There’s a reason many veterinarians don’t close their offices on the day after Thanksgiving. It’s one of
their busiest days of the year, mostly because of pets who’ve eaten something they shouldn’t have.

Thanksgiving weekend can also be a stressful time for pets, with unfamiliar visitors coming and going,
upsetting their usual routines.

To make sure you and your pets have a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday, here are some tips from the experts.

1. Don’t feed your pets any Thanksgiving foods that are bad for them.
“The treats that are out, the chocolates. raisins and grapes cooked into food can be toxic,” said Dr. Amanda McNabb,
a vet at an animal emergency clinic in the Seattle area. “Onions and garlic are also pretty toxic to dogs.”

Dogs that eat these foods can develop pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas caused by fatty foods.
The symptoms to watch for include vomiting, diarrhea and the lack of an appetite.

Here’s a list of foods that are bad for pets. Don’t let your pets eat these foods, and keep them
far out of their reach. Tell your guests to ignore your pet’s adorable pleading eyes and resist the urge
to feed them table scraps.

2. Make sure your pet is wearing a collar with an ID tag, and the microchip information is up to date.
With visitors coming and going, pets have more chances of escaping out the front door. An ID tag and microchip
can help you be more quickly reunited in case your pet gets lost.

3. Have distractions ready when visitors come by.
Provide your pet with toys to keep him or her occupied when company comes to visit, suggests.
You might want to keep your pet in a room with the door closed when guests are arriving and leaving. Once your
guests arrive, “Set aside a few blankets on the floor or leave open the door to a quiet room to give your pet
another nook where he or she can sit back and relax,” the ASPCA recommends.

4. Supervise your pet if visitors bring children.
Whether or not your pet is used to being around children, keep a watchful eye on their interactions.
“It is never okay to force a dog to tolerate inappropriate behavior (rough petting, pulling the dog’s ears,
grabbing his tail) from a child; at the same time, it’s not okay to compel a nervous child to interact
with even the most patient dog,” writes certified pet trainer Mikkel Becker on
“If either the child or the dog shows signs of discomfort or displeasure, the situation needs to immediately
be addressed by an adult, using tactics like separation or redirection.”

5. Take out the trash.
During the preparation of the Thanksgiving feast and after everyone is done eating, put trash,
especially turkey bones, in a secured receptacle that is pet proof. Turkey bones shatter easily
and can cause pets to choke.
“If your dog gets into it, he may think he’s hit the jackpot, but all he’ll be winning is health problems
from something as simple as gastric disturbance, vomiting and diarrhea to the worst-case scenario–death,”
warns North Shore Animal League America.

6. Some Thanksgiving foods are actually safe to share with your pet.
The following common Thanksgiving foods are safe and even good for pets, according to

  • Turkey: “Turkey can be a wonderful lean protein to share with your pet,” reports “You will just want to be sure to remove any excess skin or fat, stick with white meat, and make sure there are no bones.”
  • Green beans: As long as they’re not cooked in a casserole with onions, plain green beans are safe and good for your pet.
  • Mashed potatoes: You can let your pet eat these as long as they don’t contain garlic, sour cream, onions or other ingredients that aren’t safe for them.
  • Cranberry sauce: Because it may contain a lot of sugar, allow your pet to eat just a spoonful or so.
  • Macaroni and cheese: If you know your pet can digest dairy (most adult cats are lactose intolerant and cannot), small amounts of mac and cheese are safe.

Photo credit: Rick Cooper