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Thanksgiving Safety for Dogs: Get it Right!

Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season, with many gatherings filled with food and family. However, the holiday may not be quite as joyful for your canine companion. From an interrupted routine to dangerous foods, Thanksgiving, unfortunately, presents many hazards to our four-legged friends. Read below to learn how you and your pet can have a safe, stress-free holiday this year with our guide on Thanksgiving safety for dogs.

Do’s & Don’ts for Thanksgiving Foods

One of the best parts of Thanksgiving is the feast itself. However, many traditional Thanksgiving foods are high in fat, contain bones, or include ingredients that are hazardous to dogs. Head into your meal equipped with knowledge of what is and what is not harmful to your dog. 

Foods to Avoid Sharing with Dogs: 

  • Turkey: Turkey including the skin can cause pancreatitis, a life-threatening condition. Dark, fatty meat is especially hazardous to your pup. In addition, be aware of carcasses and bones which pose a great choking hazard and can even splinter inside the digestive tract. 
  • Dough containing yeast: Yeast can cause painful gas and bloating which may lead to a stomach blockage. This is because the yeast in the dough makes it rise and expand. In addition, the natural fermentation of the yeast in your dog’s stomach can lead to alcohol poisoning. 
  • Garlic and onions: Garlic and onions, as well as other variations of the vegetable (leeks and chives), are common in many traditional Thanksgiving dishes including green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, and stuffing. Steer clear of feeding your dog any foods with these ingredients as they are toxic. The toxicity causes damage to your dog’s red blood cells resulting in anemia. These foods also lead to GI upset. 
  • Grapes: Grapes, as well as the dried versions of the fruit, such as raisins and currants, are hazardous to your canine companion. These are often found inside dishes such as stuffing at your Thanksgiving meal. Grapes’ toxicity can cause harm to dogs’ kidneys and affect urine production. 
  • Pie and desserts: Many pies and desserts served at Thanksgiving contain toxic ingredients including chocolate and xylitol. In addition, desserts are often high in fat which is dangerous to dogs. 

Safe Foods to Feed Dogs at Thanksgiving: 

  • Sweet potato & potato: Raw, unseasoned sweet potatoes and potatoes can be shared with your dog at Thanksgiving. Sweet potatoes are actually filled with nutrients that are beneficial to canines. Just be sure to stick to raw or dried bits, no canned goods. 
  • Green beans: Green beans are a safe treat for your pup, like potatoes, steer clear of seasoned or dressed green beans – keep them raw and hazard-free. 
  • Pumpkin: Pumpkin is tasty and loaded with fiber for dogs, raw or cooked. Always use fresh 100% pure pumpkin, not to be confused with canned pumpkin pie filling that is hazardous. 
  • Apple: Apple slices make for a yummy treat for your dog, just be sure to steer clear of the core and seeds, as consuming too many seeds may be toxic.

Thanksgiving Celebration Precautions

Holiday gatherings can pose a number of risks to your canine companion. Follow the tips below to prepare for your Thanksgiving celebration while keeping your dog safe and stress-free. 

  • Put trash away: Be sure the garbage is secured in a place where your dog is unable to access it. Either hide the garbage can away or have a secure lid. Packaging from foods poses a risk to your dog if consumed. Strings and other items used to wrap and tie meat products can be deadly. In addition, you don’t want your dog accessing bones or any other scraps in the trash. 
  • Make sure food is inaccessible: Don’t let Fido jump on countertops or tables during your meal preparation or meal. If your dog is known to be a counter surfer, consider crating or gating them in a separate area of the house while food is present.   
  • Create a “safe space”: With Thanksgiving comes new visitors, larger crowds, and increased activity. These factors may cause stress to your dog. If your dog is nervous or overly excitable with visitors, set them up in a secluded room or crate with their favorite toy or bone. If you do let your dog interact with visitors, always be sure they have access to a “safe space” such as their crate, so they can excuse themselves and relax away from the activity. This way, both your pet and visitors are safe and comfortable. 
  • Put away guests’ bags: As guests arrive, be aware of their purses and suitcases and put them away in a closet or somewhere inaccessible to your dog. While you may be aware that your pup loves scavenging for goodies in purses, your guests may not be. Keeping bags out of sight prevents the likelihood of your dog consuming something hazardous. 
  • Update Microchip & ID Tags: With visitors comes increased traffic in the household, including a lot of in and out through doors. Even if your pet is not typically a door bolter, all of the added activity may cause stress leading to a slip through the door. To be safe, make sure their collar is secured and update their microchip information and identification tags ahead of time. An owner’s name, address, and phone number are crucial to reuniting a lost pet with their beloved owner. 
  • Keep an eye on festive decor: Items to keep an eye out for include pine cones, festive plants, and other attractive decor. These may intrigue your pet leading to intestinal blockages and GI upset. Also, be vigilant around lit candles, a wagging tail or jumping dog can easily knock over a candle resulting in a fire. 

Travel Precautions

Traveling is a fun and often essential part of Thanksgiving. However, it may not be as fun for your dog. Follow the tips below to ensure your pet has a safe and comfortable travel experience this holiday. 

  • Proper and safe restraint in the car: There are many harnesses, seatbelts, and carriers built for dogs of all shapes and sizes to ensure proper restraint in the car. Utilizing this gear ensures your dog is protected when making a sharp turn or, braking suddenly, or getting in an accident. Just be sure wherever they are restrained in the car, the area is clear of airbags. In addition, restraint ensures your pet is unable to access hazardous food or cause distractions to the driver. 
  • Consult with a veterinarian about air travel: Traveling by airplane can pose a risk to your pet, especially short-nosed dogs. Be sure to speak with your veterinarian if you are considering your dog boarding an airplane. They will go over the potential risks based upon your dog’s age, breed, health status, etc. They may also prescribe medication to keep them calm.
  • Pack Fido’s bag: You probably have your own bag stocked and ready to go for your trip, but be sure that your dog does too. Include essential items: 
        • Up-to-date medical records including proof of vaccinations
        • Favorite toys and comfort items 
        • Medications (including a surplus supply just in case) 
        • Crate and bed 
        • Food and clean water along with dishes
        • Collar (with current ID & Rabies tags) 
        • Pet first aid kit 
        • Primary veterinary information 
  • Emergency veterinary information: While you should have your dog’s primary veterinarian’s contact information on hand, we highly recommend doing some research before hitting the road. Compile a list of emergency veterinary contact information in the areas you’ll be traveling through. This way, if any issues arise, you’ll be able to act quickly and secure care for your dog. 
  • Update microchip, ID tags, and travel tags: With a lot of in and out of the car, restroom breaks, and unfamiliar territory, it is essential to update your dog’s microchip information and ID tags prior. An owner’s name, address, and phone number should be up to date and secured to their collar. In addition to their normal identification tags, consider creating a travel tag. Include your typical information accompanied by contact information for your travel accommodations such as the hotel, family’s house address, etc.
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