Whether you will be spending Thanksgiving visiting loved ones or at home in Tennessee, plan ahead, and keep your pet in mind to ensure their safety and avoid a turkey day emergency. Our Sale Creek Veterinary Services team knows that any holiday can be hectic—especially if you will be traveling or preparing a feast for a crowd. Take some of that stress off your plate by reading our helpful tips to ensure your pet’s safety.  

Tips for boarding your pet

Not all pets are good travelers, and many pet owners board their pets when traveling during the holidays. Ensure your pet has a safe and enjoyable boarding experience by following these recommendations:

  • Reserve your pet’s spot early — Many boarding facilities fill up quickly around popular travel times, such as the holiday season, so do not wait until the last minute to book your pet’s boarding reservation. 
  • Tour the facility — If your pet will be spending their first time at a specific boarding facility, ask questions about accommodations, and tour the facility to ensure the environment supports your pet’s comfort and safety. In addition, always consider the facility’s cleanliness and sanitation. Before reserving your pet’s spot, ask these questions:
    • How are dogs and cats housed?
    • What is the exercise and playtime protocol?
    • What outdoor access will your pet have?
    • How much interaction will your pet receive—with staff and with playmates? 
    • How long will your pet be alone?
    • What is the protocol if your pet needs veterinary care?
  • Prepare your pet — Before boarding, remember to pack your furry pal’s essentials, including
    • Favorite toys and treats
    • A cozy bed
    • Medications and supplements,
    • Food
    • Emergency contact information
  • Update your pet’s vaccinations — Check with your veterinarian to ensure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date, since reputable boarding facilities will require current protection. At Sale Creek Veterinary Services, we require canine influenza vaccination, which requires an initial vaccine plus a booster two to four weeks later, in addition to core vaccines for dogs who board with us. 

Tips for traveling with your pet

Your pet may be an easygoing and experienced traveler, which makes taking your holiday journey together a joy. To ensure you and your pet have a safe and stress-free trip, fully plan and prepare:

  • Schedule a pretravel veterinary appointment — Schedule a pretravel veterinary appointment to ensure your pet is healthy enough to travel. Your veterinarian can refill your pet’s medications, provide their health certificate and medical records, and—for added protection—microchip your pet should you become separated during your travels. 
  • Research your airline’s pet policies — If you plan to fly to your destination, know the airline’s pet policies and which documents the company requires for your pet to travel. Find out if your pet can travel as a carry-on, and the kennel dimension guidelines and weight limit to ensure you are following regulations.
  • Keep your pet secure — Becoming separated from your pet is always heartbreaking, but losing your pet while traveling is a worst-case scenario. Whether you are flying or driving to your Thanksgiving destination, keep your pet secure at all times. Ensure your pet is comfortable traveling in a crate that provides them enough room to stand up and turn around. 

Tips for hosting with your pet

Hosting a Thanksgiving gathering is a big job. Your pet’s safety can easily slip your mind with all the planning, shopping, cooking, decorating, and hosting. As you prepare for your festive feast, plan ahead to keep your pet safe and calm: 

  • Create a safe space Some pets enjoy socializing, but others prefer solitude. Set up a quiet room in an out-of-the-way house area, where your pet can relax and escape the festivities. Leave a television on to provide calming white noise, and give your pet engaging toys and treats to keep them occupied during the party. 
  • Supervise your pet Pets who are comfortable around guests still require supervision, especially when you are greeting or sending off your guests. While you are distracted, your pet can easily slip out an open door and become lost. Consider leashing your pet when guests arrive and leave, or keeping them away from the door by putting up a pet gate.  
  • Resist sharing food Thanksgiving is all about the food, and you or your guests may be tempted to give a taste to your furry pal with the begging eyes. Forgo the guilt trip—and remind your guests to do the same—because your pet can experience a serious health emergency if they eat any of these popular Thanksgiving foods:
    • Turkey — Eating a small amount of turkey or turkey skin can cause your pet to develop life-threatening pancreatitis. 
    • Bones — Cooked bones are extremely brittle and may splinter, injuring your pet’s mouth or esophagus. If your pet manages to swallow a cooked bone, they can develop an intestinal blockage, which may require surgical removal. 
    • Garlic, onions, leeks, and chives — While these vegetable and herbs add flavor to dishes, such as mashed potatoes and stuffing, your pet could develop anemia if they eat them.  
    • Pies and desserts — You likely know that chocolate can harm your pet, but the artificial sweetener xylitol—commonly used in sugar-free baked goods—is also highly toxic. 

Wherever you celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, we hope you enjoy a special day with friends, family—two- and four-legged—and delicious food. If you are boarding your pet or flying with them, schedule an appointment with our Sale Creek Veterinary Services team to obtain your furry pal’s health certificate, and ensure their vaccinations are up to date.