Thanksgiving holiday is centered around family and food and, while you consider your pet a family member, inviting your four-legged friend to the holiday feast can put them in danger. This celebration can also pose a threat to your pet’s health in more ways than the food, but with advance planning, you can keep them safe from harm. 

Thanksgiving food dangers for pets

Since Thanksgiving is all about the food—ask your pet!—many holiday hazards are related to your feast. Whether your pet trips you up in the kitchen and you drop a dish, sneaks a bite under the table, or noses through the trash can, the following foods can seriously harm your furry pal:  

  • Turkey — The dish that takes pride of place on your table can also be the most dangerous for your pet, because every part of the turkey can cause a gastrointestinal issue. The skin and dark meat are high in fat and can cause potentially life-threatening pancreatitis, in which the pancreas essentially digests the body, instead of only the food in the intestines. Cooked bones can easily shatter and pierce your pet’s gastrointestinal tract, or become lodged in the intestines, requiring emergency surgical removal. The white meat can also upset your pet’s stomach if consumed in large amounts, coated in seasonings, or drowned in rich gravy.
  • Raisins — You may not think of raisins as part of your Thanksgiving feast, but they are often a key stuffing ingredient. The danger mechanism of raisins and grapes is unknown, but only a small amount can cause kidney failure in pets.
  • Unbaked yeast dough — If your pet eats the yeast dough you had rising on the counter, they could suffer from bloat, gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV), and alcohol poisoning. The yeast ferments inside your pet’s stomach, emitting gases that can cause their stomach to expand and twist, and also releasing alcohol that is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, leading to vomiting, diarrhea, ataxia, and seizures.
  • Garlic, onions, leeks, and chives — Mashed potatoes and stuffing would be bland without these vegetable seasonings. However, chive mashed potatoes shared with your pet have the potential to cause red blood cell damage, which can lead to anemia.
  • Xylitol — After you’ve consumed every Thanksgiving feast course, you still have to find room for dessert. If you’re trying to cut back on calories, you may have baked your pies, cookies, brownies, and other goodies with xylitol, a popular sugar substitute. But, if your pet gets hold of a dessert containing xylitol, they can experience a sharp drop in blood sugar and liver failure.

While the list of foods to avoid may seem all-inclusive, your pet does have options. Pet-friendly Thanksgiving treats include raw fruits and vegetables like baby carrots, green beans, apples, and sweet potato chunks. Pumpkin puree—not the sweetened, spiced pie filling—is another choice your pet will enjoy.

Thanksgiving decor dangers for pets

Thanksgiving doesn’t typically have as much seasonal decor as other holidays, but a few are pet hazards. Table centerpieces likely include a variety of fall flowers, gourds, and candles, which can be dangerous if your pet chews on toxic plants and moldy vegetables, or knocks over a burning candle. Many people also decorate with cornstalks, which are problematic if ingested, as the cobs can lodge in your pet’s gastrointestinal tract. 

Thanksgiving guest dangers for pets

Since Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to gather with friends and family, your house will likely be full of guests. However, your pet may not appreciate all the extras in your home, and can get into trouble with the following situations:

  • Stranger danger — A large crowd of unfamiliar people can unsettle the most laid-back pet, and can downright terrify a nervous cat or dog. Keep your pet safe from stranger danger by creating a haven off-limits to guests.
  • Luggage — If you have company spending the night, your curious pet may nose around in their unattended luggage, potentially ingesting medications, sugar-free gum and candy, or perhaps clothing items. Ensure your guests shut their belongings behind a closed door, or hang bags out of your pet’s reach.
  • Open doors — As guests arrive, your overexcited pet may see an opportunity to slip out the open door and run off, darting into traffic, or becoming confused and lost. If your pet is prone to door-dashing, block their access with a baby gate, or confine them to their crate until all your guests have arrived. 

If an accident befalls your furry pal this Thanksgiving, your Star of Texas Veterinary Hospital team is here for you. Contact us if your pet takes off with the turkey leg, sneaks into the trash, or chomps on your cornucopia centerpiece.