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Pet parents’ guide to celebrating Thanksgiving with your dog

Thanksgiving food safety for dogs

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. 

Table of contents 

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. 

  • Traveling by car – Pets should always be safely restrained in vehicles. This means using a secure harness or a carrier, placed in a location clear of airbags. This helps protect your pet if you brake or swerve suddenly, or get in an accident. Appropriately restraining your dog also prevents them from causing dangerous distractions for you as the driver. You should plan for extra time throughout your road trip so your dog can go to the bathroom and get some fresh air and exercise. 
  • Traveling by air – If you are flying for Thanksgiving and hoping to bring your dog, it is important to first speak with your veterinarian to make sure your dog is physically fit to fly. Air travel can be dangerous for pets, especially brachycephalic breeds. These short-nosed dogs are particularly sensitive to heat, humidity, and breathing difficulties with exercise and stress. In addition to your dog’s health and ability to fly, make sure you are also familiar with airline pet policies and procedures. If possible, have your pup sit in a passenger seat with you to minimize the risk of a medical emergency. 
  • Staying home with a pet sitter — When you can’t bring your pet with you while traveling, hiring a pet sitter to come stay in your home can help minimize stress for both you and your dog. Your dog’s health and happiness are top priority, so finding a capable pet sitter that both you and your pup like and trust is essential. Get personal recommendations and hold a meet-and-greet before your trip to make sure it’s a good fit. 
  • Boarding at a kennel – For social, easy-going dogs, staying at a boarding facility can be a safe and even fun option when pet parents need to travel. When choosing the right kennel, ask the right questions and visit in advance for a quick trial stay. Boarding your dog can ensure they receive professional care and get plenty of exercise with doggie friends. 

Parties, people, and new places 

Thanksgiving often means many houseguests at once and higher-than-usual noise and activity levels. Dogs can become shy, stressed, or overly excited when you’re in a full house, especially if they have never met these people before. Here are some safety tips for holiday socializing with your dog: 

  • Safe space – Putting them in their crate or a quiet room with their favorite puzzle, long lasting bone or treat-dispensing toy like a Kong will help reduce your dog’s stress and prevent any negative—and potentially dangerous—interactions with guests. Be sure to also provide plenty of fresh water and give your dog regular breaks during periods of confinement. 
  • Watch the doors – You should also take care to watch the door when guests are coming and going. Excitable pets, even those who are typically well behaved, may try to make a break for it and become lost or risk injury. For their safety and your peace of mind, your dog should be microchipped and always wear a collar with identification tags. You can also consider setting up gates to restrict door access or keep your dog on a leash. 
  • Normal routine – Keep your dog’s daily routine as consistent as possible. Dogs thrive with predictable schedules and can become stressed with change. Providing meals, potty breaks, and exercise at the same time each day when you are entertaining guests or traveling will help minimize your dog’s stress. 
  • Pack a go-bag – Set you and your dog up for Thanksgiving success by packing their bag with all of the essentials to keep them happy, relaxed, and occupied. Be sure to bring plenty of food, treats, and any medications your dog needs, as well as their bed or a blanket. Bring a leash and harness so you can take him for walks away from the noise and activity. Cuddling up with something that smells like home will help your dog feel less stressed when traveling. You should also pack some of your dog’s favorite toys, especially puzzles, bones, stuffed animals and treat-dispensing toys that keep them occupied. Last but not least, make sure you are well-stocked with ElleVet’s Calm & Comfort chews to provide maximum support when your dog is experiencing acute stress. 

How can ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA help stressed dogs? 

New spaces, smells, and strangers can be overwhelming and stressful. If your dog is uneasy about traveling, staying with a sitter, or visiting friends and family with you for Thanksgiving, ElleVet’s Calm & Comfort situational use chews provide maximum support for their acute stress. Give your dog the appropriate dose of Calm & Comfort 1.5-2 hours before traveling or greeting guests to calm them without sedating them, which can help reduce their stress response over time and allow them to relax over the holiday, too.  

For any questions about ElleVet’s CBD + CBDA products or how CBD can help your furry family member live their best life, give us a call (844-673-7287) or send us an email ([email protected]). We are here to help. 

Take home message for Thanksgiving with your dog

Thanksgiving can and should be an enjoyable time for the whole family, including your dog. With the potential for food-related hazards and travel and social stress, it is important for pet parents to understand these risks and plan ahead in order to ensure their dog has a safe and happy holiday.

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