Full Bellies and Hearts: Involving Your Pet in Thanksgiving

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Include your pet in ThanksgivingThanksgiving will be here before we know it. As you make your plans for this day of feasting and gratitude, consider these ideas for how to involve your pet in the festivities.

A Special Plate For Your Pet

Thanksgiving was practically MADE for your pet--it’s all about eating! When you’re putting together your menu and shopping list, why not include something special for your furry little beast? There are some great recipes here.

If you’ve got too much going on in the kitchen to add yet another dish, that’s okay; you can always put together a little plate for your pet from the main menu - just make sure you know what foods to avoid by visiting Embrace’s Pet Poison Prevention Center or checking with your vet. Some of the most common Thanksgiving foods that are toxic to pets include: bones, raw/undercooked turkey, fat trimmings, onion, garlic, sage, raisins/grapes, chocolate, mushrooms, and beer. This list isn’t meant to be exhaustive; it’s meant to prompt you to do your own research so you know exactly how to feed your pet safely, so take a few minutes now to do that - it could literally save his life!

Another word of caution: obviously, you’ll want to be judicious with how much you feed your pet. Don’t go overboard - a little will go a long way. Also, it might be a good idea to ask your pet-loving guests not to feed her table scraps, explaining that she’ll be getting his own serving.

Once you’ve got that all dialed in, sit back and revel in the joy that a simple, delicious plate of special food brings your pet. The gratitude will drip right off her chin - and into your heart. After all, what’s better than knowing your pet is happy? That’s the ultimate thing to be thankful for.

Make a Donation to Less Fortunate Pets

Aside from stuffing ourselves with food on Thanksgiving, we also tend to stuff ourselves full of gratitude. A lot of people donate to their local food bank around this time, or even spend the day volunteering at a soup kitchen. What if you made a donation in your pet’s name to your local animal shelter or rescue? You don’t even have to give money - shelters and rescues can often utilize donations of food, blankets, crates, toys, leashes, or even newspaper. Visit their website or give them a call first to find out what they can use, though - you don’t want to donate something they can’t (some shelters don’t have a way to launder blankets, for example). Whatever you can give is guaranteed to make a lonely, homeless pet a little happier and healthier - it’s so simple to share the wealth!

If you really want to get involved, all shelters and rescues always need volunteers. What about spending a day giving the shelter animals fresh, clean kennels or walking dogs or playing with kittens? If you’re really in a position to help an animal less fortunate than your pet, inquire about becoming a foster parent - it’s a big commitment but it comes with a big reward. No one can adopt all of the homeless animals out there, but fostering one animal saves two lives: the one you bring into your home and the one who now can go into the shelter because a space opened up.

It's Time For Your Close Up

If you’re overdue for a family photo, Thanksgiving is a great time to get one, since everyone will be together! Set your timer, pile everyone on the couch or the front steps, and let ‘er click! You can also take advantage of having your relatives around by asking if they’d take a few shots of you with your pet (I’m sure you have plenty of pictures of just your pet, but it’s more challenging to get shots together - believe me, I know).

The key to getting good pet photos is to keep clicking! Pets move around a lot (even if they’re just sitting), so it takes a lot of tries to get the shot. And don’t be afraid to get creative - ditch the straight-on shot in favor of shots playing fetch, backyard football, with that favorite feather toy, enjoying a post-meal nap, or watching the leaves fall in the front yard. There’s nothing wrong with getting some nice posed shots so you can make them into a holiday card later, but you’ll probably end up cherishing the shots that show your “real” moments more than anything.

And finally, use natural light as much as you can - everyone looks better in it. Plus, there are so many great colors outside now, you might as well take advantage of them before they disappear.

6 Safety Tips

The last thing anyone wants is to spend Thanksgiving Day in the ER or out on the streets looking for a pet who got out. Because I see and hear of split-second pet accidents all the time, here are a few tips to keep your holiday safe and happy:

  1. Keep updated tags and collars on your pet all day.
  2. Secure flight-risk pets in a closed room, at least while guest are arriving and leaving.
  3. Keep your pet out of the kitchen while you’re cooking (hot stuff can easily fall onto them, or you, if they get underfoot).
  4. Keep garbage up high, outside, or otherwise out of reach.
  5. Remind yourself with sticky notes or a cell phone alarm to walk, feed, and replenish your pet’s water bowl. It sounds silly, but hosting is very distracting to our normal routines and it’s easy to forget to do these simple but important things.
  6. Your personal vet may be enjoying the holiday as well, so have an emergency vet’s number handy in case of any incidents!

There are all sorts of other ways to celebrate safely and happily with your fuzzy friends, and we’d love to hear about your family traditions and ideas for a great Thanksgiving, so leave a comment below! Here’s to a Thanksgiving of full bellies and hearts!

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