Pet parents’ guide to celebrating Thanksgiving with your dog

Thanksgiving festivities can be fun for the whole family but can also carry some hazards for our pets. The holiday tends to coincide with increased numbers of veterinarian visits due to food and other safety risks, notes the American Kennel Club. Spending Thanksgiving with your dog? Between holiday parties, travel, and lots of food, it is important for pet owners to know how to keep their furry family members safe, happy, and healthy on Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving food safety

For many people, the Thanksgiving meal is the main event of the holiday. With so many delicious smells wafting from the kitchen, dogs get excited about the food, too. Many of the staple Thanksgiving dishes can be dangerous for pets, however, so it is important to keep human dishes out of your dog’s reach.

  • Turkey – Overindulging in the family feast can be unhealthy for humans, but even worse for pets. Fatty foods like turkey skin are hard for animals to digest and even a small amount can cause a painful and life-threatening case of pancreatitis in dogs. Additionally, poultry bones can damage your pet’s digestive tract and turkeys are often seasoned with herbs and spices that are toxic to pets. Dispose of turkey carcasses and bones in a covered, tightly secured trash bag placed in a closed trash container outdoors.
  • Other rich, fatty foods – Many holiday favorites such as butter, cream, gravy, and bacon can also cause pancreatitis. Better to be safe than sorry when it comes to notoriously decadent Thanksgiving dishes—keep all food up and out of your dog’s reach and seek immediate veterinary care if your dog ingests any potentially dangerous foods.
  • Garlic, onion, leeks, and chives – These seasonings are common in many Thanksgiving dishes and are toxic to pets. They can cause destruction of your dog’s red blood cells, leading to anemia and gastrointestinal upset. Avoid giving your pet a bite of anything cooked with these ingredients, like green beans, potatoes, stuffing, or gravy.
  • Desserts – Holiday treats, particularly chocolate, can be harmful to pets. Many of these dishes contain xylitol, an artificial sweetener commonly used in sugar-free baked goods. Even small amounts of xylitol can cause dangerously low blood sugar, seizures, liver failure, or even death in dogs. If you want to give your dog a safe, festive treat, consider sweet potatoes or pumpkin!

Holiday travel with your dog

People travel all over the country for the Thanksgiving holiday, often bringing their pets along to visit with family and friends. Whether you are bringing your dog with you or leaving them at home, there are some important holiday travel considerations for pets.



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