How To Keep Your Dog Safe At Thanksgiving

How To Keep Your Dog Safe at Thanksgiving

As a pet owner, you may be a bit anxious about Thanksgiving this year. Even though Thanksgiving is a fun time for family get-togethers (and a great chance to watch the Thanksgiving Day Dog Show), it poses many hazards for your beloved dog. 

However, if you’re careful and plan ahead, keeping your dog safe on Thanksgiving shouldn’t be a huge issue. In fact, it should be pretty easy to keep your dog safe if you follow these simple tips for:

  • Safe Food Preparation
  • Safe Social Situations
  • Safe Decor Options

Ways To Keep Your Dog Safe on Thanksgiving

There are a few areas of Thanksgiving prep that could provide health and safety hazards to your pup. Let’s take a closer look.

1. Safe Food Preparation

Probably the first thing you think of when considering Thanksgiving safety is what Thanksgiving foods your dog can and can’t eat. There are several foods that they should avoid, including the following. 

  • Turkey bones. It may be tempting to allow your dog to chew on a turkey bone while you’re eating dinner, but it’s not a good idea. Turkey bones are choking hazards and can also cause internal damage in dogs because they’re difficult to digest. 
  • Raw bread dough. If you’re making rolls, be sure to keep the raw dough away from your dog. Dog stomachs aren’t made to digest yeast well, and the dough will swell in their stomach and cause obstruction and distress. 
  • Garlic, onions, and chives. If you’re using these in your potatoes or stuffing, just be careful to keep them out of reach. These allium vegetables are toxic to dogs.
  • Fatty foods. Dogs don’t need fatty foods and too much fat can cause inflammation in the dog’s pancreas or other digestive organs, leading to severe illness. 
  • Xylitol. Xylitol is a common sweetener used to replace sugar in sugar-free items, but it is toxic to dogs. Check labels carefully and keep anything too sugary away from your pet. 
  • Nutmeg and cinnamon. Nutmeg and cinnamon can both be toxic to dogs, so it’s best to keep your pet away from pumpkin pie or any other spiced desserts. 
  • Chocolate. You probably already know that chocolate can cause serious damage to your pet, yet it’s still a commonly ingested toxin. Keep an eye on your dog when they’re around any chocolate treats! 
  • Nuts and sodium. While not toxic, high amounts of sodium are bad for you dog just as they can be for humans. Nuts can provide a choking hazard and do nothing to improve your dog’s health; too many can also cause kidney damage and other intestinal distress.
  • Alcohol. Any amount of alcohol is unsafe for your dog, so keep it as far away as possible. 

There are some foods that you can share with your pet, of course. Popular Thanksgiving foods that your dog may enjoy include:

  • Turkey meat without a lot of fat, sodium, or bones.
  • Pumpkin prepared without add-ins (but don’t let your dog eat the pumpkin on your porch as raw pumpkin can cause digestive distress).
  • Sweet potatoes and regular potatoes without add-ins (sweet potatoes especially are a great source of fiber and vitamins!).
  • Apples without the core and seeds.
  • Green beans and peas, which also contain vitamins and fiber. 

If you think your dog may have eaten something unsafe, there are a few symptoms to watch for:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Excessive drooling
  • Loss of appetite
  • Constipation 
  • Bloating
  • Dehydration
  • Shock


If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your vet right away. 

2. Safe Social Situations

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving or visiting a large group of people, it’s important to consider your dog’s level of social comfort. Many dogs get anxious around crowds of people, especially if those people are invading your home. 

Here are a few tips to help your dog enjoy Thanksgiving without becoming too anxious.

  1. Take them out for exercise. Try to get a long walk in with your dog before guests arrive to tire them out a bit and give them a little extra joy. That way, they should feel happier and more relaxed when the party starts.
  2. Block exits. Stressed dogs may decide to make a run for it, so do your best to keep your dog away from open doors and block off any windows or outlets that they might be able to squeeze through if they start to panic.
  3. Provide a safe space. Starting a week or so before Thanksgiving, create a safe space for your dog to go and relax somewhere quiet and private. That way, when people start coming, you can take your dog to their spot and let them relax a little.
  4. Consider medication. Some dogs can’t handle anxiety-inducing events no matter what you do. In such a case, you may want to ask your vet for an anxiety medication that would be safe for your dog to take to help them relax while you engage with company. 

3. Safe Decor Options

Decorating for Thanksgiving and Christmas is extremely fun. However, it’s important that you still keep your home safe for your dog even while you’re putting up all the fun decorations. There are many plants (ranging from holly to acorns to red maple leaves) that are toxic to dogs. 

Other decorations that could be unsafe include candles and any small item that could be a choking hazard if your dog decided to try it as a snack. As mentioned, raw pumpkin can also cause illness in pups. 

Have a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving

If you follow these tips, you should be able to secure a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday for you and your dog. Just remember the main points:

  • Keep toxic and dangerous foods out of reach.
  • Give your dog safe foods to help them join in the fun.
  • Provide a safe space and plenty of exercise to help your dog relax.
  • Keep dangerous plants and decor out of your house or your dog’s living space. 

By following these simple tips, you can protect your dog from any dangerous situations and enjoy the holiday season with your loved ones. 

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