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Pet Care Do's and Don'ts for a Happy, Healthy Thanksgiving

If you're thankful for your pet, make sure to follow these important Thanksgiving pet dos and don'ts.

November 13, 2023 4 min read
Pet Care Do's and Don'ts for a Happy, Healthy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has a long history as an American tradition in which loved ones get together, enjoy a feast, and celebrate the many things they're thankful for. As a loving pet owner, your four-legged friend surely counts among the greatest joys in your life -- so you want to make sure that your holiday together is safe, happy, and healthy. Take a look at some pet dos and don'ts for Thanksgiving.

Do Prepare Your Pet for Thanksgiving Travels

On a typical Thanksgiving weekend, some folks receive guests while others pay their respects as guests. If you'll be traveling to visit a distant friend or family member this Thanksgiving, give serious thought as to whether your pet can or should accompany you. For instance, if your pet suffers from a known chronic health condition, it may be safer and more comfortable to arrange a stay at a reputable boarding facility that also offers veterinary monitoring and treatment.

If your pet will definitely be traveling with you, schedule any necessary vaccination updates immediately. Clean the pet carrier and get it ready with favorite pet toys and treats. (Don't forget the fresh water!) If you have a short-nosed pet such as a Pug or Boston Terrier, plan on driving instead of flying, since the high altitudes can deprive these animals of oxygen.

Don't Let Your Pet Eat From the Thanksgiving Table

Food counts as a major attraction at Thanksgiving, and you can expect your dog or cat to be right there at the table begging for a taste of those special seasonal entrees. However, a pet's Thanksgiving feast should not include human foods.

Many of the foods we can safely enjoy can cause illness or even death in pets, from citrus fruits and grapes or raisins to alcohol, garlic, and chocolate. Even an innocent-looking bite of turkey may contain hazardous shards of bone. Other human foods may contain too much fat, sugar, and salt for non-human Thanksgiving guests.

Do Arrange for a Peaceful Pet Holiday

Thanksgiving can be a boisterous time when your home is filled with celebrants trading stories, having drinks, and watching noisy football games on TV. If your pet hasn't grown accustomed to this level of activity at other times of year, it may experience acute anxiety or stress as a result. You can plan for a more peaceful pet holiday by preparing by a quiet, comforting space your dog or cat can use as a retreat. Check in with your pet frequently to see to its needs and provide reassurance.

Some pets can get overstimulated into a frenzy by all the action around them. You can defuse this issue in advance by giving your pet plenty of exercise, such as walks or interactive play sessions. A tired pet will be more likely to ignore outside stimulation or even sleep through the big day.

Don't Lose Your Pet in All the Merriment

Thanksgiving guests may enter and exit your home regularly during a Thanksgiving celebration, ducking into the yard for a game of catch and coming back in to refresh drinks and snack bowls. Unfortunately, an agitated pet may see that open door as an invitation to get away from all the chaos. In the worst-case scenario, your dog or cat may actually run away, finding themselves hopelessly lost or getting into an accident.

Pay special attention while your guests are arriving and when everyone starts to leave. Move your pet behind closed doors or safety gates during these times. Ask your guests to help you keep your pets from dashing out of the door.

Do Microchip Your Pet Before Thanksgiving

No matter how carefully you guard your home's exits, an especially stealthy, slippery, or determined pet can still find a way to escape your control and go missing. That's why you should get your pet microchipped before your upcoming Thanksgiving revelry.

Microchipping doesn't involve any kind of elaborate, expensive procedure. A simple injection plants this tiny device beneath your pet's skin. If your lost animal turns up at an animal shelter or veterinary office, a simple digital scan can help reunite you with your pet.

Don't Put Out Dangerous Decorations

Like other seasonal holidays, Thanksgiving often involves festive decorations. You may even feel like getting an early start on your Christmas decor to enliven your party further. But whatever decorations you use, remember to decorate with your pet's health and safety in mind.

Think twice about the components of your thanksgiving centerpiece. Floral displays featuring poinsettias, baby's breath, or hydrangeas can prove toxic to a curious pet. Avoid displays involving tinsel, pine needles, and other objects that pets might ingest at their peril.

One Final To Do: Keep an Emergency Vet's Number Handy

The pet holiday tips listed above should boost your pet's chances for a happy, healthy Thanksgiving holiday. Even so, you can't completely eliminate the risk of an accident occurring in all the holiday hustle and bustle. If your pet displays signs of a serious problem, make sure you have the phone number for the nearest 24/7 emergency animal hospital on hand. The right combination of home care best practices and professional assistance can make this Thanksgiving one you can truly feel thankful for!

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