It’s almost Thanksgiving, which means you have to worry about menu planning, shopping, cooking, decorating your house, entertaining your guests–oh yes–and managing your dog on Turkey Day. Even the calmest, most well-trained dog can go a little crazy amongst the bustling guests and delicious food smells on Thanksgiving. To keep your dog safe this coming holiday, follow the eight tips below.
Avoid Problematic Foods
Just because your dog is begging relentlessly for food doesn’t mean that it’s safe to give to her. Avoid any raw, uncooked or undercooked foods, including batter, bread dough, and turkey as they may be harboring salmonella if they contain eggs or meat. Yeast dough poses other risks, since the yeast will convert sugar in the dough into carbon dioxide and alcohol even after your pet ingests it. This can make your dog bloated and drunk at the same time and potentially become a life-threatening emergency. So, keep an eye on the food and, when in doubt, don’t give it to your dog.
Use Leftovers Wisely
Even fully-cooked leftovers can pose a risk to dogs. Turkey carcasses offer a serious choking hazard, so if you do want to give your dog meat scraps, make sure that they are fully cooked, cut into bite-sized pieces and don’t contain any bones. Always give dogs human food in small portions only and avoid dishes that are heavy in spices or overly fatty, as this can upset dogs’ stomachs. If you do determine that you have leftovers safe to give your dog, mix them in with dry food at dinner time or put them into a puzzle toy to distract your dog while you do the dishes. Also, make sure that the trash is completely secured so that your dog can’t get into it behind your back.
Consider Alternative Treats
While giving dogs scraps may be a time-honored tradition, you don’t have to feed your dog human food if you’d rather not for safety or health reasons. There are plenty of fun, special, fall-themed treats out there created especially for dogs that won’t pose any digestive problems at all. Get into the spirit of the holiday with turkey-flavored chews and dog treats or sweet potato-flavored beef jerky. Just be sure to give your dog the treats away from the kitchen or dining room so that you don’t reinforce begging.
Include Dogs in Non-food Activities
You can still make your dog feel like part of Thanksgiving without having to feed them anything. Cuddle up on the couch together to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, throw the football around the yard if it’s fenced or do a family photo shoot and include your pup, too. In fact, it’s a good thing for both dogs and people to have some Turkey Day activities that don’t revolve around food, so this is an opportunity to make some new memories together as humans and canines alike.
Watch The Exits
Most people have guests over for Thanksgiving, which means lots of people going in and out of the door at all times. Keep an eye on the doors and ask guests to do the same, as well as to ensure that the door is closed behind them each time. A curious dog can nudge a cracked door open pretty easily and then get out. In case the worst happens, make sure your dog is wearing a secure collar with updated tags, and a microchip is a foolproof backup in case your dog slips out of his collar.
Keep An Eye on Decorations
Doors aren’t the only potential hazards you need to watch on Thanksgiving—decorations also pose all kinds of risks to dogs. Decorations with small pieces that can be chewed off are a choking hazard, while candles are a fire hazard. Various paints and materials can also be poisonous to dogs. Putting decorations out of your dog’s reach is a good first step, but dogs can always knock or pull things down to their level so keep an eye on them so they don’t get into any mischief.
Notify Guests Ahead of Time
Letting your guests know that your dog will be present is a basic courtesy—you never know who might be allergic. This will also open the lines of communication so your guests can let you know if they have any boundaries around pets. For example, some people like dogs just fine, but really don’t appreciate being jumped on, especially if the dog is large. By having these conversations ahead of time, you’ll be able to keep both your guests and your dog safe, especially during the initial meet-and-greet.
Manage Your Dog’s Anxiety, If Necessary
Sometimes it’s not your guests you need to be concerned about–it’s your dog. Some pups get really anxious, upset or shy around strangers or large groups of people. If you think your pup might have dog anxiety, talk to your vet about potential solutions for Thanksgiving Day. Possible options may include calming dog treats or CBD biscuits to help your dog relax naturally and/or puzzle toys to keep them distracted. Of course, giving your pup plenty of loving attention and making them feel safe and secure can also go a long way.
Any holiday, including Thanksgiving, can be stressful, but keeping your dog safe doesn’t have to be a source of that stress. Pups can get into all sorts of mischief, especially when there are open doors and delicious food around, but if you’re proactive you can head off many disasters before they start. Follow these eight safety tips to get you and your dog through Thanksgiving in one piece.