Thanksgiving is only a week away. Last week I gave some pointers for traveling with your dog on Thanksgiving, and this week I'd like to discuss some general dog safety tips to keep in mind on the holiday. Thanksgiving may not seem like a dangerous time for pets, but with all the visitors, traveling and food that is involved it can actually be quite unsafe. Keep these tips in mind this week as you make your holiday preparations.
In just seven days, tables and counter tops around the country will be covered with all sorts of delicious food. Homes will be filled with family and friends, and more Americans will be traveling by plane, train and car than on most other days of the year. It's hard not to drool over the smorgasbord of food that is displayed, but you're not the only one. Chances are, your Fido has his eye on the feast as well.
It isn't just the food that could be a danger to your dog. You'll be busy, your house may be full of people, or you might be traveling. All of these options will bring with them a lot of hazards for your canine companion. You'll have to think about everything in your home, from the extra garbage to the holiday decorations.
Thanksgiving Safety Tips for Dogs
If you eat a little too much on Thanksgiving day, you'll likely feel bloated and tired. Eating too many goodies may leave you with a stomachache, but after a short nap or a break on the couch watching the first half of a football game you'll be feeling much better. If your dog gets into the food, it could mean more than just an upset belly. You may be looking at a trip to the emergency veterinary clinic and a bill for a few hundred dollars.
Food Safety for Dogs
Turkey is good for dogs, right? Yes and no. The turkey meat itself isn't a bad snack for your Fido, but you need to be sure that it is skin and bone free. Bones can be a choking hazard, and if your pet manages to swallow one it could wreak havoc on his stomach. Bones can poke or tear holes in the stomach lining and cause major digestive issues. Raw turkey can also be a danger as it may contain salmonella bacteria.
Bread dough is also a no-no for pets. When ingested, the yeast in the dough will continue to convert the sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide gas. This can lead to a drunk and bloated dog, and will certainly require a trip to the vet. Grapes and raisins contain a toxin that can cause kidney damage in canines. Ingesting these will warrant a trip to the emergency vet too.
Did you know that onions and onion powder are common ingredients in stuffing and seasonings? Both will destroy your dog's red blood cells, which can lead to a severe case of anemia. Chocolate, fatty foods and sugary treats also must be avoided.
It's not just the food at a Thanksgiving that is dangerous either. The wrapping that the food comes in can also be extremely hazardous. Aluminum foil, wax paper and cellophane can all be choking hazards – especially when they have bits of food and lots of yummy smells stuck to them.
You'll need to be extra cautious of your garbage can too. Even dogs who aren't trash hounds may be tempted to pull something out of the garbage can if it smells like a delicious Thanksgiving treat. Food scraps that have been thrown away may be just the motivation that a well-behaved dog needs to go on a trash eating spree. Make sure your trash can has a secure lid or keep it up out of reach.
There are lots of things that your pet can't have at Thanksgiving dinner, but one thing he needs is fresh water. Sometimes with a house full of people and a lot of preparations to complete it becomes easy to forget to fill the water bowl. Assign someone the task of checking your pet's water dish throughout the day. Perhaps an older child who won't have other responsibilities and will be sure to get the job done.
Being Safe with Company
Your house is sure to be full on Thanksgiving, and if you're lucky enough to spend the holiday at someone else's house it is sure to be packed there too. Whether a lot of people are coming into your home or you're bringing your pet traveling to someone else's home, you'll need to understand the extra stress that it is going to put on your dog.
New people, new smells, lots of commotion and a very busy environment will make for a dog's worst nightmare – especially for a dog that already has anxiety issues. Make sure that your Fido has a safe and quiet place to retreat to when the hoopla becomes too much for him. If your pet doesn't do well in stressful situations, you may want to keep him confined to a quiet area in your home just to be safe.
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It's not just the dangers of having a stressed out canine in the midst of a lot of unfamiliar people, you also need to think about your dog's well-being. Put yourself in Fido's shoes. He'll be surrounded by new people, and there will probably be at least a few kids running around. There will be lots of new smells and temptations, and just think about all the noise.
Providing your dog with a safe and quiet place is the best option. You can give him an interactive treat dispensing toy to occupy him. KONG toys, or a similar variety, are a great choice. You can fill them with peanut butter or wet dog food and place them in the freezer overnight. Then when it's time for company to begin arriving you can give your dog his frozen treat and he'll be occupied for hours.
Safe Decorations for Dogs
Decorations can pose a lot of safety issues for canines. The biggest threat is electrocution. If you have decorative lights, inflatable lawn ornaments or other electronic decorations, they can be dangerous for your dog. Be sure all the cords are hidden or properly secured – just in case your pup gets the urge to chew.
You'll also need to keep any dangling lights or decorations secured. If it's possible that your dog could see the decoration as a chew toy, you'll want to make sure that you secure it in an area that he won't be able to reach.
Although it is only Thanksgiving, many people have begun decorating for the Christmas holiday already. Keep in mind that many plants are poisonous to dogs. Poinsettias, mistletoe and holly berries are all toxic to canines. Glass ornaments and candles can also mean big trouble for dogs. They can easily be knocked over and broken glass could fly everywhere. Candles could also be a fire hazard if knocked over.
Keep Thanksgiving Safe for Everyone
If you have any doubts about your dogs behavior in a crowd or with unfamiliar people, take the safe route and keep him in a safe, quiet, secure location like a bedroom or a kennel. If your dog will be roaming free throughout the house, speak with your guests who don't know the rules for dogs in your house.
Let everyone know that Fido needs his space, and be sure that parents are monitoring their children around the dog at all times. Be sure to tell your guests that your dog is not allowed table food also. Well meaning guests may give your dog something he isn't supposed to have or he may be fed a large amount of food that will make his belly sick later.
Thanksgiving is a time to spend with friends and family. It's a time to appreciate all the things that we take for granted throughout the year. What is a dog owner more thankful for than the unconditional love of their canine companion? It's understandable that you'd want to spend the day with your Fido, but make sure that you follow the proper precautions to keep the day safe for your dog and your house guests.