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October 02, 2017

There are few things more beautiful and heartwarming than a house full of family, friends, decorations, yummy foods and a wave of holiday cheer. However, Fluffy and Mr. Whiskers might disagree. For some animals, Thanksgiving is nothing short of stressful chaos where they will have a hard time adjusting to a sudden influx of excited people.

In addition, there are a number of ways you might need to take extra care of your pet’s safety in the hustle bustle of the holiday, especially if you are new to pet parenting. Let’s take a look at five tips that will help you make this Thanksgiving a much safer and healthier experience for your best friend

1. Be prepared for the begging

With the holidays approaching, your cat or dog will definitely beg you to let them be part of the big turkey dinner, but you should know better than to give in to those puppy-dog eyes. Remember that not all human foods work for pets, which is why you will need to keep an eye out for any dangers they stumble upon.

Make sure to clearly let your guests know that your pet is not to be fed random stuff. Lay out firm ground rules or completely forbid them to avoid any type of negligence that could risk your dog or cat’s health. If your pet ingests anything unsafe, make sure to contact your vet immediately. If they are away for the holidays, there should be an emergency contact on the office voicemail.


2. Know which holidays food are and aren't safe

When it comes to Thanksgiving foods, here’s what you should and shouldn’t feed your pet:


  • Turkey - Turkey is a great source of lean protein that can be shared with your pet. However, you will need to ensure it is properly cooked, and free of fat, skin, and bones. All poultry bones are hazardous because they are hollow and could shatter and cause internal damage.
  • Side Dishes Like Mac & Cheese and Mashed Potatoes - If you are sure your pet is not lactose intolerant, then mac & cheese and mashed potatoes are safe to share. If you are not sure, it is best to just give your dog plain macaroni. Potatoes are a great option to share with your pets, but you will need to be careful about the additional ingredients that go with it. Onions, gravy, and sour cream are big no-nos. Also, only give your dog cheese if you are sure he/she is not lactose-intolerant.
  • Cranberry Sauce - You can feed this to your pet in small amounts, but watch out for the sugar content. Just add a small helping of the sauce in your pet’s food bowl.
  • Green Beans - Plain green beans are actually a very healthy treat for pets. If you are adding green beans in dishes such as a green bean casserole, then be very cautious regarding the other ingredients that you put in.
  • Pumpkin – Pumpkin is among the best natural foods you can feed your pet. For one, it helps your pet deal with digestive issues, including constipation and diarrhea. The great thing is you can serve pumpkin in different forms, i.e. raw, cooked, or pureed. You can even give it as a regular supplement in liquid form, which is convenient and easily storable.

slice of pumpkin pie



  • Chocolate - It's a well-known toxin for pets, especially dogs. During the holidays, baking chocolate is used in so many recipes that it becomes difficult to remember by the time the dishes arrive on the table, especially when it’s brought by your guests. However, you need to make sure your pet doesn’t go snooping around for chocolate.
  • Xylitol - Xylitol is found in artificial sweeteners and is highly poisonous to animals. If you bake anything with xylitol in it, make it a point to keep the dessert as far away from your pet, especially your dog.
  • Alliums - Nothing with alliums (leeks, onions, shallots, scallions, and garlic) should be eaten by your pet.
  • Bread Dough - The yeast in bread dough can cause painful gas and potentially dangerous swelling, if your dog consumes uncooked dough.
  • Grapes - You might not be aware of the fact that grapes, and subsequently raisins, are very toxic to pets and is associated with kidney failure in dogs.
  • Alcohol - Alcohol is certainly a big no for all pets. What you consider a small quantity can be very toxic for a smaller animal. Remember that pets can become a victim of alcohol poisoning even after consuming food items such as rum-soaked fruit cakes or wine sauces

3. Choose Healthy Treats

If you are expecting the whole family over and know you won’t get the time to supervise your pet properly, then a good idea is to offer them healthy treats that will keep them occupied and full. A good option to feed your pet during the holiday season and beyond, are treats that are 100 per cent natural and made from only a few ingredients like real fruits and vegetables with no added preservatives or sugar.

Dog looking up at owner


4. Minimize pet stress

Thanksgiving can be an overwhelming experience for your fur baby, especially if it will be their first time. Take some time to introduce your family members and friends to your pet and give them a little space to bond. If your dog or cat is still nervous or aggressive around people, put him/her in a quiet room or in a crate with their favorite toy. This will help them overcome any emotional stress and also protect our guests from possible distress or injuries. There are a number of homeopathic treatments for pets that are known to calm dogs and cats, such as Thunderspray. If your pet is especially upset by the guests, a trip to the vet might help figure out the reason behind their behaviour.

5. Watch Out For the Holiday Decorations

Special Thanksgiving centerpieces or candles are pretty attractive to pets as well as people. However, pets are more curious than people, thus they call for extra care and attention. Make sure you never leave your pet alone in a spot that has a lit candle. Moreover, keep them away from decoration pieces such as needles, pine cones, and other stuff that can result in the internal blockage or even perforate their intestine if consumed

The holidays are, after all, about spending time with your loved ones. You can involve your pet in the celebration by keeping his or her safety in mind. Your beloved animal will be quite happy about it.


Bio: Brandi Marcene is a writer based in the U.S. with close to a decade's worth of experience. She has written extensively on pets, including authoring several eBooks and blogs on training and communicating with dogs.

*Bernard and Kitty's Waggy Tales articles are for information purposes only and are neither intended as, nor should be substituted for professional advice, or the treatment or diagnosis of any health conditions. Information that is provided in this blog is intended for general knowledge: consult your veterinarian if you have questions about caring for your animal, or about your animal’s health or condition.

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