Thanksgiving aromas will soon fill the air, but these homey fragrances of turkey, garlic, onion, and spices can smell trouble for your pet’s health and safety. This holiday season, take special care of your furry family members, by checking out Somerset Animal Hospital’s turkey day tips.

Take Thanksgiving danger off the table for pets

Second only to the turkey, the table is a symbol of Thanksgiving togetherness. As we pull up a chair and reunite with family and friends over a meal, drinks, and stories, ensure your pet isn’t having their own covert celebration dining on these dangerous delectables:

  • Turkey — Turkey isn’t toxic, but many parts of the big bird are off-limits for pets. Dark or undercooked meat, greasy skin, and fat can cause gastrointestinal upset, or pancreatitis. 
  • A bone to pick — Turkey bones are not only choking hazards, but also may splinter or become lodged in the intestine, and become a dangerous obstruction. 
  • Garlic, onions, chives — Commonly found in stuffing, dressing, and casseroles, these ingredients cause red blood cell damage in pets. 
  • Yeast dough — Raw dough can rise inside a pet’s stomach, increasing gas pressure, and fermenting into alcohol.
  • Desserts — Fall baked goods may contain raisins, currants, chocolate, or macadamia nuts, which can cause devastating—and potentially deadly—results when ingested by dogs or cats. Store-bought or sugar-free goods may be made with xylitol, a dangerous sugar substitute.
  • Alcohol — Pets are attracted to alcohol’s sweet smell, and can suffer from alcohol toxicity. Don’t let your pet tie one on—keep drinks out of their reach.
  • Trash — Keep trash cans in the garage or behind a closed door or gate, to discourage a holiday dumpster dive. Holiday garbage may contain fatty meat drippings, trimmings, bones, cooking twine, and food wrappers, and can result in pancreatitis, laceration, or intestinal blockage.

If your pet has ingested a toxin or foreign object, immediately contact Somerset Animal Hospital, or call the ASPCA Pet Poison Control.

Must-have decor can be a must-eat for pets

Fall decorations bring the outdoors inside, and can be confusing—and amusing—for pets. Small display items, such as gourds, corn cobs, pine cones, acorns, and branches, are commonly mistaken for chew toys or food, and can cause a cornucopia of problems, including injury to a pet’s mouth, choking, and intestinal obstruction. The chrysanthemums (i.e., mums or daisies) on your porch, or autumn crocuses  on your table, are cheery and beautiful to look at, but toxic to dogs and cats. If you’ll be using candles, essential oils, or potpourri to put fall in the air, don’t place the flame, burner, or diffuser where your pet can reach. 

In good company—houseguests and pets

If you’re hosting family and friends, ensure that they know the house rules for your pet:

  • Keep doors and gates closed — Instruct guests to pay attention while coming and going, to prevent accidental pet escape. Keep current identification on your pet at all times, and have them microchipped for added security.
  • Practice table manners — Let guests know they should not feed your pet from their plate. If they insist on sharing, give them low-fat treats.
  • Don’t share personal items — Guest luggage or purses may contain dangerous prescription medication, nicotine products, or xylitol-containing sugar-free gum, mints, or candy. Encourage guests to store all bags and belongings on wall hooks or shelves—not on the floor—and keep their room doors closed.
  • Respect a pet’s personal space — Prevent bites and scratches by informing your guests—especially any children—not to disturb your pet while they are resting, eating, chewing on a toy, or eliminating. Always supervise any interactions between pets and children, and remove your pet if they appear anxious or stressed.

You can’t get away from your family, but your pet can

The holiday season means a full house for many families, as guests visit and celebrate together. No matter how well your visitors know your pet, they may be stressed by the sudden crowd, noise, and activity. Give your pet a safe, quiet place, such as a crate or small room, to escape the excitement. Provide a comfortable bed, toys, water, and a litter box, so that your pet can stay as long as they like. Pheromone diffusers, such as Adaptil and Feliway, can help make your pet more comfortable and relaxed, while radio or television background noise can drown out loud voices. Use this space to safely confine your pet during the holiday meal, or to keep them from escaping during guest arrivals or departures. 

Holiday road—traveling safely with your pet

Whether you’re taking to the roads or the skies this holiday, if you’re traveling with your pet, plan for every contingency:

  • Schedule a pre-travel examination at Somerset Animal Hospital, to ensure your pet is healthy and current on vaccinations, and to refill travel medications and preventives. 
  • Pack your pet’s vaccine records, emergency contact numbers, and a current photo of you with your pet, in case you are separated. 
  • Ensure your pet’s identification tags and microchip information are up-to-date, and that your pet is comfortable in their crate or seatbelt. 
  • Airline policies and requirements vary by carrier, so ensure you contact your airline directly for current pet travel guidelines.
  • Travel with a pet first-aid kit for minor injuries. 

This holiday season, show your pet you’re thankful for them, by keeping them safe, comfortable, and healthy. To schedule your pet’s pre-holiday appointment, contact the team at Somerset Animal Hospital.