If 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 they are front and center anyway because they smell the food. Maybe you even have a dog from another branch of the family joining in the fun! Here are a few Thanksgiving safety tips for dogs to keep in mind:
1. Brush Up on Basic Obedience
An important part of raising a puppy is socializing them, training them, and providing boundaries for them to make sure they grow into a well-behaved, confident dog. There will be a lot going on during the holidays with plenty of distractions and temptations for your dog.
So, brushing up on basic commands every dog should know before the holidays is a great idea. Your dog should be a master of “Sit”, “Stay”, “Down”, “Leave It”, “No”, and more. This will help them, and you, with the onslaught of people entering the home, constant temptations to beg for food or try to sneak snacks, and possible nights without you.
2. 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.
3. 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.
Go Light on Turkey
Too much high-fat meat and other items and wreak havoc on your dog’s digestive system. So, no matter how many times they give you those adorable puppy eyes, only give them a light serving of turkey with their normal food.
4. Know What Thanksgiving Foods to Avoid
Knowing what Thanksgiving foods to avoid giving your dog is just as important as knowing the options you are able to give them. Here are some typical Thanksgiving staples to make sure you keep away from your dog:
Turkey Bones are Bad for Your Dog
You can feed your pup turkey, but make sure you remove bones, skin, and fat. Bird bones are notoriously brittle. If your dog consumes a cooked bone or gets their jaws on an uncooked one, it can splinter and cause injury. And, fat from a turkey can cause pancreatitis in a dog.
Beware of Onions, Garlic, Leeks, Scallions, and Dairy
Onions, garlic, leeks, scallions – any foods in that family – are a no-no. Onions and garlic may be present in mashed potatoes. Plain mashed potatoes are usually fine for dogs to eat, but it can become dangerous if they are seasoned with onions, garlic, and more.
If you think your pup really needs that warm-belly feeling you get from eating mashed potatoes, make them a little portion without any of the added ingredients. 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. Several dogs also do handle dairy well. So, if cheese is in any of your holiday dishes, they may need to be taken off the “yes” list.
Stay Away From Anything Containing Xylitol or Chocolate
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 because it tends to contain a lot of sugar.
Keep Alcohol Away and Be Careful with Herbs
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. You also want to be careful with herbs. Sage, in particular, can be toxic to dogs. There are some safe herbs and spices for dogs.
But, herbs are more dangerous to a dog if consumed in large quantities. So, if they’re being too nosy while you’re cooking, send them out of the kitchen or outside for some playtime. You can try to have them referee a game of touch football with other family members or guests.
5. Make a Dog-Friendly Thanksgiving Treat
If you want to make sure your dog feels like part of the family when you all sit down to eat, you can make them their own dog-friendly Thanksgiving treat to enjoy. Thankfully, there are plenty of Thanksgiving recipes for your dog that are safe. You can make them a Thanksgiving medley of safe foods, a dog-friendly pumpkin pie treat, turkey and cranberry treats, and more!
6. Properly Clean Up and Dispose of Trash
During the holidays, there will be a lot of cooking and a lot of people around the house. Make sure you are cleaning up and disposing of trash properly in order to keep it out of reach.
Also, make sure your visitors know where they need to put trash and their plates. This will help ensure no one is leaving dirty plates lying around within your dog’s reach.
Properly disposing of the turkey carcass and trimmings is particularly important as this can attract your dog as well as other animals or pests. Consider double-bagging the carcass before disposal to help cover the smell and avoid dripping as you take it out.
Cover it completely in the trash can or take it outside to a dumpster or a larger, sturdier can your dog cannot access. If you have a particularly persistent pooch or are in an area where wild animals are a concern, take your post-meal trash to the local dump to dispose of it.
With these Thanksgiving safety tips for dogs in mind, hopefully, you can take some of the stress out of the holidays and keep things safe and enjoyable for both you and your dog. Even if you think you’ve got this whole holiday thing under control, talking to your vet about Thanksgiving is still a good idea, especially if your pup has health problems or dietary restrictions.