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Freshly carved turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy, homemade stuffing and pumpkin pie; the classic Thanksgiving meal. But what sounds perfect for you, may not be what's best for your pet.

This Thanksgiving, the Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association (WVMA) would like to share tips to help keep your pets happy and healthy.

Food
Many common cooking ingredients pose a health risk to your pets.

"Raisins, alcoholic beverages, onions, garlic and chocolate can all be toxic to pets," says WVMA Member, Dr. Laura Bonofiglio. "Also, excessive consumption of any table food can cause diarrhea, vomiting, pancreatitis and other gastrointestinal problems."fotolia 96778684

If you would like to share some pet friendly food with your furry family member, she recommends only offering your pet thumb-tip size morsel of lean meat or bland food, and even less for little dogs.

If you think your pet has eaten too much human food or potentially poisonous food, contact your veterinarian for immediate assistance. They will be able to determine if your pet should be evaluated or if the amount of toxin ingested was negligible.

Gatherings
Whether you have a cat or dog, Dr. Bonofiglio says the first precaution owners should take when having guests over, is to keep pets away from the door as people enter. This will keep pets from sneaking outside. It may also be helpful to keep them out of the kitchen and away from food that they shouldn't be eating.

"If you are going to let your pets out with guests, make sure they are friendly and outgoing," she says. "Shy and grumpy pets should be kept in a quiet, restful area during gatherings to prevent any negative interactions."
Even if your pets loves meeting people, Dr. Bonofiglio still recommends having a quiet space for your pet to go to if they are feeling tired or overwhelmed.

As guests arrive, be sure that your pet isn't left alone with any children and that people know if they can approach your pet or not. Guests should also be made aware that they should not be feeding your pets any food.

Traveling
If you plan on traveling with your pet, there are precautions you can take to help ensure a safe trip for everyone.

"Pets should be in the back of the vehicle and definitely not jumping about the front of the car," says Dr. Bonofiglio. "For longer trips, it's best to put your pet in a crate or kennel to keep them safe and contained."

When not in the car, make sure your pet is leashed at all times. This will prevent them from running away in unfamiliar surroundings.

If you are planning to travel outside of the state, a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) is required. You can receive this by scheduling an appointment with your veterinarian to make sure your pet is up to date on all vaccinations and is healthy enough to travel with you.

Dr. Bonofiglio also recommends bringing the food your pet is used to eating and as well as any necessary medications.

"Besides food and medications," she adds, "I would also pack their favorite toys and bedding so they feel as comfortable as possible in the new place."

It may also be helpful to pack a long lead for your dog so they can enjoy being outside, but are not off the leash in an unfamiliar area.

But before you pack your pet up, make sure to take some time and evaluate your trip.

"Be sure to consider if you will have enough time to take care of your pet as you usually would in the midst of spending time with family and friends," says Dr. Bonofiglio.

Also, make sure that where you are going is pet friendly and that the areas are safe and pet proof. If you aren't positive about these, don't be afraid to leave your pet with a trusted pet boarding facility or pet sitter to keep them safe during the holidays.

If you have any questions about your pet's health, contact your local WVMA member veterinarian.

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4610 S. Biltmore Lane, Suite 107
Madison, WI 53718
Phone: (608) 257-3665
Fax: (608) 257-8989
Email: wvma@wvma.org

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