Turkey Day and Pets

Thanksgiving day is nearly here in the US and we would like to pass on some information and tips to make sure you, your human family and your pet family all have a happy and safe day.

First, we recommend you review our pre-Halloween post Kids Treats Are Dangerous Treats as everything in there still applies. And while you probably won't be answering the door with treats, they are often left unattended in dishes on coffee tables during more traditional family holidays. Better to keep the chocolates in a jar or pass them around by hand then to leave your dog such nearby temptation. Remind younger visitors as well not to pass treats or anything else to your dog or cat.

Speaking of children, if you are expecting many little ones, do consider the temperament of your pets. If your cat does not like to have its stomach rubbed and reacts by biting or clawing, you really should make this clear to the kids.

Ground rules may also be required for playing with the dog(s). While collies are most prone to herding and chasing, just about any dog can get a bit worked up with children running around, especially out of doors. If your dog is prone to that behavior, you may want to use a crate until the tornado of kids has wound down. Toys may also be better put away to avoid any chance of taunting or possessive reactions.

But of course, Thanksgiving is all about the food and many families take this one day to let their furry friends partake in the same feast as the humans. We've done that many times over the years and just have a few cautions and warnings to pass on:


  • Onions and garlic are dangerous, do not give to pets. Remember that side dishes such as stuffing often are made with onions. Cooking does not lessen the risk!
  • Bones*. Cooked chicken and turkey bones can be very dangerous as they are sharp, may splinter and can pierce organs and the digestive track. Make sure you keep an eye on those left overs!


  • Don't over do it! Remember that your pet is not use to a significant amount of people food and you may regret giving too much if they vomit or get diarrhea
  • If you feed your cat or dog dry food, mix some in with the good stuff, it will help with digestion and you can give less turkey and bits
  • Trim the skin and fat off any meat. A little fat is OK but too much will not have a good outcome

With just a bit of forethought, Thanksgiving will be a wonderful day for pets and pet parents.

* If you believe your pet may have ingested cooked bones, first make sure they are not choking - beyond the obvious gagging, look for lip licking, drinking excessive water or pacing. If they have already swallowed the bones you will need to keep a close eye on their condition for the next 48 to 72 hours. In particular, look for difficulty defecating, blood in the stool, swollen stomach and lethargy. If you see any of those, head to the vet right away. To help in passing the bones you can add a little bit of cooked rice or bread to their regular food but don't go overboard.

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