Americans have been celebrating Thanksgiving since the 1600s, but pets still can encounter many problems on this traditional holiday. Our Columbia Pike Animal Hospital team wants to provide information about potential Thanksgiving pet tribulations and suggest ways to protect your four-legged family member.

Darla, a 4-year-old dachshund, can’t work out what is happening—her home has been invaded by strangers who are everywhere! She is upset and stressed, and wants them to go away.

Columbia Pike Animal Hospital (CPAH): Darla’s experience isn’t unusual. Many pets are anxious around crowds and strangers. Steps to reduce the effect on your pet include:

  • Create a pet-safe haven — Designate a room in your home that is off limits to your guests, where your stressed pet can escape. Provide essentials such as bedding, water, treats, and toys, and ensure your pet knows the room is available. If your pet is shy or prone to anxiety, consider confining them to this area during the Thanksgiving feast, leaving music playing to help mask the crowd noise. Remember to check on your pet occasionally to ensure they aren’t upset.
  • Consider anxiety relief — If you know your pet suffers with anxiety, ask our veterinary team if an anti-anxiety medication or supplement can help them cope on Thanksgiving day.

Felix, a 6-year-old domestic shorthair cat, is annoyed. His owner is hosting a party, and all he wants to do is sleep. When his owner isn’t looking, he slips through the open door as an unsuspecting guest is coming inside. He will find a suitable place to nap away from the craziness.

CPAH: Many pets go missing on holidays trying to escape the hubbub. Steps to protect your pet from getting lost include:

  • Posting signs — Post signs on your entryways asking your guests to watch for your pet and ensure they don’t sneak outside.
  • Microchipping your pet — Microchipping your pet greatly increases their chances of being returned should they go missing. Also, ensure your pet always wears a well fitted collar and identification tags with your current contact information.
  • Taking a picture of your pet — Take a current photo of your pet so you can post the picture in your neighborhood if they go missing.

Marlo, a 2-year-old black Labrador retriever, is extremely excited. Many new people are visiting him and his family, and they are all eating delectable food. He is eyeing a cake that he knows will taste delicious and satisfy his sweet tooth.

CPAH: The Thanksgiving celebration revolves around food, but many dishes commonly served during the feast are toxic to pets. Common problematic foods include turkey skin and bones, onions, grapes and raisins, xylitol, and chocolate. Steps to prevent your pet from ingesting a toxin include:

  • Notify your guests — Ensure your guests know that your pet can’t have people food, no matter how much they beg.
  • Monitor the room — Monitor the room for unattended plates and dropped food and discard items before they are ingested by your pet.
  • Seal garbage receptacles — Place all garbage in sealed receptacles that your pet can’t access and potentially ingest a toxic item.
  • Confine your pet — If your pet is hard to control, consider confining them during your Thanksgiving feast to prevent an emergency situation.
  • Know who to call — If your pet ingests a toxin, contact Columbia Pike Animal Hospital or Animal Poison Control for expert advice on how to proceed.

Cassie, a 3-year-old German shepherd, is intrigued by her owner, who is decorating the home with odd items. Cassie will definitely investigate the mystery pieces.

CPAH: Pets explore the world with their mouth and paws, and certain common Thanksgiving decorations can be dangerous for pets. Items to avoid include:

  • Lit candles — A paw swipe or tail wag can result in a fire. Leave your candles unlit, place them where your pet cannot reach them, or use battery-operated flames.
  • Small objects — Pets can ingest small decorative objects and suffer a gastrointestinal obstruction.
  • Seasonal plants — Seasonal plants, such as autumn crocuses, lilies, and chrysanthemums, are toxic to pets. Ensure any decorative foliage in your home is pet safe.

Otis, an 8-year-old Siamese, is frightened. His owners are nowhere to be found, and a stranger is inside his house, calling his name. Otis decides to hide under the bed until the stranger leaves.

CPAH: If you are traveling for the holiday, ensure you introduce your pet to your pet sitter, so they aren’t afraid when the sitter comes to care for them. Other steps to keep your pet safe if you are traveling include:

  • Securing your pet — If you are traveling with your pet by vehicle, ensure they are properly restrained. Small pets should travel in a pet carrier, stowed in a stable place away from air bags, while larger pets should be secured with a safety harness.
  • Planning for emergencies — Research veterinary urgent care and emergency hospitals along your route and at your final destination, in case your pet experiences a veterinary emergency during your travels.
  • Keeping your pet with you — If you are flying with your pet, ensure they can stay with you in the cabin, because the cargo area is not a safe travel place for pets.

Thanksgiving is exciting, and knowing potential pet problems should help you avoid a veterinary emergency. If your pet is prone to anxiety, contact our Columbia Pike Animal Hospital team, so we can determine if an anti-anxiety medication or supplement can help them handle the Thanksgiving festivities.