Guide to a Safe Thanksgiving with Your Dog

thanksgiving with your dog - shiba inu with pumpkinsIf you celebrate Thanksgiving, it’s one of the best times of year to get together with family and friends. You probably want to include your dog in the festivities. In fact, chances are he’s front and center anyway because he smells the food. Maybe you even have a dog from another branch of the family joining in the fun! Here are a few tips for a safe Thanksgiving with your dog:

Keep your dog’s meals and exercise schedule as normal as possible.

Whether you’re occupied by playing touch football, watching the Macy’s Day Parade, or getting everything together in the kitchen, Thanksgiving is a busy day. But, it’s important to keep all of your dog’s routines close to normal. Feed your pup the usual amount of food at the usual times and take him for his usual walks. Keeping things normal will minimize the chance of his having a conflict with another dog or tearing into the turkey.

Feed your dog the right leftovers.

Your dog will want some leftovers – or some scraps before they turn into leftovers – of that you can be sure. So make sure everyone is on the same page about which human foods to feed him. The best way to do this is to go over your feast and look up the ingredients online to see which ones don’t agree with dogs.

Know the right and wrong Thanksgiving foods.

You can feed your pup turkey, but make sure you remove bones, skin, and fat. If your dog consumes a cooked bone, it can splinter and cause injury. And fat from a turkey can cause pancreatitis in a dog.

Onions, garlic, leeks. scallions – any foods in that family – are a no-no. Onions and garlic may be present in mashed potatoes, which by themselves are fine for dogs to eat. If you think your pup really needs that warm-belly feeling you get from eating mashed potatoes, make him a little portion without any of the added ingredients. He also cannot eat cheese, so if cheese is in any of your holiday dishes they’re off the “Yes” list.

Xylitol is another ingredient dogs shouldn’t have. If you or your Thanksgiving co-celebrants use this as a sweetener, don’t give those foods to your dog. Keep desserts containing chocolate far out of your dog’s reach. Cranberry sauce is a tasty treat to pups, but only as a little accent on their plate (it tends to contain lots of sugar). Green beans are also a safe bet for dogs, but again, watch out for cheese, garlic, and onions which can mean a trip to the emergency vet.

This may go without saying, but don’t let your pup sample that new pumpkin beer you’re crazy about – alcohol can kill a dog.

Be careful with herbs. Sage, in particular, can be toxic to dogs. Herbs are more dangerous to a dog if consumed in large quantities, so if he’s being too nosy while you’re cooking send him out. You might want to have him referee that game of touch football.

Even if you think you’ve got this leftover thing under control, talking to your vet about Thanksgiving is still a good idea, especially if your pup has health problems or dietary restrictions.