Tips to keep your pet safe this Thanksgiving weekend

by | General Pet Care |

The Thanksgiving weekend is almost here! We can’t wait to enjoy the holiday with our pets. As we prepare for the big events, here are some tips to keep in mind from our blog, PET HEALTH CORNER: Thanksgiving Pet Safety.

Food Dangers

If you’re planning on letting your pet eat off the table, Dave Wilson, director of Shelter Health and Wellness for the Ontario SPCA and retired vet, says this should not be introduced on holidays like Thanksgiving. He says human food should generally only be introduced after a conversation with your veterinarian.

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photo credit: cseeman Flapjack and the Thanksgiving Leftovers via photopin (license)

“Any holiday isn’t the time to introduce this new food,” says Wilson, because outside of normal routines it can be difficult to watch for negative side-effects.

Wilson says it’s important to tell company not to feed your pet from the table too. If concerned they won’t comply, he suggests having your pet in a different room at meal time, with treats and some of their favourite toys in with them.

“We try to make it, not a punishment, but a happy event for them too,” he says.

Food from the Thanksgiving table may have too much fat, protein or sugar, and Wilson says this can overload your pet’s digestive system, resulting in inflamed organs, vomiting, diarrhea, or worse.

“A lot of times people think, ‘But I only gave him a little piece.’ Alright, but there are eight people at the table and all of them are using the same excuse, meanwhile the dog’s eaten a whole turkey leg,” he says.

True poisons Wilson says to look out for are chocolate, raisins, and grapes, that all have strong poisoning side effects for pets. He says if given these treats, wait to open them until you are sure your pet won’t get into it.


Thanksgiving decorations can also pose a danger to your pet, according to Wilson. Things such as corn stocks or dried gourds can cause digestive problems if ingested, potentially leading to blockages that require surgery to remove. Plastic artificial leaves can be even worse, he says, because they are petroleum bi-products, toxic for pets or humans if ingested.

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photo credit: Ken Whytock Photo Series: Still Life: “Autumn Gourds” via photopin (license)

“You could’ve really just avoided that by placing anything like that out of reach of them, or don’t put them out at a time or a place where they can have access to them,” says Wilson.

Corn stocks can also be dangerous for cats who want to climb them, risking a rough fall, or the stock landing in a candle, or something else flammable, Wilson says. Candles generally, he says, are not a good idea for pet owners.

“If you’ve got pets, think about why you need or want to have candles around anyway,” he says.

Wilson says pets have a tendency of knocking things over, whether with a wagging dog tail, or a curious cat. He says to consider battery-powered candles, that can be just as pretty, but less dangerous.


If visitors are staying the night Thanksgiving weekend, Wilson says it’s better to make the rule to keep pets out of guest bedrooms, in case your company isn’t comfortable with animals. He says it’s also good to be generally aware of how your pet responds to strangers, especially when they come in making a lot of noise.

“How do you think the dog sees that in their world?” says Wilson, adding the dog may get excited, and then be confused when they get in trouble because of it.

Wilson says to give your pet a quiet room to wait in while Thanksgiving company arrives, always including treats and toys for their comfort.

“It may be better to let your animal out of their room of their crate once that excitement is over,” he says.

Vet Holiday

Wilson says pet owners need to remember vets may not be open Thanksgiving weekend. This means owners need to know what number to call in case of an emergency with their pet.

“Have the information handy in advance, so you’re prepared,” he says.

From everyone at the Ontario SPCA – Happy Thanksgiving!

For every animal you save

For every animal you save, every animal who feels loved in their last moments, and for everything else you do; thank you and God Bless.