How to Have a Happy, Healthy and Humane Thanksgiving with Your Pets

November 3, 2017

APCC: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is just around the corner! While this food-filled holiday is a joyous time spent with family and friends, the holiday can pose some serious health risks to your pets. Not to mention, hectic grocery stores can leave shoppers frazzled, making it difficult to identify holiday-meal ingredients produced with higher animal-welfare standards.

Not to worry! From your local market to the kitchen table and everything in between—we have you covered. Check out these tips to ensure a happy, more humane holiday, and help keep your pets safe this Thanksgiving.

Turkey-time treats and tricky ingredients.

a dog with a turkey leg

We always recommend sticking to your pet’s regular diet during the holidays, but if you do decide to give your pup a nibble of your Thanksgiving turkey, make sure it’s boneless and well-cooked. Raw or undercooked turkey may contain salmonella bacteria, and poultry bones can be choking hazards. If you feel like treating your pet, try adding a few tasty bites of turkey, sweet potatoes and green beans to their usual dinner with a drizzle of gravy. You can even stuff the Thanksgiving treats in a puzzle toy to keep your pup occupied and content.

Be sure to be mindful of the ingredients and spices that may sneak into your dishes, too. While sage can be a delicious addition to your Thanksgiving stuffing, it (and many other herbs) contain essential oils and resins that can cause gastrointestinal upset and central nervous system depression in pets, especially cats. 

Don’t forget the sweets. 

A kitten with pie

Keep your pet’s sweet tooth at bay by putting all desserts out of paws’ reach. Desserts can contain artificial sweeteners, like xylitol, that can cause low blood sugar and liver damage. Chocolate contains substances called methylxanthines that can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death. Dark chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate as it contains higher levels of methylxanthines. 

Check out the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC)’s full list of ingredients and foods to avoid to ensure you’re not feeding your furry friend anything potentially harmful this holiday season. 

Be mindful of guests and holiday décor.

a sleeping cat

With the commotion of a full house, your pets might enjoy some extra quiet space while company is visiting. Set a few blankets on the floor or leave a bedroom door open to allow your pet some private space to curl up and relax. Also, keep in mind that guests may bring personal items, like medication, with them. Pets ingesting medications is all too common, and can be very dangerous. Make sure that your guests know to keep their personal items up and away from curious pets. 

You’ll also want to make sure that any holiday décor, including floral arrangements and plants, are out of reach. Use the APCC Toxic and Non Toxic Plant Database to stay on top of which plants could prove to be harmful if ingested by your pets. 

Keep animal welfare in mind this Thanksgiving. 

Free roaming turkey

It can be difficult to make it out of stores in one piece during the holidays, never mind navigating the confusing labels found on animal products! Not all food labels are meaningful for animals, so if you plan to purchase meat, eggs or dairy this Thanksgiving, look for the ASPCA-recommended labels Animal Welfare ApprovedCertified Humaneand Global Animal Partnership (Step 2 or higher)

We’ve compiled a list of brands available at many supermarkets across the country that have earned one of more of these welfare certifications. Be sure to check out our turkeychicken and egg label guides to learn how the labels on your food actually impact animal welfare and ensure that you are making welfare-conscious choices this holiday. 

Don’t forget: You have the power to demand better for farm animals this holiday. Here are a few easy ways you can let your grocer know that you want to see more welfare-certified or plant-based alternatives on your store’s shelves. Then sign the Shop With Your Heart pledgeto learn more ways you can be a more conscientious shopper this holiday and every day. 

Don’t forget to take out the trash!

a dog with torn up paper

This may seem like the last thing on your mind on a busy Thanksgiving day, but your garbage can become a buffet for your pet. Bones, chocolate, onions and other holiday fixtures will all find their way into the trash, and they are all hazardous. Throughout the day, be sure to empty your garbage more frequently than usual. 

If you suspect your pet has been exposed to any poisonous substances, contact your veterinarian or call Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) at 888-426-4435 immediately.