Kingstonist’s Wizard of Paws: Safety tips for Thanksgiving weekend

Veterinarian Ryan Llera with puppy patient, Enzo.

And so it begins… the festive holiday season! Awesome food, cooler weather, changing of leaves, and family gatherings. In all the bustle of the season, your pets can often get put off during the hectic happenings, and you want to make sure they stay safe.

Food – just say no! It may be tempting to let them have a nibble of turkey or other goodies from the table, but know that this can potentially make them quite ill. Pancreatitis may rear its ugly head and cause some intense vomiting or diarrhea, especially if eating anything greasy or fatty, or something unusual to their diet. If there’s a string around your turkey, beware of the cats getting a hold of it as it can lead to a nasty obstruction.

Crowds – anxiety through the roof! Maybe you have a social butterfly for a pet, but maybe you don’t.  Louder noises, altered routines, strange or newer people in the house can be terrifying to some pets.  You might not see your cat for a few days. Your dog may have accidents in the house or, if feeling excessively anxious, could even lash out with the unfamiliar events around them.

Travel – there’s no place like home. Home is likely the safest and happiest place for your pets. Yet, if you are traveling with them, follow a few simple tips:

  • Large dogs in seat belt harnesses or crates and small dogs or cats in crates.
  • Have enough medication in case you end up staying for a few days.
  • Have a copy of their vaccine certificate in case you need to cross the border, or if you for some reason need to board them unexpectedly.
  • If your pet is anxious or nauseous in the car, ask your veterinarian for some short acting, safe medication options that might help.

That’s the basics! If your pet does have a problem over the weekend, don’t hesitate to contact the nearest emergency clinic, because the morning after a holiday, your vet clinic can be jam packed and it may not be easy to get in. Additionally, the longer a sick pet waits, the worse a situation can get. Be safe, have fun, and relax with your pets during the holidays – they are part of your family!


Dr. Ryan Llera is a small animal veterinarian at the Kingston Veterinary Clinic. Though originally from Florida, he married a Canadian (who is also a vet!) and they share their home with two cats, two dogs, two horses, and a rabbit. Dr. Llera also contributes writing to various other animal and veterinary related blogs. You can find more of his writing at, or see what else he is up to on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

If there’s something you’ve often wondered or have questions about, let us know by email at [email protected].

*Please note that specific medical questions about your pet cannot be addressed and you should speak with your personal veterinarian.


Disclaimer: All columns are personally written and my opinion and may not necessarily reflect those of current or former employers.

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