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Your Pets and Thanksgiving.

(Thanksgiving can be a wonderful time to celebrate with family and friends, including our pet companions. But there are a few things to keep in mind so our pets stay healthy and safe that day.) 

It’s hard to believe that we’ve put Halloween 2023 into our rear-view mirror already. It’s also hard to believe that Thanksgiving will be upon us in a little more than three short weeks. 

So, just when we’re trying to figure out what to do with all of the leftover Halloween candy (hint: don’t give it to your pets), now we have to think about Thanksgiving? 

Well, no need to worry. With a few common-sense preparations, the holiday can run smoothly for everyone…including our fabulous furry friends. 

Let’s start with the obvious: the food. 

For a lot of us, Thanksgiving is about getting together with loved ones and giving thanks for our blessings in front of rolling mountains of delicious food. 

Mouth-watering roast turkey. Steaming gravy. Creamy mashed potatoes. Grandma’s secret stuffing. Unique and delicious veggie dishes. And maybe some sweet pumpkin or a flaky apple pie. 

I’m sure you have your own family faves. 

I’m also sure you’ve known some guests who, well, stuffed themselves more fully than the turkey at the Thanksgiving table. This is certainly no crime…though indigestion might feel like you’re being punished for one anyway. 

But we should keep in mind that being stuffed with food isn’t any good for our pet friends at all. 

Also, the kinds of foods we humans gladly down on this holiday aren’t good for our animal companions in general. 

As the American Veterinary Medical Association ( reminds us, the way we usually prepare turkey for Thanksgiving isn’t healthy for animals. While really small quantities of fully-cooked turkey—with no skin, bones, fat, spices, or any other seasonings and/or ingredients—are okay, that’s not really the way most of us roll on, well, Turkey Day. 

It’s sad, but true. Fatty foods and/or turkey skin are tough on your pet’s digestive system. These can even cause pancreatitis—a potentially dangerous inflammation of your pet’s pancreas. Raisins, onions, and grapes can be poisonous to your pets. (Oh, and watch out for the wonderfully decorative flowers and plants you may decide to use to brighten up your Thanksgiving décor—some of these are poisonous to pets as well.) 

And, in general, holiday desserts aren’t good for Pickles, either. 

In short, as the AVMA advises, “Keep the feast on the table—not under it.” Very good advice in my experience, so I concur. 

Be careful, too, with how you handle throwing out the garbage. The few seconds that you’re distracted by a first-down-and-ten on TV may be all the time Rover needs to attack the helpless, forgotten turkey carcass in the kitchen. Crunching those sharp bones can cause horrible, deadly punctures in his digestive system. Avoid this by immediately dumping such garbage into a trash bag, sealing it, and dropping it into a can with a tight lid, preferably outside. 

If, in spite of all of your careful preparation—and in spite of the watchful eyes in the back of your head—Crackers still manages to sneak and consume forbidden foods, that’s when you call us: (845) 292-6711. We can help you evaluate the situation, and—if needs be—encourage you to bring her in for treatment. 

But what if you didn’t actually see Crackers grab those grapes, and are happily living in the illusion that she’s behaved like the perfect poodle she generally is? Well, there are signs you can watch for that may alert you to her indiscretion: 

  • She may look like she’s in pain. 
  • She may look like she’s depressed…or she may behave in a way that she generally does not. 
  • She may have diarrhea. 
  • She may be vomiting. 

Once again, if you see any of these signs, give us a buzz. After all—as the cliché goes—it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

Now, let’s look at another important aspect of Thanksgiving in America: the travel. 

I was always under the impression that Thanksgiving is the holiday Americans travel for the most. A quick Google search seems to indicate that I’m at least partially right (which I can live with). For example, I found this tidbit from the Automobile Association of America: 

“The day before Thanksgiving is always the busiest day for that holiday week,” AAA’s Robert Sinclair said. “But many don’t realize the busiest travel period of the year is the week between Christmas and New Year’s.” 

Whatever the case may actually be, a lot of us pack up and make the move from our homes to elsewhere when there’s roast turkey to be had on a certain day in November. 

If our pets are packing up with us, there are a few things to keep in mind. 

To begin with, we should always keep our animal companions secured in our vehicles. As the AVMA suggests, “This means using a secure harness or a carrier, placed in a location clear of airbags. This helps protect your pets if you brake or swerve suddenly, or get in an accident…[also], Never transport your pet in the bed of a truck.” 

Good advice for sure. 

Then, keep in mind that you might need a health certificate for your pets, especially if you’re traveling across state lines. Do a little research ahead of time, and give us a ring. We can help you out with that. 

Remember, too, that it’s never a good idea to leave your pet alone in your vehicle. 

What if Sassy is prone to motion sickness? You can always get in touch with us before you set out on the road. There are things we can suggest that will keep him comfortable as the miles roll under the tires. 

What if traveling with your pets is just too daunting a task? Well, you might consider boarding them. Pets are family, so I know it may be a bit scary thinking about leaving them behind, especially with a people or a boarding service that you may not know. 

But we provide boarding services here at the Animal Hospital of Sullivan County, and if you decide to board your pets with us, you know they’ll be cared for in a great environment by folks who’ll love your animals, well, almost as much as you do. Again, be in touch for rates and information… 

Phone: (845) 292-6711 

Email: [email protected] 

Whew! We’ve covered a lot here. But it all comes down to common sense and a little preparation. Then, all of us—two and four legs alike—can enjoy a happy, healthy Thanksgiving holiday together. 

We hope yours is great!

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