How to have a happy and safe Thanksgiving with your dogs
The holidays are a wonderful time to give thanks for all the blessing in our lives, including our awesome dogs. While Thanksgiving is a celebration enjoyed across the country, the holiday does present some safety concerns for our four legged friends.
Preparing The Meal
The majority of the action at any Thanksgiving celebration happens in the kitchen. Cooking a Thanksgiving feast is busy work and having a dog around your feet can be very dangerous. You could trip over them and seriously injury both the dog and yourself. You could also drop something hazardous and before you can grab it, it’s ingested by a curious pup.
So much stress, injury and illness can be avoided if you keep your dog out of the kitchen during this busy time. I like to take my dogs on a long walk before I start to cook and then put them in their crates (or another room) to sleep while I prepare the meal.
Here are some common Thanksgiving foods that can be dangerous to dogs:
Please note that I am not a veterinarian nor am I a veterinary technician. I’m an experienced dog owner and Canadian Kennel Club member. These are my tips for a safer Thanksgiving with your dog. If you believe your dog has been poisoned or eaten something she shouldn’t have, call your veterinarian or local veterinary emergency clinic immediately. Quick action can save lives.
Fatty foods such as butter, bacon, meat drippings, gravies and other meat scraps may seem harmless, but in large quantities, these foods have the potential to pose very real threats of pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas that can result in clinical signs of vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite and abdominal pain. Symptoms may not be immediate and can occur up to 4 days after exposure. Nuts are also high in fat and carry the risk of pancreatitis. Macadamia nuts are more serious as ingestions can result in vomiting, diarrhea, inability to walk properly.
Brining is the process of covering a cut of meat in a brine solution (salt dissolved in water). The meat absorbs extra liquid and salt, resulting in a juicier and more flavourful final dish. This technique is particularly great for lean cuts of meat that tend to dry out during cooking- like turkey. When the turkey is removed it is crucial to discard safely of the brine as this salt-saturated solution can be very enticing to dogs, who will readily lap it up which can result in salt toxicosis. Clinical signs are excessive thirst and urination, vomiting and diarrhea. This can potentially result in serious electrolyte changes and brain swelling.
Most dog owners know that chocolate is toxic to dogs. Since many of our Thanksgiving desserts feature chocolate, it’s important to make this reminder. As you may know, the darker the chocolate, the more serious the ingestion, and the less they will need to ingest to develop clinical signs of vomiting, diarrhea, agitation, tremors, increased heart rate along with potential seizures.
Xylitol – an artificial sweetener
Any foods that are sweetened with an artificial sweetener called xylitol are dangerous to our dogs. Xylitol can result in a rapid drop in blood sugar in dogs along with liver damage. Xylitol can be found in sugar-free gums, mints, and dental products but is also commonly used in sugar-free or low-sugar baked goods and some peanut butters. Even quantities that appear to be very small have the potential to quickly become life-threatening to dogs. Be sure to always check the label.
Garbage bins should always be out of your dog’s reach and fitted with tight lids. Thanksgiving is no exception as the majority of dogs get into food by nosing through the trash (although I had an English Springer Spaniel who once got into a defrosting turkey by jumping on top of a freezer). Thanksgiving items such as corn cobs, discarded turkey trussing’s, and bones can result in an obstruction or gastrointestinal injury that have the potential to require surgery. To minimize the risk of my dogs getting into the trash, I keep a smaller garbage bin or bag in the sink and then immediately throw it out with the trash in an area where the dogs can’t access (garage, back of a truck or down a garbage chute).
With lots of guests coming over, it’s easy to get distracted or to have a guest accidentally leave a door open. Many dogs are rather opportunistic, and won’t hesitate to bolt out an open door. If you have a lot of guests coming over, keep your dog crated or in a quiet room with food, toys, and bedding, as people are coming and going. Again, I would tire them out with a walk and/or some play time before the guests arrive. Even with my dog secured in another room or in their crate, I would suggest keeping their collar along with their identification tags on.
Candles can definitely give a home a wonderful holiday glow, but be sure to place them in a secure place so that your dog can’t jump up at them and knock them over. If you have a fireplace, use a protective gate to keep your dog away from the flames.
Gourds, decorative corn, and other trinkets can pose serious choking hazards for dogs. Keep these out of paws’ reach as well.
At The Table
Dogs tend to get underfoot, especially when a big, great smelling meal is being served. Since the dining room will be busy, it may be best to keep your dog crated or in another room while dinner is being served as you wouldn’t want to risk your beloved being accidentally stepped on or injured by a moving chair.
There is lots to consider when organizing a Thanksgiving celebration and your dog’s well-being is of utmost importance during the holiday and always. With a little planning, you can make sure the holiday is celebrated safely with all members of the family! Happy Thanksgiving!