Tips for a safe holiday for your pet

Thanksgiving is a special holiday that brings family and friends together, but it can carry some risks for pets.

The American Veterinary Medical Association has revealed tips for keeping your furry friends happy and safe during Thanksgiving and the holiday season, from holiday foods that should be kept away from animals to pet owners who are traveling and need to transport their pets safely.

What can I feed my pet on Thanksgiving?

Excessive family feasting may be harmful to human health, but the AVMA says it can be even worse for pets.

“If you want to give your pet something fun for Thanksgiving, go get him a special treat or something from the store designed just for him,” Dr. Douglas Balls, former president of AVMA, told FOX TV. “I know the holidays are here and we want to involve our pets in it, but we have to be careful.”

Often, Balls said lean turkey and vegetables like green beans, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and peas should be safe for your pets to eat, assuming they’re not in sauces.

November 28: Cute 10-week-old Border puppy eats from dog bowl (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)

However, Balls noted that pet owners should be very careful about giving pets human foods.

Many foods that are healthy for people are toxic to pets – including onions, raisins, and grapes.

Several spices can also be harmful, including onion powder and garlic powder – which can cause blood disorders.

It can be difficult for your pet to digest a lot of fat, which can include turkey or turkey skin, and can cause a condition known as pancreatitis in some animals.

In addition, poultry bones can cause choking, along with damage to the digestive system of pets.

Finally, holiday sweets can contain ingredients that are toxic to pets. For example, chocolate can be harmful to pets, and the artificial sweetener called xylitol — commonly used in sugar-free gum and baked goods — can be deadly if consumed by dogs or cats.

Symptoms to look out for

According to the AVMA, signs of pet distress include: sudden changes in behavior, depression, pain, vomiting, or diarrhea.

“If they’re more withdrawn than us and that’s not typical, or do they have some vomiting issues, do they have an upset stomach, those are things to look out for,” Balls continued. “If they keep going fast and that’s not normal or they have an abnormal posture, these could be issues.”

Related: Thanksgiving Dinner: The Origins of Our Traditional Food

The first thing to do is pick up your phone because AVMA said acting fast can save lives.

If you think your pet has been poisoned or has eaten something they shouldn’t, contact your vet or local emergency veterinary clinic right away.

You may also wish to call the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline.

Other pet safety precautions

During the holidays, guests come and go, and some visitors can annoy your furry friend.

Some pets can become shy or excited about new people or crowds, so if you know your pet is feeling nervous, arrange to put him in another room with his favorite toy. This may help reduce animal stress.

Related: How long do leftovers last at Thanksgiving? The USDA says 3 to 4 days

Additionally, be sure to put the trash away where your pets can’t locate it. Dispose of turkey carcasses and bones—which can be fatal to your pet—and place them in a tightly covered, sealed litter bag in a trash container outside.

Traveling with a pet while on vacation

Whether you take your pets with you or leave them behind, it is important to take precautions to protect them when traveling during the holidays.

You’ll want to pack for your pet the same way you would for yourself while on a trip. Remember to take your pet’s food, medication, medical records, information to help identify your pet if your pet is lost, and first aid supplies.

If you are traveling across state lines or international borders, your pet will need a health certificate from your veterinarian.

Find out the requirements for any state you will be visiting or passing through, and make an appointment with your veterinarian to obtain the required certification within the time frames required by those states.

If you’re traveling by air, the AVMA said you should speak with your vet first. Air travel can put some pets at risk, especially dogs with a short nose.

If you are traveling by car, secure your pet in a harness or carrier, free of any airbags. This will help protect your pet from accidents and keep them away from any toxic food items. Also, never leave your pets alone in vehicles, even for a short time.

If you are climbing your dog, speak with your vet to find out how best to protect your pet from canine flu

and other infectious diseases, and make sure your pet is up to date on vaccinations. Also, plan ahead. Many kennels are booked out, so make sure you have a plan ready.


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