Thanksgiving with Pets
Do you celebrate Thanksgiving with pets I your home? Preparing food, cleaning and setting up for guests, and the many preparations might challenge anyone. However, including our pets in the preparation and events of the day offers yet another concern.
What You Will Learn
- Preparing your home before Thanksgiving
- Managing your pet and his comfort on Thanksgiving
- When the guests arrive
- Thanksgiving food and your pet
- What if you are not the host?
Preparing Your Home for Thanksgiving with Pets
Most of us clean and rearrange our homes to prepare for the big day. This extra cleaning may cause some pets to feel nervous. Take a little extra time to exercise and play with him. Make a game of the preparations.
Additionally, give consideration to how your pet will respond to guests. If you often have guests, your pet might already be accustomed to the changes. However, if you are concerned that he may need adjustment time, plan a special space for him to diffuse as he needs. In fact, some pets are actually happier when allowed to retreat from the festivities entirely.
Knowing your pet and his personality, make appropriate plans for him. And, think ahead for special effects, too. For instance, your dog might appreciate a special new bone or toy to take his mind off the extra activities. A new hideaway might prove perfect for a kitty who prefers isolation.
This is the time to consider your guests, too.
Are some afraid of pets? Will there be people that are allergic to pets? Your pet may experience additional stress if a guest is not pet-friendly. In such times, a separate room for the pet might actually help your pet feel more comfortable.
NOTE: Some people, children and adults, may not treat your pet the same as you do. In fact, you might consider them harmful to your pets. While we hope that is not the case, give some thought on allowing your pet the mental and physical safety of being removed from the area while visitors are there.
Also, for those pets that are eternal moochers. Thanksgiving guests often find it amusing to indulge the family pet. For his health and safety, keep your pet away from the table while you eat.
Preparing Your Pet
We plan the space for our pets well ahead of planning the day’s menu. In fact, planning Thanksgiving with pets is important for our family.
Where will each pet stay for the day? Will you need to plan extra treats? When removing them to another room, consider adding soothing music. Not only does the right type of music help pets relax, it also provides a sound buffer. Also, consider having each pet stay with a buddy.
Exercise, before your guests arrive, helps your pet relax. If guests will be staying long, plan a little exercise break for your pet during the festivities, too. And after guests leave, your pet will want some time with you, too!
If your guests will arrive or stay through your pet’s normal feeding time, consider altering that schedule slightly, if possible. Many pets will sleep after eating. Use this fact to help him relax.
As a continual preparation, teach your pet not to beg for food.
Some guests find it funny to feed the family pet too much food. Others might feel uncomfortable with a pet sitting two inches away, glaring at the food.
Other pet preparations include chew toys, special treats, and a special blanket with your scent on it, for pets that must be kept separate. In addition, plan to slip away occasionally to check on your pets.
One extra note: even if you plan for your pet to stay with the household and guests, please plan a special space, just in case. It is not always possible to predict how your pet will react. Having a back-up plan helps keep the day going smoothly.
Guests Arrive for Thanksgiving with Pets
If your pets will stay when the guests arrive, be sure to properly introduce them. Allow the pet to say Hello, then they should accept the guest. If your pet seems uncomfortable with a guest and you are unable to alleviate the problem, consider putting the pet somewhere safe.
Also, if a particular guest seems to be sharing appetizers or food, politely explain that you feed him a very specialized food and prefer he not get table treats. Even if you provide table food, you don’t want every guest indulging your pet. Any pet might get sick from too much food and often on the holidays, our food is not what our pets need.
Food to Share with Your Pet
So what food can you share? After all, Thanksgiving with pets often means a special leftover tray for our fur friends.
Indeed, some food might prove beneficial, too. A small amount of turkey, a few vegetables, and even some sweet potatoes (avoid the marshmallows, please) offer our pets a healthy, holiday treat. Additionally, most fruit, without the seeds and pits, is also healthy. A small amount of cranberry sauce, a bit of pumpkin, and even some apple, are all good choices.
However, it’s important to avoid foods that contain: onions, garlic, and other alliums, foods with a strong herb presence include stuffing herbs, gravies. and those foods with extra fats and sugars. Pets don’t manage these extras well. In fact, they may make your pet very sick.
Also to be avoided are bones (look closely in that turkey meat) and fatty particles, including skin and even dark meat. A small amount of fats is fine, of course, but avoid giving him large amounts of dark meat and skin.
If you like to provide treats, plan ahead. Set aside non-spiced tidbits according to your pet’s normal diet. The general rule is to plan no more than 10% of your dog’s normal diet in treats. So if you normally feed one pound of dog food, your treats should be one tenth of a pound or less.
When You Travel For Thanksgiving
Planning your Thanksgiving with Pets takes some pre-planning. However, what if you are going to your in-laws or other home for Thanksgiving, rather than hosting?
Again, the ideas for planning a safe space for your pet help here, too. You also need to plan the amount of time you will be gone. Providing extra exercise before you leave helps your pet relax. Plan to spend time with him when you return, too.
If your travels will take you for days rather than hours, consider whether he would do best in a boarding facility, a friend’s home, or at home with someone checking on him. Depending on your pet and where you are traveling, taking him along might be the best option.
For more information, refer to our article on traveling with your dog.