Pet Talk: Keeping your pet safe on Thanksgiving | VailDaily.com

Pet Talk: Keeping your pet safe on Thanksgiving

Madeline Wheeler
Special to the Daily

One of the busiest times of year is upon us, especially when it comes to traveling, cooking delectable spreads of food, and spending time with family. Thanksgiving is one of the initial holidays leading up to the new year, and to ensure that this remains a heartwarming celebration, it is important to be aware of hazards to your pets, such as holiday foods, transportation, and visitors in the home in order to keep them safe and healthy.

As delicious as our Thanksgiving feasts may be, keeping your pets away from foods that could be dangerous for them is imperative. Many of the dishes cooked on this particular holiday contain high amounts of fat, which are difficult for our pets to digest. This can cause a condition called pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) that can end up becoming life-threatening in some cases.

Common signs of pancreatitis include vomiting, diarrhea, hunched back, a painful/distended abdomen, and lethargy. Additionally, many foods that people normally eat without issue can be toxic to animals, including onions, grapes, raisins, and chocolate. If you believe your pet is having signs of pancreatitis or has ingested a toxic substance, you should contact your veterinarian and/or Poison Control as soon as possible.

Many of our furry friends at home are notorious for getting into things they shouldn’t. Most commonly, we throw leftover scraps into a garbage can or leave food out on the table that emits an enticing aroma and can be irresistible for our dogs and cats. Ensuring that the garbage is taken out and not left for curious creatures to devour can help prevent the ingestion of objects such as turkey carcasses and bones or strings and wrappings from packaging that may cause an obstruction in the gastrointestinal tract.

Another aspect of the Thanksgiving holiday is the excitement that revolves around visits from out-of-town friends and family. This can be a stressful time for your pet, and steps can be taken to help reduce the anxiety that can be induced by visiting a new place or having a large number of new people in the home for a few days.

Keeping your pet in a room in which they are comfortable with familiar toys, blankets, etc. can help them stay calm, and if you believe your pet may need additional anxiety management, talk to your veterinarian about supplements and anxiolytic medications that might be appropriate for your dog or cat. Furthermore, if you have visitors that are immune-compromised or you have exotic pets, it can be very important to keep your pets in a different part of the house and inform your visitors of the pets that you have so that they can take any precautions they may need to keep themselves safe and to prevent undue stress.

Amidst the hubbub of people entering and exiting the house and visitors being unfamiliar with your usual routine, many pets may make a break for it even if they are comfortable around new people. If you are traveling for the holiday, microchipping and proper tag identification is an excellent way to help your furry friend return to you safely if they sneak out during festivities.

Checking with your airline and veterinarian before traveling with your pet is crucial in order to ensure you have the correct documentation (health certificate if you are traveling out of state/internationally) and required vaccinations for air travel. If you are traveling by car, make sure your pet is restrained safely in a crate or carrier away from airbags. This will keep your pet safe in the event of a sudden stop or swerve, and will keep the driver from becoming distracted by an unrestrained animal in the car. Traveling with your pet means packing for your pet in addition to yourself — this includes food, medications, documentation, and medical records in case your pet becomes lost or injured during your trip.

Thanksgiving is a holiday many people look forward to as the year draws to a close. In addition to remembering these quick tips, keeping in contact with your veterinarian for any questions you may have about toxic foods, travel, or stress reduction will help keep all the members of your family safe and sound during the quickly approaching holiday activities.

Madeline Wheeler is a veterinarian at Mountain Animal Hospital Center and Mobile Veterinarian in Eagle.