Top Tips for a Pet-Safe Thanksgiving

If you're planning to host friends or family for a Thanksgiving meal, check out our top tips to have a great time, and protect your pets in the process!

Prepare a Special Treat

It's no secret that Thanksgiving is chock full of foods that our four legged friends really shouldn't eat. In addition to the usual culinary hazards like onions and garlic, Thanksgiving features a wide array of items that our pets may be tempted to view as tasty treats. Turkey bones, fatty foods, sugary treats, and even the meaty packaging that that once housed greasy foods can all tempt our pets to indulge and can lead to serious digestive issues, if not worse. To make matters worse, our animal loving guests are often tempted to hand over "just a little" tasty treat when faced down by our pet's very best innocent eyes. If you have guests that just cannot stand to see your dog or cat go without a special Thanksgiving treat, have a pet friendly treat prepared in advance for your guests to hand over instead of their leftovers. This can be as simple as your keeping a bag of your pet's favorite treats handy, but carrot sticks or raw green beans also work well for dogs. If you really want to go for gold, it can also be fun to set aside a special Thanksgiving "dinner" for your four legged friend made of their favorite canned food, or pet-safe foods like boiled chicken, rice, and a few chunks of veggies like green beans or cooked sweet potato. 

Watch the Trash

It's easy to focus on the meal itself, but don't forget to guard the trash can! Some of the most serious post-Thanksgiving vet visits begin with a trip to the trash can to snack on discarded bits of food, turkey carcasses, or packing materials. While many cats have no interest in the trash, it's a good idea to keep an eye on them too. In particular, discarded strings used to tie your turkey or ham can easily be snagged and used as toys by our feline friends. Because they retain odors and greasy bits of food, it's not uncommon for cats to ingest these types of strings and get themselves in a whole lot of trouble as those strings attempt to move through their digestive tract. 

Mind the Gap

If you're welcoming a group of people into your home for a Thanksgiving meal, be sure to mind any entries or exits from your home. Not all guests are used to having animals around, and nothing ruins a Thanksgiving meal faster than having to frantically search the neighborhood for your escaped dog or cat! Even if you plan to be careful, it's also a good idea to make sure your pet is outfitted with either a collar with ID tag, or a registered microchip just in case.

Keep Pets Away From the Table

Even with the most vigilent guests, food is often abundant and poorly attended on Thanksgiving. From an unattended gravy boat or stick of butter on the table to an appetizer dish accidentally placed within reach of your four legged friend, opportunities abound to sneak a treat. If your dog or cat is prone to sneaking food off of the table, assign one person to monitor them before, during, and after the meal to make sure they aren't sneaking any treats, or let your pets hang out elsewhere until the meal is cleaned up. 

Take a Walk

Everyone loves a good walk around the neighborhood after the big meal, but if you're hosting this year, consider a morning walk or trip to the dog park to burn off excess energy before guests arrive, especially if your dog is young or particularly energetic! The day is still likely to be full of energy and excitement with guests arriving and loads of extra attention, but exercise early in the day increases your chances of having a calm, composed dog at the end of the day rather than one who is misbehaving. 

Be Careful with Plants and Flower Arrangements

It's not uncommon to have an assortment of flowers in your house for Thanksgiving, whether it's a centerpiece you've prepared or an arrangement brought by a kind guest to your home. Unfortunately, flower arrangements can be hazardous if ingested by our four legged friends. The most common danger is the lilly, which can be toxic to cats even in very small amounts, but many other plants and flowers can pose digestive or other problems if ingested by our four legged friends. If your cat or dog gets into your flower arrangements despite your best efforts, the ASPCA maintains a database of poisonous plants, as well as a pet poison hotline that can help you determine whether a vet visit is needed.


Thanksgiving can be a wonderful time to enjoy in the company of family and friends, but nothing ruins a holiday quite like an unexpected visit to the vet because your dog or cat is ill or injured. Fortunately, with a little extra planning and caution, a safe and healthy Thanksgiving is well within your reach!

Wishing you all a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

The CVH Team