Are you lucky enough to share your home with one or more loving dogs or cats?  Our furry friends give us so much unconditional love every day, and if we’re in a state of openness and awareness, they can also teach us to live joyfully in the present moment. They encourage us to be committed, to unconditionally love and accept others, and to forgive.  They’re our best friends and work tirelessly in many capacities on our behalf.

Although every day is an opportunity to show how much we appreciate them, Thanksgiving is the perfect time to give our pets some extra love.  We can do this by:

Keeping Their Home Safe

Think of your pets’ safety as you decorate your home for the holidays.  Although pumpkins and decorative corn aren’t toxic, ingesting too much can cause an upset stomach.  Make sure there aren’t any small decorative pieces that your pet can choke on, or decorations that can cause intestinal blockages or perforate your pet’s intestines if eaten.  Some plants used in floral arrangements are toxic, including autumn crocus, chrysanthemum, and acorns from oak trees.  You can find a list of plants that are toxic to dogs and cats on the ASPCA web site.  If you believe your pet has eaten something toxic or if your pet has sudden changes in behavior, depression, pain, vomiting, or diarrhea, call your veterinarian or emergency vet clinic immediately.

Preparing for Visitors

If friends or relatives are visiting, our pets can become shy, nervous, or overly excited.  If they seem anxious, you can put them in a quiet room away from all the activity with fresh water and their favorite toy. Playing classical or “spa” music can help to calm them.  Products like Rescue Remedy and Calm My Stress essences used ten minutes before guests arrive can ease stress and anxiety.  Make sure your guests know to close doors and gates behind them so your pet can’t escape, and that your pet’s ID tag or microchip is updated with current contact information, just in case.

Sharing the Bounty

Of course, we are all thankful for the delicious Thanksgiving feast on our table!  If you want to share with your pets, avoid turkey skin and bones, processed or sugary foods, raisins, grapes, onions, leeks or chives, chocolate, and all desserts.  Cooked bones can splinter, and dark meat, greasy skin, gravies, and other fatty foods can cause severe stomach upsets and even pancreatitis, which requires a stay at a veterinary hospital for close monitoring of life-threatening complications.

Did you know there are healthy people-foods your pet can enjoy, though?  Apple slices (no seeds or core), carrots, green beans, broccoli, kale and spinach, canned pumpkin (not pie filling), sweet potatoes, and plain, organic yogurt or cottage cheese are safe for both cats and dogs.  Foods should be given plain, without any seasonings, and in moderation.  You can add a small portion of safe people food to your pet’s regular food, or put a small amount of sweet potato, carrots, or green beans inside a Kong or puzzle toy to keep them occupied while you are eating.

Make sure trash (bones, foils, plastic wraps, etc.) is put away out of your pet’s reach.  These are hard for your pet to resist and could cause obstructions, choking incidents, or even suffocation.

Spending Quality Time Together

Remember, our pets are thankful for the little things, too.  A walk or jog through the neighborhood or on a nearby trail, a relaxed ride in the car, some playtime with a favorite toy, or a nice nap cuddled up together are all treasured by our pets and deepen the bond we share with them.

As you count your blessings during this season of thanks, include your four-legged friends that have chosen to share this life with you!  They are our greatest blessings!