Thanksgiving Can Be Super Stressful For Your Pets — Here’s How To Keep Them Safe

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With Thanksgiving literally right around the corner, you might be thinking about traveling, family plans, and what dish to bring to dinner. Keeping pets safe during the Thanksgiving holiday, however, is also so important to consider. Holiday foods and drinks can pose potential dangers for your fur baby, and your pets might need help with holiday anxiety, too. While they might not need to figure out how to roast the perfect turkey, your little fuzzy one might be dealing with lots of new people in your home, a boarding situation, travel, or just a general disruption to their routine.

Holidays can be overwhelming for everyone including your pets. Disruption to a pet’s schedule, less attention and unfamiliar noises, smells and people can all lead to behavior issues," veterinarian Dr. Evan Antin tells Bustle.

Keeping up with your pet's regular routine, including exercise, is also important for managing any potential holiday-induced anxiety they might be feeling. Giving lots of affection also helps, Animal Medical Center's Dr. Carly Fox tells Bustle via email. "Make sure to give your cat or dog attention as you're prepping or hosting," she says. "Physical contact often helps calm them and makes them feel included. Just like people, dogs and cats often respond positively to touch which helps relieve their stress and anxiety."

So, when planning for the holidays this year, make sure that your furry family members are covered. Here are seven ways to keep your fur baby healthy and happy this Thanksgiving holiday.


Know That Table Scraps Can Be Risky

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While a small taste of mashed potatoes or a tiny bite of well-cooked turkey is probably okay for your pet, Thanksgiving table scraps are usually best left out of your fur baby's food bowl, the ASPCA says. Raw and undercooked turkey can contain salmonella, which is potentially harmful to both people and pets. "Chocolate, onions, garlic, grapes, macadamia nuts and high fat foods — especially animal products," like pork should not be given to pets, Dr. Antin notes. Also, keep in mind that poultry bones can be a choking hazard for cats and dogs.

The ASPCA notes that it's best to keep pets on their regular diet during the holidays, but if you want to give them a special treat while you and the rest of the family feast, you can stuff a puzzle food toy with their food or favorite treats. Plain cooked pumpkin, green beans, and small amounts of plain turkey are safe for pets. Just make sure to avoid foods that are super sugary or rich, and keep your fur babies away from raw batters and bread dough, which can pose serious health risks, according to the ASPCA.


Update Tags & Microchips

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Petfinder says that making sure that your pet's tags and microchip are updated is key to pet safety during the holidays. With so much travel, or guests coming in and out of your home, it's important to do all that you can to keep your pet from getting lost. Microchips can help you find your pet quickly if they do run out the door, for example. You can get your pet microchipped at your vet, and local shelters may also be able to help.


Travel Safely

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The AVMA says that traveling with your pet during the holidays may require a health certificate from your vet, especially if you're crossing state lines or international borders. A health certificate proves that your pet is healthy, and up-to-date on any vaccines required by law. The AMVA also suggests that pets always be restrained when traveling by car, and don't leave them alone in your vehicle. If you decide to travel with your fur baby this year, make sure to pack them a bag with medications, food, treats, and anything else that they might need on the road.

"If your pet is not a seasoned traveler," says Dr. Fox, "try shorter car rides [before your trip] to get them used to the drive." Dr. Fox also suggests getting any anti-nausea medications or sedatives for your pet from your vet, as over-the-counter medications are not recommended.


Find Safe Pet Sitters

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Petfinder suggests that if you're traveling without your pet for the holidays, make sure to make safe arrangements for leaving them at home. Apps like Rover can help you find trustworthy pet sitters in your area, and you can also use a local boarding facility for your pup. If you can get a boarding recommendation from your vet, or an animal-loving friend, even better.


Prioritize Pet Safety At Parties

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If you have a door-dasher, or a pet who's anxious at parties, keep them in a quiet room with the door closed when guests come over. A soft bed, some treats, and a quiet space can help your pet stay calm. Treats can also help distract them (and reward them for being very good boys and girls) while guests are in town. Also, make sure to talk to your guests about how to best interact with your fur baby when they come over. If you have a shy or anxious pet, saying something like, "Please don't pet Max until I've introduced you," or "Please don't let kitty outside," can help you avoid negative interactions or accidents.


Supervise Human Kiddos & Pets

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Make sure to always supervise visits when pets and children are together. Teach kids how to safely and gently interact with pets, and keep your pets away from children if kids make them nervous (or vice versa). "Always supervise interactions between your pet and a child, no matter what your pet's disposition is," says Dr. Fox. When in doubt, play it safe.


Keep Pets Away From Trash

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Remember to keep an eye on the trash when fur babies are lurking. Sharp bones, leftover alcohol, and foods toxic to pets — like chocolate — can all get snapped up quick by a mischief-making pupper.


Since the holidays can pose some potential dangers for your pets, prevention and awareness are key. By taking some preliminary precautions, talking to your guests about how best to interact with your pet, and doing your best to uphold their normal routine, your pet will get through the Thanksgiving festivities just fine.