Thanksgiving is a truly wonderful holiday, with plenty of food and family time, but if you are a dog owner, then you need to be aware of all potential hazards that Thanksgiving can inflict upon your dog. This time can be really stressful for dogs, especially if you are hosting a Thanksgiving dinner with a lot of guests, and if you are not careful, your dog can be harmed by various factors.
We will take a look at some of those things and what you can do to make sure that your dog enjoys Thanksgiving as much as you. Whether you're traveling with your dog or inviting family and friends into your home, there are a number of things that you need to pay special attention to.
You need to be aware of many aspects of Thanksgiving safety for your pet, including:
- food safety
- safety in a crowd
- travel safety
I know the holidays are a very busy time, but you need to be sure that your giving your pet the extra attention that he will undoubtedly need. Holiday events are busy and chaotic. Following these tips should help you have a happy and safe holiday with your canine companion.
Top Dog Thanksgiving Safety Tips for Pet Owners
1. Food Safety
The biggest source of dog accidents in Thanksgiving time is due to food poisoning and statistics show that during holidays the number of dogs that get food poisoning jumps through the roof. Sharing your Thanksgiving dinner with your pooch can be a nice way to show appreciation, but if you want to do this, you need to be aware which food is good for your dog and which not.
It is always best to prepare special dog treats and dinner for your canine friend, but you can also feed him some of the traditional Thanksgiving food if you are careful. First of all, if you want to feed your dog Thanksgiving turkey, you should only give him white, lean meat. Avoid giving him red meat and especially turkey skin since it is probably spiced and seasoned.
Another thing to be careful of are cooked bones, since they present a choking hazard for dogs. Even if your dog swallows a cooked bone without problems, they can also poke holes in his stomach lining and cause serious digestive problems. Also, avoid feeding your dog with raw turkey, because it can contain salmonella.
Don’t feed your dog gravy or stuffing, and avoid giving them anything that has been seasoned or has a lot of sugar, like green beans casserole, pumpkin pie, cranberry or apple sauce, sweet potato pie, etc. All these vegetables and fruits are fine if you give them raw or steamed plainly – apples, cranberry, pumpkin, green beans, sweet potato – but you need to be careful of nuts, grapes and raisins.
Avoid chocolate, onions, fatty foods and sugar as well as bread and cookie dough for your dog.
Of course, don’t give any alcohol to your dog either. On the other hand, make sure that they have plenty of fresh water. It can slip your mind to give water to your dog later when the preparation chaos ensues and guests arrive, so do it before and provide the water in a greater amount than usual for this reason.
2. Cover All Possibilities
Now that you know which foods are bad for your dog’s health, you also need to make sure that they will stay safe. First of all, you should point out to your guests that they shouldn’t give your dog any Thanksgiving food.
Another thing to do is to find someone who can play with your dog during dinner. It is better to do this than to lock him in another room where he will still be able to smell all those delicious treats, which can make him stressed out. You could also keep him entertained with a toy or a treat.
Feed your dog before you sit for your meal, that way he will be full and less eager to get to some of your food.
Keep in mind that not just food is dangerous to your dog when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner. Some items like wrapping in which the food comes (aluminum foil, cellophane), corn cobs, baking strings, and holiday decorations like candles or flowers can also be hazardous. That is why you need to keep these things away from your dog.
Don’t forget to be extra cautious with your garbage can. Dogs will often sniff something nice in it and go through the trash, even if they don’t regularly do this. Keep your trash can out of the reach from your dog or make sure that it has a secure lid.
In case that something happens, call your vet immediately. Every second can be important and that is why you should keep your vet’s phone number on hand at Thanksgiving.
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3. Make It Fun and Safe In A Crowd
Dogs can be stressed out by large groups of people and if you are having guests for dinner. You need to take certain steps to make sure that your dog will be comfortable and safe.
First of all, you should make sure that your dog can handle all the buzz. If Fido spends a lot of time alone, or in company of just a few people, chances are that he will be overwhelmed by a large crowd. You should let him be alone and away from all the chatter and chaos, especially if there are a lot of children present as well.
Put him in another room where he can feel safe. That can also be easier for you, since you will most surely be busy waiting on people and talking with them.
Also, make sure that you supervise children when they are around your dog. Kids can be unintentionally rough and they might not know how to handle your dog in a way that won’t make him uncomfortable, so you need to keep an eye on all their interactions and contacts.
Provide your guests with some basic rules and guidelines on how to greet, treat and handle your dog. Many of them can make a mistake out of best intentions, and if your dog is not so comfortable around strangers usually, take things slowly.
Don’t try to force him to interact with your guests and try to read his body language to make sure that he is comfortable.
Give your dog some toys to play with and make some time to take him for a walk or play with him, especially after a big meal. A brisk walk and exercise will be good for both of you and it will help your dog feel comfortable if you maintain your daily routine.
Also, pay attention to how much your dog eats and don’t let him snack all day long. Even healthy foods can be hard on his stomach if he ingests too much.
4. Safe Decorations for Dogs
As we briefly mentioned before, holiday decorations can be dangerous for your dog and you need to be careful if you want to avoid any incidents and accidents. AVMA says the biggest threat that comes with Thanksgiving decorations is electrocution.
Decorative lights and other electronic decorations can be extremely dangerous for your pooch and you need to make sure that all of your cables are properly secured, or at least well-hidden and out of the reach for your dog. Dogs will put basically anything in their mouth, and you need to make sure that he doesn’t get a chance to become tempted to chew on a cable.
Also, take care of any dangling lights and decorations since they can also be seen as a potential chew toy by your dog. Secure them and make sure that your dog can’t reach them. It is probably the best to keep your dog out of that area completely.
If you are going to somebody else's house for Thanksgiving dinner, it is possible that they have put up some Christmas decorations as well. This is often the case with some Christmas plants as well, which can be poisonous to dogs. Mistletoe, holly berries, poinsettias – they are all a big potential hazard for your pet.
Candles and glass ornaments can also be a hazard. Your dog could easily knock them over and cause a hazard. Tipped candles can cause a fire, and a broken glass ornament could become a serious problem if your dog ingests it or steps on it.
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5. Traveling Safely with Your Dog
If you are visiting your family or friends in another town for Thanksgiving and you want to bring your dog with you, then you have to make sure that he will be safe and comfortable on his travel. The first thing you have to do is to make sure that your dog has a collar with an ID tag.
Equipping your pet with an ID tag is really, really important if you plan to travel with him. This is a good safety tip if you are hosting your own Thanksgiving dinner, too. You never know when your dog could sneak out unnoticeably with so many people coming in and going out of your home.
Make sure that Fido’s microchip is up to date. Remember, even if you are extremely careful, you can still end up losing your dog when you travel. That’s just the way it is, and having an updated microchip can be of a great help if that happens.
Also, never leave your dog inside your car, even for a short time. Regardless of the weather conditions, this is not a safe practice.
Remember that you need to have a health certificate from your veterinarian for your dog if you’re traveling across state lines or international borders, regardless of the means of transportation. Also, if you plan to travel by air, visit your vet and make sure that your dog can handle the flight since some breeds, particularly short-nosed dogs, are at risk if they travel by air.
If you are traveling without your dog, you need to leave him with a person that you can trust, whether that is one of your closest friends, or a kennel or a dog boarder. Don’t ever leave your pet home alone, especially if you will be gone for more than a day. The potential for accidents is too high and you shouldn’t risk anything.
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