Tips to keep your pets safe through the holidays

The Humane Society of the United States reminds pet owners that it's important to include their canine and feline friends in Thanksgiving preparations.

"Thanksgiving is a special time of year for many families, but it can also be hectic, and the change in routines can be confusing for pets," said K.C. Theisen, director of pet care issues.

The organization offers the following tips to keeping pets healthy and happy.

* Provide your pet with a quiet room during holiday parties. Though some pets may enjoy socializing opportunities, the excitement of a party may overwhelm others.

* Do not give pets table scraps, especially bones. Bones easily splinter and can cause serious health problems, even death. Many foods are potentially toxic to dogs and cats (such as chocolate, raisins and onions). Ask guests to respect your "no feeding" wishes.

* If you travel with a pet, be sure to contact your hosts in advance to find out if your pet is welcome. Because of the excitement during the holidays, it might be best to board your pet or hire a reputable pet sitter instead.

* When traveling with your pet, attach temporary tags with contact for where you are staying.

* Know the contact information for a local veterinarian at your destination and check on holiday availability. Be sure that you bring along a copy of your pet's health records, and pack extra amounts of any medication he takes in case your return home is delayed.

* Traveling with your pet by air is risky, particularly during the holidays. Consider driving instead of flying, or leaving your pet under the care of a pet sitter or boarding kennel. Remember that your pet's carrier will be expected to undergo airline screening, so be sure to either have your pet securely harnessed so she can be safely contained while her carrier is X-rayed or request a special secondary screening from TSA that will not require you to take her out of her carrier.

* If you are leaving your pet at home with a pet sitter, be sure to ask for references, plus written proof that he or she is bonded and has commercial liability insurance.

* If you are leaving your pet at a boarding kennel, visit the kennel ahead of time to make sure it's clean, comfortable and safe for your pet.

For more information, visit