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Thanksgiving Tips to keep your Dog out of Trouble


For those of us living in Canada, Thanksgiving is the start of the Fall/Winter holiday season. It’s a busy time – first Thanksgiving, then Halloween and Christmas and New Years as the grand finale. 

For our friends to the South the order is slightly different (with Halloween leading the way).

Whatever order your celebrations follow the fall and winter season can be a challenging time for pet owners. There is the risk your dog can get into potentially toxic foods and, with family and friends around, they may not get all of the attention they need.

Thanksgiving Foods

Pumpkin pie and turkey generally come to mind when we think about Thanksgiving but there are many other traditional holiday dishes that may cause problems for your dog. Chocolate comes to mind – it is toxic to dogs, and the darker the chocolate the more toxic it is.

The list of toxic holiday foods doesn’t stop there – a large number of traditional favourites are off limits to the four legged member of your family.

  • Garlic: Garlic is toxic to dogs and it goes without saying that the larger the amount the more toxic it is. So if you are adding garlic to your potatoes, veggies or other holiday foods make sure you keep them far away from your dog.
  • Onions: Onions and dogs do not mix – and not just because of the potential bad breath. Onions are toxic to dogs. A common ingredient in many Thanksgiving dinner dishes from stuffing to casseroles these items are best kept away from your dog.
  • Turkey: While small amounts of lean turkey are fine for your dog to eat, avoid feeding them any meat that has skin or seasonings on it. Fatty foods can cause stomach upset in your dog.
  • Grapes and Raisins: Many people like to add grapes to salads and raisins to their stuffing. Both of these items are toxic to your dog and can even be fatal if ingested.
  • Pumpkin Pie: While pumpkin can be healthy for dogs – and can even aid in digestion – pumpkin pie with its sugar and fat is a definite no no.
  • Chocolate: You’ve probably heard it before – chocolate is toxic for dogs. The darker the chocolate is (the more cocoa it contains) the more toxic it becomes.
  • Turkey Bones: Any cooked bones are dangerous for your pet! They may splinter while your dog consumes them and get caught in their digestive track.
  • Xylitol: This is an artificial sweetener that is used in some sugar free baking. It is highly toxic to dogs, so try to avoid baking with it if at all possible.
  • Alcohol: Dogs can experience Alcohol poisoning if they get into even a small amount of alcohol – so keep it out of reach of your pet.

When preparing and serving your Thanksgiving dinner be sure to take steps to ensure your dog does not accidentally ingest something harmful.

  • Keep foods out of reach of your dog and don’t leave your dog unattended in the kitchen while you are preparing or cleaning up.
  • Tell dinner guests not to sneak your dog table scraps.
  • Remind children not to feed the dog from the table.

If you do want to treat your dog to a special meal to celebrate the holiday consider taking a trip to your local pet supply and getting a raw bone or healthy chew for your dog to enjoy while your family eats dinner. If you are determined to share some of your meal consider giving them a small amount of raw pumpkin or some turkey breast with the skin removed.

What Should you do if Your Dog DOES Ingest a Harmful Food?

Don’t panic. If your dog does get into the Thanksgiving leftovers and you aren’t sure how serious it is you can call the

Animal Poison Control Hotline

Based in North America, this 24/7 hotline will ask you questions about your pet and the foods that they ate and determine if they can be monitored from home or if they require veterinary care. If they do require medical attention they will work with your Vet to ensure the best possible treatment. Note: there is a charge for the call.

Including Your Dog in the Celebrations

If you want to ensure a fun Thanksgiving for everyone plan some events that include your dog in the celebrations. A bored dog tends to get into trouble, so ensuring that your dog is exercised and entertained will go a long way to keeping them from getting underfoot and into your Thanksgiving meal.

Consider planning a family hike. Ever since I was a little girl my family has had a tradition of going for a hike on Thanksgiving weekend. This is a great family activity that everyone can enjoy – and bonus – it will leave you with a tired, happy dog.

If you live in the lower mainland, British Columbia, check out our directory listings to find a dog friendly hike near you.

No time for a hike? Consider hiring a dog walker to come in and exercise your dog while you are preparing the holiday meal.

Bring your dog a special treat. Keeping your dog occupied is key to making sure that they are not underfoot while meal preparations are under way. Before the holiday weekend take a trip to your favourite pet supply store for a special chew and present it to your dog on the holiday weekend.

Make sure your dog has a quiet retreat. Lots of family and friends around may be overwhelming to your dog. Make sure that your dog has a quiet place with a favourite bed, blanket and toys that they can retreat too and recharge their batteries.

By taking a few precautions and including your dog in your celebrations you can all have a healthy and happy holiday! Enjoy!

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