Thanksgiving Fun and Safety With Our Furry Friends


The holidays can be wonderful but also can be potentially stressful. Sometimes dealing with family drama makes you especially grateful for those less-complicated furry friends who nose you under the table. At least with them, you know a belly rub and a treat will be all it takes to make them happy!

Their mere presence can help lower blood pressure levels and give you a graceful option for directing your undivided attention during awkward moments with probing questions from family members! While pets add fun and a built-in reprieve to the mix of family gatherings, there are things to keep in mind for the holidays.

Some Thanksgiving foods are great for pets!

I know -- you thought you were getting the obligatory warnings about overindulging your furry friends and poisonous substances for them to avoid. We'll get there, but let's look at the great things you can share!

Turkey is a wholesome food that, in small quantities, can supplement your pup's diet. Just make sure you avoid the fatty and spicy parts such as the skin and gravy, which can cause gastric distress.

I've never loved putting the organ meats in my stuffing, but I don't mind sharing these meats with my pets! These are nutrient-dense foods your pets will enjoy. Previously, I've always cooked them (without salt), but there are some proponents of raw diets for pets that suggest they are beneficial to their health.

I'm starting to become a bit more open-minded about raw foods and pets. Dogs' acidic and short digestive tract are suited to dealing with bacteria, and previously frozen meats have a reduced bacterial load. This is something you may want to discuss with your vet and peruse the large body of information about raw pet diets on the Internet to make an informed decision.

No Bones About It!

Avoid giving pets bones as cooked poultry bones can splinter and cause internal bleeding requiring a visit to the vet. Raw diet proponents encourage giving uncooked bones to pets, but Thanksgiving may not be the day to introduce your pets to the idea. Any dietary change, even with healthy foods, can lead to gastric distress. Any new foods given should be kept to a minimum.

Be sure to ensure that the turkey carcass is not accessible to pets either on the table, counter, or in the trash. Following the holiday, be sure that the trash is secure to keep pets from ingesting rancid food that is full of bacteria as well.

Some leftover Thanksgiving foods can be used to make a healthy meal for dogs as well. Things such as a bit of the unseasoned cooked sweet potatoes, green beans, and even plain brown rice make nice mix-ins.

These complex carbohydrates are often featured in modern commercial dog foods along with turkey, so feel free to set aside some of your non-seasoned, low-fat ingredients to enjoy a bit of your Thanksgiving meal with your pet.

Do keep portions small, however, so as not to shock their digestive systems.

Thanksgiving Foods that Fido Should Avoid

No matter how much your dog begs for the savory goodness of the stuffing, make sure you avoid giving any to your pets. Onions are toxic to dogs and cats, and the spices are also disruptive to their digestive systems.

Chocolate, grapes, raisins, and avocado are also party-ruining no-no's. Raw bread dough should also be avoided as the dough will expand in the intestines causing great distress.

Tips for Keeping Pets Happy During Gatherings

Sometimes it can be overwhelming for pets when there are a large number of people around or extra animals. If you can fit in a good long walk before guests arrive, this can encourage more mellow behavior for excitable dogs.

Plan ahead to have a quiet room with chew toys and even soft music if your pet seems to be overstimulated. Tucking pets away safely can prevent them from being harassed from overly enthusiastic children who may not be accustomed to animals.

An added bonus? Having to excuse your pet to the quiet room can also give you a break too! Having a quiet space can keep potential conflicts with other guests' pets to a minimum as well. Plus, having your pets in a safe room ensures there won't be an accidental escape.  

My, doesn't that smell good! (Photo by eraphernalia vintage)

If your pet is highly motivated by food, you might have to instruct guests not to share treats with your pup or even a persistent kitty. Either remove your begging pet or provide them with an alternative such as a Kong with liver paste or peanut butter (if there are no nut allergies in your family) to keep them occupied and out from underfoot.

This may also be when you decide to share your pets' specially-prepared Thanksgiving foods with them though your guests may appreciate the animals eating elsewhere. It might be fun to put bits of their Thanksgiving meal in any of our hollow chew toys to really let pets feel like a part of the celebration.

This would be a great treat for our pets. After all, they've been completely teased smelling those great scents coming out of the kitchen all day! And they deserve an award for helping you avoid Aunt Bertha's probing questions!

National Dog Show

Another great Thanksgiving tradition many pet lovers enjoy is the National Dog Show which is sponsored by Purina. This is the 14th year of the event and is being hosted by NBC. 

The show will be broadcast at 12:00 p.m. in all time zones. For more information, visit Bleacher Buzz.

Have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving with friends, family, and your pets!

"Pugrim" photo submitted to by Peggi Lorenz.

Do you have any tips for navigating the Holidays with your pets?

This entry was posted by Mary Parker.
Linda Wenger on November 20 at 7:53 AM said:

Here's a tip learned the hard way: Keep all chairs pushed tightly into the table once everyone leaves the room. The first holiday after we rescued our athletic little Schnoodle, I found her up on the dining room table helping herself to leftover cinnamon rolls. Fortunately there weren't any harmful ingredients in them but she got read the riot act, and we didn't get to eat any of the leftovers ourselves! Also, keep food, such as mashed potatoes, pushed well back on the kitchen counter if you have a large dog like our Airedale who likes to help himself when begging doesn't work. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
Mary on November 20 at 10:03 AM said:

Those are great tips, Linda. Always great to hear from you!
Teagan on November 20 at 3:11 PM said:

That kong tip could be really useful....
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