Thanksgiving Preparation Tips for Your Pets

Thanksgiving Preparation Tips
Think ahead to the day after Thanksgiving. Where would you rather be:

  • Hanging out with family with your dog sleeping on the floor next to you
  • Hitting the Black Friday sales
  • At the vet’s office praying that your dog survives or searching the neighborhood because he escaped

I know where I’d rather be — and the last option doesn’t even come close!

It’s always better to be safe than sorry and you can avoid tragedy by preparing your home with a few Thanksgiving Preparation Tips.

Dogs like routines and Thanksgiving is definitely not routine. People are coming and going, meals are prepared and eaten at odd hours and in normally unused rooms. There’s a lot of tempting food sitting around just at nose level. Strange people with loud voices are petting and, sometimes, poking — it’s very stressful for your four-footed friends.

You’re going to have a lot going on, especially if you are cooking a big dinner. But don’t neglect your four-footed family members! Keep their regular schedule as much as possible. Keep things as normal as possible. Keep food and water bowls in their regular locations — this helps them know everything is OK and they are safe. Check the water bowl often to be sure they have water – you never know if it’s been tipped over or dirtied. If walks or exercise is part of their routine, stick to it if possible. If you can’t walk or exercise him, look into getting a family member, neighbor, or a dog-walker to do it instead. Give them lots of attention and play with them before your guests arrive – tire them out, but don’t go overboard. If your pet is used to eating at a certain time, make sure that routine is kept — even if you have to feed them in a guest-free area. With all the changes in the normal routine for this holiday, your pets can get overly excited or nervous. Dogs who are on the nervous side may get aggressive because the added stress simply “puts them over the edge.”

Dogs tell us when they are stressed. We often ignore or misinterpret what they are saying because we expect them to react like people. For example, most dogs don’t like to be hugged. To them, it’s a threat. What do children, especially little girls, LOVE to do to dogs? – hug them. Dogs pant when they are stressed or excited, not just when they are hot. If your dog is panting and drooling, they may need a time-out in a quiet place so they have time to de-stress. Keep an eye out for stress factors and remind guests that you pet should be allowed to move around freely and away from small children as needed.

Prepare a dog Safe-Room away from all the commotion with his bed, water and soft music. Give him a new treat and don’t forget to give him access to his favorite toys and chews. He may need to chew, both to relieve his stress and for the fun of chewing. He may need more water than usual if he’s stressed. Check his safety room water bowl as well as his regular water bowl to be sure he has plenty of clean, fresh water. And make this Safe-Room a guest-free zone … give your pet a safe place they can escape from all the commotion and the attentions of small children.

Keep dogs out of kitchen, if at all possible! If your dog stays out of the kitchen, this prevents:

  • Burns from hot liquids or food
  • Injury from something falling on your dog such as knives or pots
  • Your tripping over him

If you are frying the turkey or grilling any meats, keep your dog away from the equipment where he could accidentally get severely burned.

Keep all pot and pan handles on the stove turned inward.

Keep food away from those sneaky doggie thieves by covering plates & bowls and moving them out of reach and away from the edges of counters.

Getting Ready for Thanksgiving for PetsAfter you’ve cooked the meal and before you sit down to eat, contain all food and food-related garbage. Put something heavy such as a brick on top of your garbage can outside to ensure the lid will not come off. If you have a lot of other trash, then put it in your closed garage or storage area away from your dog until garbage collection day.

These cooking items can be swallowed by your pet and get stuck in the intestinal track causing a blockage or perforation:

  • Baking string or mesh (that you use on a turkey or a roast)
  • Paper towels
  • Plastic bags or shrink-wrap covering
  • Plastic wrap
  • Pop up timers
  • Roasting bags
  • Skewers
  • Tin foil
  • Toothpicks
  • Wax paper

Tell your guests that they should not give your pet any table food — before, during or after the meal. Giving him the wrong foods can upset his stomach, leading to best case scenario – diarrhea and/or throwing up; and worst case scenario – a trip to the emergency vet and/or death. In fact, the safest place for him may be in that dog Safe-Room away from all the commotion of football games, kids running around and too many loud conversations.

Even though you may think your pet is a member of the family who should be included in the celebrations, your pet may have other ideas. Providing them with a safe place to hide during this departure from their routine is the best Thanksgiving gift you can give them.

Finally, just for peace of mind, be sure you have your vet’s phone number handy as well as the name and address of the nearest emergency veterinary hospital and possibly, the number for a pet poison hotline.