Thanksgiving is almost upon us and you know what that means?! Food, family, friends, and so much more. For dog parents though, it means a lot more than just that. For dog parents, Thanksgiving means that we have to be vigilant and ready to deal with dog’s anxiety and a list of dangers related to this holiday. It’s important to think ahead on how to keep your dog safe on Thanksgiving.
These dangers tend to increase when you decide to host a Thanksgiving gathering at your home. If you are ready to learn all about keeping your dog safe over Thanksgiving, we are going to break it down for you here to help you deal with the holiday while keeping your dog safe, happy and healthy.
Table of Contents
- 1 Keep your dog safe on Thanksgiving
Keep your dog safe on Thanksgiving
If you are planning on hosting a Thanksgiving dinner at your home, make sure you prepare yourself and your household for keeping your dog safe on Thanksgiving. You can do this by following a couple of tips.
Know your dog
Before planning your Thanksgiving celebration, ask yourself a couple of questions about your dog to help better plan around them and their needs. Here is an example of some of those questions:
- Does your dog become anxious around strangers?
- Is your dog familiar with children and how to behave around them?
- Does your dog beg at the table or around food?
- Does your dog become anxious when you have people in your home?
Knowing the answer to these questions can help you to make decisions for your dog this holiday.
Become familiar with your guests
Now that you have thought about what to expect with your dog, it’s time to think about the guests that you will have in your home. Now it’s time to ask yourself or them the following questions:
- Are your guests familiar with your dog/dogs?
- Are your guests familiar with dogs at all?
- Will your guests be bringing their own dog and if so, do they know the rules of the house?
- Do you know that your guests will follow the rules of the house and the rules you have for your pet (no feeding the dog table scraps, no petting the dog, etc)?
Set a rule regarding table scraps
Dogs should not eat table scraps at any point, but especially on Thanksgiving. Dogs can easily get sick from all of the different types of food that is available on the holiday.
You can read our post on safe foods for dogs if you want to be able to treat your dog a little bit. And here is a list of some foods that can be toxic to your dog or at least can cause stomach issues:
- Cooked or roasted bones (they can splinter and cause a choking hazard)
- Fatty foods
- Garlic (this can be toxic in large enough quantities)
- Grapes and raisins
- Hot foods in general (just like you can burn your mouth on food that is too hot, your dog can get injured as well and also keep them away from the hot oven)
- Onions and scallions
- Raw bread dough (although cooked bread isn’t great either in large quantities, although if your dogs are like mine, they just love biscuits so it’s hard not to share a taste)
- Twine (be careful of your dog getting access to any twine that you wrap around your ham or turkey)
- Walnuts (while not necessarily toxic to dogs, walnuts can cause intestinal distress and many people use walnuts in their stuffing recipes, so be sure and keep a lookout for it)
- Xylitol (this is often used as a sugar substitute but it’s toxic to dogs)
Knowing how toxic many holiday foods can be is reason enough to follow a no-table scraps rule on Thanksgiving. But in case of any emergencies, you should be familiar with some first-aid tips.
Keep food and drinks out of dog’s reach
We have already talked about setting a rule of not feeding table scraps to your dog, but you also have to think about making sure the dog can’t get to the food on their own. Of course it is best to teach our dogs to stay out of food and drinks well in advance of the holiday, however, if your dog tends to be sneaky about food, it’s best to be sure and keep all holiday foods and drinks out of the reach of the dog. Keep all foods stored high and out of reach.
This is important because, as mentioned before, as some foods and drinks can be toxic to dogs. Additionally, as any dog owner can attest, a dog getting into food that is left too close to them is a formula for disaster.
It’s also important not to forget the things around your house that could potentially be a danger. You might want to put a sign in your bathroom to remind guest to put down the toilet seat, especially if you have any chemicals in your toilet bowl. And guests may bring plants as gifts so make sure they aren’t poisonous to your pets.
Keep your dog away from any open doors
When there are people coming and going at your house, that means that your doors are often open up. Additionally, if you have a smaller space, it is easy for it to get HOT in the house. All of these can keep your doors opened much more often. You want to keep your dogs away from these open doors to prevent them from going out when they are not supposed to. A dog running outside combined with them having heavy stress and anxiety can be disastrous.
Move their crate or bed to a “safe space”
Does your dog tend to spend a lot of time in their crate/kennel or bed? Where is this placed in your home? It’s a good idea to move their crate or bed to a “safe space” that is away from guests. This will allow your dog to relax in their own comforting place, while allowing them space away from the guests that are making them nervous.
You should move their crate about a week or so before the event so that your dog gets used to the new location. In our home, Dylan needs to be crated when there are strangers around. But, he also likes to see what’s going on. He likes to be in the safety of his crate but still wants to feel like he’s a part of the action. So, we tell guests ahead of time that he will be happily crated in view and that while he looks all sweet and innocent, not to stick their fingers into the crate.
Get active with your dog in advance
Exercise is an amazing way of creating positive behavior in dogs. That’s why it is so helpful in keeping your dog healthy and happy even in stressful situations such as a holiday celebration. That’s right, dogs need to exercise for their mental health too. And as the saying goes—a tired dog is a good dog!!
Make sure that you don’t get so busy with Thanksgiving preparations that you neglect spending time and burning off energy with your pup. Days like this are the perfect time to spend extra time helping your dog burn off that extra energy and prevent it from turning into extra anxiety and negative behaviors.
I always find that it’s a good idea to head out on a long walk or head to the dog park a couple of hours in advance of the festivities. It ensures that they don’t have pent up energy as guests begin to arrive.
Also, don’t forget to take them out to go potty before guests arrive as well. That “got to go” anxiety isn’t fun to deal with when you have a house full of people.
Don’t be afraid to separate your dog
Do you have a cozy space in your home that your dog likes to relax? Why not block this part of your home off to allow your dog to stay in the room and away from the anxiety of guests, food, noise, etc.
While you may feel bad leaving your dog out of the festivities, this may be an all around good option for you and the dog. It will save you time and work, and it will save the dog from becoming overly stressed and anxious, and potentially ill from tempting food.
Or if possible, you can gate off a room so that your dog can still see everyone’s comings and goings but still be separated.
Also, now is not the time to test your dog’s tolerance of small children or babies. If your dog has never been around small children and you don’t feel comfortable, it may be best to keep your dog separate from the little humans.
As you can see, you have a lot of options when it comes to keeping your dog safe on Thanksgiving. Just prepare yourself and have a wonderful holiday!