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Seattle Animal Shelter offers 10 tips for Thanksgiving pet safety

How to keep the feast on the table and off the floor and more

Thanksgiving is traditionally a time for feasts and gatherings with family and friends, but it can also be a stressful time for family pets. The Seattle Animal Shelter is sharing its top 10 tips to remind pet owners to take proper precautions and make sure they are considering their animals’ safety when getting ready for and enjoying the holiday.

  1. No table scraps. Don’t give your pets table scraps, either intentionally or by accident. This means making sure your friends and family know they should not “share” their meal with your dog or cat.
  2. Keep the brine away from your pet. Dogs and cats will smell and be interested in the salty solution left behind when you remove the turkey from the brine. If they lap it up, they risk salt toxicosis, which can result in serious issues like brain swelling.
  3. Some foods are absolutely off-limits for your dog or cat. While it’s okay for your dog or cat to have a small bite of cooked turkey or mashed potato, or even a lick of pumpkin, it’s best to stick to their normal food. Never give these common Thanksgiving ingredients to your pet:
    • Turkey bones, turkey skin or raw turkey.
    • Bread dough.
    • Raw batter (cake or cookie).
    • Onions (raw or cooked).
    • Garlic.
    • Chocolate.
    • Walnuts and macadamia nuts.
    • Mushrooms.
    • Nutmeg.
    • Sage or other herbs that contain essential oils. Cats are especially sensitive.
  4. Throw bones, corn cobs and other hazardous food items in outdoor compost/trash bins. You might think throwing that turkey carcass in the cabinet trash bin is enough to keep it away from your pet, but dogs and cats can find their way in with enough motivation. Take away the temptation by disposing of those harmful items in outdoor bins.
  5. Supervise your pets around holiday decorations. Never leave your pet alone in an area with a lit candle. Also, ingestion of certain types of flowers can cause stomach upset in dogs and cats, and decorations like pine cones and needles could cause intestinal blockage.
  6. Give pets a safe space to retreat to. Some pets get nervous or overexcited around strangers or crowds, and Thanksgiving might mean higher-than-normal noises and activity for your pet. Consider putting your pet in another room or in his or her crate with a favorite toy to help alleviate potential stress.
  7. Keep an eye on exits and make sure gates are latched. With guests coming and going, and people pausing at the door for greetings and goodbyes, opportunity is created for your pet to dart out. Make sure to watch your pets when doors are opened, and remind guests not to let your pets out.
  8. Make sure your pet’s license and microchip information are up to date. Despite best intentions, sometimes pets do get lost. Before Thanksgiving, ensure your pet’s license and microchip information are up to date so you can be reunited if someone finds your lost pet. (Seattle residents can manage their pet license information at
  9. Don’t leave your pet alone in a vehicle. Just like during hot summer weather, you should not leave an animal in a car during cold fall and winter weather. If you are going to a Thanksgiving gathering where you pet is not welcome, leave your pet at home.
  10. Have emergency phone numbers available. Just in case your pet eats something it shouldn’t or an accident occurs, have emergency phone numbers handy. Know where the closest emergency veterinarian is located. If you pet experiences signs of distress, such as change in behavior, pain, vomiting or diarrhea, contact your veterinarian immediately.

“Our pets are a big part of our lives, and we want to celebrate the holidays with them,” said Seattle Animal Shelter Director Ann Graves. “We hope these tips help pet owners keep their animals close but safe during the Thanksgiving holiday. Ultimately, we want everyone – and their pets – to enjoy the day.”

The Seattle Animal Shelter, located at 2061 15th Ave. W., is open from 1-6 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday for adoptions and licensing. The shelter will be closed on Thursday and Friday (Thanksgiving and the day after) for city-observed holidays. For more information, call 206-386-PETS (7387) or visit