As Thanksgiving draws near, it’s a good time for pet owners to prepare a holiday plan to keep pets healthy, happy, and safe.
It starts with food. While overindulging can be simply uncomfortable for humans, the reaction for pets who have been giving the wrong kinds of human foods can be much more dramatic.
“The main reason we see pets on Thanksgiving weekend is for pancreatitis. Either they were fed foods that are too fatty in content or the got into the garbage,” said Evelyn Vega, veterinarian and owner of Happy Pets Veterinary Center in Valencia. “Symptoms of pancreatitis include vomiting with or without diarrhea, some lethargy, and maybe not wanting to eat or not being able to hold food down.”
So what is a pet owner to do when their adorable dog or cat is waiting patiently and staring longingly as the family eats their holiday meal? Vega suggested preparing foods like raw or steamed veggies and unseasoned grilled or poached lean meat to give to pets
“I always tell my clients they can feed human food, as long as it is healthy. Nothing rich or spicy,” Vega said. “Junk food for us is junk food for them, so if you feel guilty eating it, then it should not be fed to your pets.”
Lean white meat turkey is fine to give to pets, Vega continued. Dark meat and gravy, both of which are fatty, is not. You can also purchase pet specific treats to give them on holidays or find an online recipe to make your own.
“Really, dogs don’t know it’s Thanksgiving, so they will be happy even if they get their regular treats,” Vega said. “But if you want to do something special, you can add a small amount of plan white rice mixed with plain cooked white meat chicken or turkey and even add a little pumpkin puree.”
Another consideration to be careful with this season, now that marijuana is legal, is the possibility of pets getting into edibles made with the drug, such as brownies or cookies.
“Pet owners need to treat these as prescription medications and keep them out of reach of pets and small children,” she said. “If you give edibles or even just plain chocolate to someone with a pet, don’t place the gift under the tree. Dogs can still smell that there are treats there despite the wrapping and get into it.”
Since Thanksgiving is often the precursor to putting up a holiday tree and other festive décor, Vega had some additional pet safety tips:
Keep chocolate and all candies stored in places that pets cannot access
Make sure ornaments and tinsel are kept high up on the tree so pets cannot reach them, as both are choking hazards. Same rule applies for any holiday decorations and poinsettia plants
Cover potentially toxic holiday tree water so that pets are not able to drink it
If you have younger dogs or cat that are bound to get into things, Vega suggested doing something a little different.
“I would recommend to set up the tree and decorations in a room where your pets do not have access to,” she said.
For pets that get anxious with all the holiday hustle and bustle, there are natural supplements and pet products such as Rescue Remedy, Thundershirts, lavender oil, composure treats, or pheromone sprays and diffusers that can help
Some pets may require a stronger solution.
“If your pet’s anxiety is beyond the natural supplements, then your veterinarian can give you a prescription for some anxiety medications such as valium or Xanax,” Vega said.