Thanksgiving is a time when many families and friends gather to share food and spend time together, but the holiday can present some hazards for pets if their owners don’t take simple precautions.
Pet Sitters International (PSI), the world’s leading educational organization for professional pet sitters, advises pet owners to keep in mind their four-legged family members when planning Thanksgiving activities this year.
“Simple holiday traditions, such as hosting a Thanksgiving feast for friends and family, can pose potential problems to pets if not monitored carefully,” warned PSI President Patti J. Moran.
PSI offers four important tips for pet owners to keep in mind this Thanksgiving.
1. Don’t let your pets eat the wrong treats. Food is a culprit for some of the most common holiday pet emergencies, so be sure that any guests know which foods are off-limits for your pets. Holiday treats, such as rich, fatty scraps, bones from pork and poultry, alcoholic beverages, chocolate and other sweets and candies, can be harmful or toxic to pets. These foods have been linked to pancreatitis in pets. Signs and symptoms of an inflamed pancreas include vomiting and abdominal pain, and severe pancreatitis requires emergency medical care and treatment. Other dangerous substances for pets include the sugar substitute xylitol, bread dough and onions. If a pet ingests any potentially harmful product, call a veterinarian or a local emergency animal hospital immediately.
2. Keep holiday decorations out of pets’ reach. Will you be decorating your home with cornucopias, pine cones, plants, lights or other festive décor this Thanksgiving? Or will you put up a Christmas tree or other holiday decorations following the Thanksgiving feast? Be sure to keep out of pets’ reach any decorations that could be harmful if chewed on or ingested.
3. Provide a safe space for pets. If your pets are easily frightened or not used to being around a lot of people, Thanksgiving can be an especially stressful time. If your home will be the location for a Thanksgiving celebration, make sure you have a room set aside where your pet can relax with favorite toys and will not be disturbed by guests. And make sure your pet is wearing an identification tag with your name and contact information, in case he or she slips out the door as guests come and go. You may also want to consider microchipping your pet.
4. Don’t just hire a pet lover to watch your pet. If you will be celebrating Thanksgiving away from home—or perhaps will be gone for long hours shopping on Black Friday—your pet could benefit from the services of a professional pet sitter. PSI advises pet owners to only use the services of professional pet sitters.
“Just because someone is a pet lover and has a profile on an online directory—or even on a nationally-publicized site—doesn’t ensure he or she is a qualified pet sitter operating a legitimate business,” said PSI Vice-President Beth Stultz. “In today’s sharing economy anyone can offer their services online, so it’s important for pet owners to take a closer look to ensure they are hiring not just a pet lover, but a pet lover who is also a true pet-care professional.”