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MDARD Encourages Owners to Help Keep Pets Safe this Thanksgiving

Enjoy all the delights of the holiday without causing discomfort and stress for pets 

LANSING, MI—As Michiganders put the final touches on their holiday menus and travel plans, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is reminding owners of some of the best ways to keep their pets healthy and safe this Thanksgiving.

"Thanksgiving celebrations are filled with food, family, and loved ones—especially pets. When we include them in our festivities, we want to make sure to meet their needs, so our four-legged family members won’t have any discomfort or additional stress,” said State Veterinarian Nora Wineland, DVM. “From keeping them away from fatty foods to ensuring they have up-to-date identification, there are many precautions owners can take to keep their animals safe this Thanksgiving.”

Keep pets safe this holiday by following these six easy tips:

Happy Tummies: Avoid feeding pets people foods
Unfortunately, pets cannot enjoy all of the same foods and treats we do. Fatty foods (like turkey/turkey skin, meat fat, and gravy) can cause pancreatitis—even when consumed in small amounts. Also, chocolate, grapes/raisins, onions, and xylitol (an artificial sweetener found in many candies and gum) can be poisonous to pets; and bones can cause injury and illness as well.

Stash the Trash: Keep pets away from the garbage can
Discarded bones, strings, bags, and other food-related packaging can be problematic if pets try to eat them. Once disposed of, make sure these items are kept away from pets in tightly secured trash bags placed in trashcans that are kept behind a closed door, in the garage, or outside.

Avoid Temptations: Keep decorations out of reach
Centerpieces, candles, and lights not only make for a beautiful display but also catch the eye of our pets. If consumed, these items could cause intestinal blockages or other injuries. Be sure these items are out of their reach, along with potpourris and some festive flowers/plants. 

Search No More: Make sure pets have proper identification
With all the activity both in and out of the kitchen, it can be easy for pets to sneak out and get lost. Make sure pets have identification tags and/or microchips that are up to date with current contact information to better ensure they are returned home.

Destress and Decompress: Have a quiet space for your pets
The new people, large crowds, and lively activities can be loud and overly stimulating for pets. Pets could also become overwhelmed if guests bring over their pets to visit as well. It is important to have a quiet space set aside for your pet to be alone. Also, have the room stocked with their food, water, litter pan, etc. in case they would like to maintain their distance for an extended period of time.

Cleared for Take-off: Ensure your pets are fit for travel
If you will be travelling with your pets this holiday season, talk with your veterinarian to determine what steps, documents, or preventative care might be needed to ensure your pet is ready to go! Destination states, countries, commercial carriers, and even lodging facilities can all have different requirements for your pets to accompany you. More resources can also be found on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pet Travel website or on MDARD’s animal movement website

Following these tips can help keep your animals safe and healthy through the holiday. If there are any concerns about your animals’ health either now or throughout the year, please talk to your veterinarian.