If you’re reading this article, there’s a pretty good chance you share your home with an animal companion – or maybe several. And it’s likely that they’re right at the top of your gratitude list this Thanksgiving.
We get so much unconditional love from our pets. And they ask so little in return. Whether with a look, a sound, a lick, or an eager face greeting us at the door, animals have their own special ways of letting us know they love us. Even when we’re rushing to get somewhere, or returning home tired and out-of-sorts, feeling sad or happy or stressed or angry, they’re always there for us.
So let’s make sure we’re always there for them – and that we do everything we can to keep them safe, comfortable, and healthy. Here are some suggestions for keeping pets safe during the Thanksgiving holiday.
Don’t let your pets eat foods that can make them sick.
Sure, you and your dinner guests might want to share tasty morsels with them, but certain foods aren’t safe for pets, or aren’t part of their normal diet, and can cause stomach upset, or worse.
Foods to avoid feeding your pets include fatty foods, like turkey skin and gravy. Foods that contain onions, garlic, chocolate, raisins, and Xylitol (a sugar substitute), alcohol, or yeast (as in raw bread dough) can be toxic to pets. And make sure your pets avoid any foods that have bones, which can cause choking or other obstruction.
Read more about foods that are dangerous to pets.
Instead of sharing table scraps with your pets, consider preparing them a special holiday feast all their own. Use healthy pet treats, sweet potato, green beans or peas to dress up their usual meals. Chew bones made for pets, or a chew or puzzle toy stuffed with peanut butter or pet-safe veggies or pet treats make delightful diversions. Your pets will remain joyfully occupied while you and your guests enjoy your meal at the humans’ table.
Keep an eye on your pets at all times.
This is especially important if you have guests arriving and leaving throughout the day, when an open door can provide an unwanted escape hatch for your pets. A watchful eye is also recommended during food preparation and dinner, when pets are more likely to eat something they shouldn’t.
Be sure to secure trash and discarded food and food containers safely away from pets. A tightly secured trash bag placed in a closed trash container stored where pets can’t get into them will prevent unwanted exploration by mischievous paws.
If your pet should chow down on something off-limits, watch for danger signs of upset, include vomiting, diarrhea, pain, sudden changes in behavior, or depression. If you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 or the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661. Note that consultation fees may apply. If your pet becomes ill, get them to an emergency vet right away.
Unless your pets are completely comfortable with visitors, consider crating them or, better yet, let them spend their day in a separate room with their favorite toys, away from unfamiliar noise and activity that might make them anxious. Some pet owners use a pheromone diffuser, such as Adaptil for dogs or Feliway for cats to help calm their pets. Playing classical music or other soothing tunes can also help pets remain chill.
Keep pets away from lit candles and decorative plants and other holiday decorations that could prove harmful to them if ingested. Check out the ASPCA’s list of plants that are toxic to pets.
Year-round, make sure your pets have proper identification, including ID tags and microchips with up-to-date contact information. As noted earlier, an open door could turn a joyous celebration into a frantic search for an escaped pet.
Traveling during the holidays?
To travel with pets or leave them home with a sitter or in boarding is a decision pet owners confront often, and especially around holidays. Whatever you decide, there are steps you can take to keep your pet safe wherever they are.
Use common sense when traveling with pets.
- Never leave them alone in a vehicle, regardless of the weather.
- Make sure to use a secure harness or carrier when traveling by car.
- Never transport a pet in the bed of a truck, or unsecured in an automobile.
- Make sure pets have proper ID and microchips with your up-to-date contact information.
- Have a list of veterinary providers in the location you are traveling to in case your pet becomes ill or injured during your trip.
- Air travel can put pets at risk, especially short-nosed dogs, such as Pugs, Boston Terriers, and other breeds. Speak with your veterinarian about this, and other concerns when traveling with your pets.
Pets traveling across state lines or international borders likely require a health certificate from your veterinarian. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) offers good information and advice to pet owners looking to include pets in their travels.
If you decide to leave your pet at home with a sitter, make sure it’s a trusted friend or relative, or a sitter who comes highly recommended by pet owners you know. If you need to board your pet while you travel, your vet might be a good choice. Check out this article from PetMD for guidance in choosing a boarding facility.
|Give Thanks By Giving Back|
As we give thanks for our blessings this season, consider the dogs, cats, rabbits, and other animals in shelters who don’t have someone to share the holiday with. Have you thought about volunteering to walk dogs, socialize cats, or help out in other ways at a local shelter?
Donating some of your time to help your community’s homeless animals is a meaningful expression of gratitude, and one that can have a tremendous impact on you and the animals. Some shelters aren’t equipped to accommodate volunteers on holidays, but some might be delighted to have an extra pair of hands. Check out our list of shelters and rescue groups for some possibilities located near you.
We Thank You, Our Supporters
We at the Mayor’s Alliance consider it a privilege to carry on our mission of providing information, resources, and guidance to the New York City pet community. Helping pets and the people who love them is what we are all about. Our ability to continue doing this work is possible because of our loyal and dedicated supporters. We, and the animals of New York City, say “thank you” for being there for us.
We hope you will continue to travel on this journey with us by supporting us with your generous donation.
Wishing you and your family a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!