Thanksgiving offers an opportunity to celebrate with family and friends. But don’t forget your four-legged family members, and use Thanksgiving safety tips to protect them.
Nothing would ruin the festivities more than an emergency trip to the vet. So, Dr. Amber Karwacki, a Heart + Paw veterinarian, offers Thanksgiving safety tips to protect your dog.
Karwacki urges dog parents to be cautious when decorating with traditional fall plants. Some can be toxic for dogs, like Autumn Crocus, Chrysanthemums (also known as mums), and acorns from oak trees.
Contact your vet immediately if you think your dog chewed on one of these plants.
To be safe, decorate with tiny pumpkins or pine cones and keep them out of your dog’s reach.
Keep guests and dogs safe
During the pandemic, many people skipped large gatherings, and their dogs may not be used to spending time with strangers.
Or, you adopted a new dog who isn’t used to strangers entering the house.
First, you need to protect your dog. Don’t force a nervous or anxious dog to interact with strangers. Instead, Karwacki recommends keeping your dog in a separate room with their toys, bed, and water bowl.
If your dog is overly anxious, ask your vet if medication like Trazodone or pheromone therapy will help calm your dog.
If your dog is calm and well-behaved and you decide to let him join the celebration, make sure guests know your rules and don’t try to slip your dog any food.
Let insistent guests give your pup safe, approved treats like dried sweet potato slices, banana slices, apple slices, or fresh green beans.
But if your dog is a shameless beggar, don’t let him be in the room during the meal.
Even if your dog is well-behaved, if you’re serving buffet-style, consider crating your dog or putting him in another room while people fill their plates.
Choose safe Thanksgiving foods
Thanksgiving safety tips: Keep an eye on your dog if you have food on the counter. Dogs are opportunists who won’t be shy about helping themselves if they can get away with it.
While a slice of turkey is safe for your dog to eat, don’t let your pup eat turkey skin or dark meat. Both are high in fat, which is hard for dogs to digest, Karwacki says.
Also, remember garlic, onions, mushrooms, and chives are toxic for dogs.
Other dangerous foods include:
Nuts: Keep pecans, almonds, walnuts, and macadamia nuts out of reach. Eating nuts can cause inflammation of the pancreas and even deadly pancreatitis.
Alcohol: The smell of wine draws some dogs, but ingesting even a small amount can be life-threatening.
Raisins or grapes: Can cause kidney failure.
Unbaked dough with yeast: Can cause fatal stomach bloat.
Sweets or baked goods: Be especially careful if buying or making items with the artificial sweetener xylitol, also known as birch sugar. Going sugar-free using xylitol can cause liver failure and death. Chocolate and spices like nutmeg also are dangerous, so don’t give your dog any pumpkin pie.
Stick to safe foods for your dog. Give your dog healthy Thanksgiving treats like a slice of white meat turkey. Other traditional Thanksgiving foods safe for dogs include baked sweet potatoes (just plain, no brown sugar, nuts, or marshmallows) or fresh green beans.
Dog-safe foods that you could give your dog at Thanksgiving include:
- Pumpkin or squash
- Mashed potatoes
Remember, too much of even healthy snacks can cause gastrointestinal upset for your dog. While it might seem like dogs can eat almost anything, it often takes little to throw their systems off balance. To avoid an upset stomach, or worse, vomiting and diarrhea, limit any extras on Thanksgiving.
Take advantage of leftovers
If you quickly get tired of leftover turkey, consider turning white meat turkey, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, homemade cranberry sauce, and more into healthy dog food using leftover turkey recipes.
Thanksgiving debris like turkey carcasses, bones, or string can be dangerous if eaten. Clear them off your counters and take the trash out.
Karwacki also recommends checking your counters to see if you’ve got food there. Dogs are opportunists who won’t be shy about helping themselves if they can get away with it.
Especially beware of turkey bones and other choking hazards.
Bottomline on Thanksgiving safety tips
Make sure you include your dog in your Thanksgiving plans.
Choose dog-safe decorations, make sure you have plenty of dog-safe food on hand, and put the trash out.
If your dog is nervous around new people, don’t force him to interact. Instead, keep him in a safe space like his crate or a separate room during the feast.
If your dog is friendly, you can let him join the celebration, but ensure guests know not to give your dog any unsafe foods.
Sara B. Hansen has spent 20-plus years as a professional editor and writer. She’s also the author of The Complete Guide to Cocker Spaniels. She decided to create her dream job by launching DogsBestLife.com in 2011. Sara grew up with family dogs, and since she bought her first house, she’s had a furry companion or two to help make it a home. She shares her heart and home with Nutmeg, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi. Her previous dogs: Sydney (September 2008-April 2020), Finley (November 1993-January 2008), and Browning (May 1993-November 2007). You can reach Sara @ [email protected].