We’ve heard the stories of the dog who stole the Thanksgiving turkey, or the cat who licked all the cream off the pie. Who can blame them? That’s exactly what we plan to do. But in addition to potentially spoiling the holiday dinner, that indulgence can be dangerous to your pets. For one thing, just like us, their eyes might be too big for their stomach. Overeating on the holidays can have the same effect for your pet as it does for you. Vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pains, bloating. There’s a fun way to spend the holiday!
More importantly, many of the foods are outright dangerous to pets. For example, many seasonings, such as onion and garlic, are poisonous to animals. The small bones from turkey can get lodged in the throat. Chocolate and xylitol, an artificial sweetener used in some desserts, can make pets very ill. Certain types of nuts, alcohol, grapes and raisins, all of those are dangerous for pets to eat.
So how do you include your pets in the celebration, but keep them safe at the same time?
Limit temptation by limiting access. Do what you can to keep your pets out of the kitchen. They can’t eat what they can’t get. If you can’t block access, keep food off of the counters, or put covers on everything. This is true after dinner as well. Make sure you throw away any garbage, seal the bag tight, and put it outside in a sealed trash can (protect those outdoor animals as well).
Provide an alternative. Have high value treats on hand for you and your guests to give the pets. Good dog treats, or bits of hot dog or cooked (unseasoned) chicken work well. Explain to your guests that you would prefer they not give table food, but they can give the occasional special treat instead. Make sure they’re cut up small so that they can get a lot in one day without getting sick.
Remove the temptation. If your pets are bothering your guests during dinner, or won’t leave you alone in the kitchen, consider putting them in a different room for a while. Give them a frozen Kong filled with peanut butter so that they’ll have something to keep them busy while you eat. They might even appreciate the quiet time.
Lessen the excitement. Some pets get super excited by all of the added activity at the holidays. Before your guests arrive, make sure that your pets have already gotten plenty of exercise and play time. That may help them stay a little calmer once the festivities begin.
Have a sense of humor. No holiday is ever perfect. The most important thing is to spend time with the family, and that includes your pet family, too.