and relatives, even of the canine variety, can upset pets. Stress and anxiety can manifest in variety of ways for pets and cause them to differently than they normally do. Create a comfort zone for your pet in a quiet space of your home for them relax until the new sounds, smells, and activity of the holiday celebration are over.


  • Be sure pets are wearing ID tags and update their microchip information. With house guests coming and going, it’s common for unsupervised pets to get loose. Watch the exits and check on updating a pet’s microchip to ensure that a lost pet will be returned if they do get out.


  • Properly prepare for travel with your pet. Bringing your pet along for holiday adventures is a big decision. If you are traveling by car, be sure to restrain your furry friend with a harness or carrier safely to that they are well protected during the journey. Consult your veterinarian if you are flying and plan to bring your pet along with you. 
Pet thanksgiving tips


Quick Action Can Save Lives.

If you believe that your animal is ill or may have ingested a toxic substance, contact your local veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435.

If your pet needs care, call your primary veterinarian if they are available or call DoveLewis at 503-228-7281 for help. We have veterinary technicians available 24/7 to help.




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