This poor holiday generally gets quite overlooked. Midnight All Hallows Eve out go the Halloween stuff and in comes Christmas! I would really like to see more thanking going around for all the many blessings we have. Especially our pets.

Thanksgiving is a time of family and bounty from a hopefully great harvest season. All the crops are in. The winter chill is in the air. It’s a perfect time to sit with a warm drink, thick blanket and just be with your loved ones, including your pets. We really should celebrate the simple things more often and what better way to thank your pet, then to protect them now, before the crazy holiday season starts.

Take a moment and just look at your fur friend.

Are they relaxed?

As a person with anxiety, I can tell you how stressful even beautiful holidays can be. If your pet is already showing signs of anxiety or depression, the sooner you address these things, the happier everyone will be. There are jackets and supplements you can get your fur friends to help them be more self-assured and confident. There are also medications.

  • Don’t hesitate to ask your veterinary staff about your options and to be honest with us when we prescribe something. All pets are different. What works for one will not always work for another. Anxiety is not an easy fix. If something isn’t working, please let us know so we can continue to work with your fur friend to increase their quality of life.
  • Don’t hesitate to contact a trainer. Sometimes to be less anxious, you just have to understand what is going on. Training is a language you teach your pet so they understand what it is you want and what they are allowed to do. It is confusing and stressful to be allowed to tackle you when you come in but not your frail great-great-grandmother. Easy commands like ‘Stay’ and ‘Down’ can go a long way to help your pet know what they can do and not be shocked when they are being scolded for a normally ordinary thing.

Are they healthy?

As soon as it starts getting cold right up to the time when the warmth returns, elderly and infirm patients start to decline. It is true in human medicine and animal. Winter is a tough time for medical professionals. It tests you in ways that are very uncomfortable and can lead to massive depression to see so many clients say goodbye to so many best friends that are just too sick to carry on. Most veterinarians recommend yearly appointments. I’d really love exams to be bi-annual. A straight health check in the fall-winter with blood work and then a straight prevention check in the spring with vaccinations and fecal tests.

How’s their weight?

Could they gain a few pounds or lose some weight? Winter can push a pet either direction depending on your fur friends appetite and activity level. This would be a great time to help them find their healthy weight.

Are they social?

Social butterflies are going to love this time of year. Guest dropping by to give gifts and mingle is right down their ally. If they aren’t so social, make sure they have a safe space to retreat to when over stimulated so they can take a break when they need it.

Now Make a Plan:

I will never forget what we learned about Thanksgiving day in Veterinary Technician school. Can you guess what it was?

Salmonella and Food Bourn Illness!

Thats right. Thanksgiving is full to the tippy tops with stomach issues and it’s not always from gluttony! Before you start handling raw meats and vegetables, it’s a good time to brush up on your food handling skills.

  • Handle your Turkey Wisely!:
    • Thaw it in your fridge away from other foods: Safer for you and less available for your counter surfing pet to snag and run off with. You think raw meat is gross? Try having it rubbed all over your house! Clean up any drippings.
    • Keep all raw meat and supplies in one area of the kitchen and disinfect that spot and yourself once your turkey is safely in the oven. Do not put meat near raw vegetables or other things that will not be cooked! Again, safe for you and less chance you will turn away a moment and have that turkey stolen by lightning dogs. Lightning dog can also be crated or romp outside during this phase.
    • Put all waste in a bag. Tie the bag. Take the bag to the secured outside trash. Wash your hands.
  • Don’t share food with your pet!
    • As a vet tech I put my foot down: NO HUMAN FOOD EVER!
    • And then as pet owner I’ll just advise:
      • Only give SMALL amounts of cooked meats. Table scraps, especially ham and other high fat foods, can and will cause pancreatitis or even poisoning! Pet emergency rooms are full of hospitalized pets that were given human food as a treat and got very sick because of it.
      • Raw vegetables like carrots, broccoli and beans can also be shared in small amounts. They can also be a good distraction to keep your pet away from the tables.
      • NO RAW MEAT. Visit the salmonella link above if you have questions.
      • No deserts. N0 onions. No garlic. No stuffing. No mashed potatoes (full of milk and butter). No Grapes. No raisins. No chocolate. No bread dough. Yes all of these have killed pets before.
      • NO BONES: turkey bones are hollow. Easy to fracture. Easy to get shards of bone stuck in delicate inner organs after being swallowed. Again: Bag all turkey waste. Tie the bag closed. Get it out.


This is the best part of Thanksgiving. Family. Friends. Yay!

But please, think about the guests and your pet. Is someone allergic? Frail? Possibly a danger? To pets, children can be very scary and it’s usually the kids that pay for it. Kids pet hard, kick, bite and get right up in your pets face, unknowingly begging for a bite when they just meant to say hello. This is definitely a dangerous scenario. Make sure your pet gets along with the kids and that the kids know how to treat your pet. Have an older sibling in charge of pet patrol to help you keep an eye on your fur friend and your guests.

If there is a doubt, a fear your pet might escape the house, get fed bad things by well meaning hands, or be hurt. Please crate your pet, find them a safe spot in your home to ride it out in or board them some place safe. I know you want them around, especially on the holidays, but safety first. A trip to the ER will ruin your holiday faster than a little separation.


Speaking of escape. This is the perfect time to make sure your pet is microchipped and has proper identification tags on so that if the worst should happen, they have a possibility of returning home to you. How many times does your door open to guests around the holidays? There is ample opportunity for escape!