25 min read

10 Thanksgiving Safety Tips for Dogs Every Pet Parent Should Know

Published: 11/24/2020

The most "woofderful" time of the year is upon us — Thanksgiving! Whether you're traveling long-distance to reunite with family and friends, or you're feasting at home with your four-legged foodie, we've got some top tips for keeping your dog safe this Thanksgiving.

#1. Review your dog's obedience commands

This should be the first item on your Thanksgiving to-do list, especially if Toto is still working their way through the dog training manual. Thanksgiving Day means lots of activity in unfamiliar environments filled with strangers. Make sure your mutt knows how to mind their manners in such situations.

The lead-up to Thanksgiving often means crunch time for pet parents with full-time jobs. Need a helping paw with your pup's obedience training? Book a 60-minute dog training session with a superstar dog trainer near you! Dog trainers on the Wag! platform work around your busy schedule to bring the obedience class right to your living room.

#2. Know which Thanksgiving foods are safe for dogs to eat

Baxter will hardly be able to resist begging at the table during the mouthwatering feast! But many of the delectable Thanksgiving dishes you'll enjoy aren't safe for dogs.

In another post on The Daily Wag!, veterinarian Elizabeth Racine covered Thanksgiving foods for dogs, but we'll provide a quick recap here. Please note this is not a complete list! If you're not sure whether a Thanksgiving dish is safe for your dog, look it up or avoid it altogether.

Dog-safe Thanksgiving foods

Serve these foods without spices, artificial flavors, or added ingredients:

  • Carrots

  • Celery

  • Squash

  • Green beans

  • Apples

  • Fresh cranberries

  • Sweet potatoes

  • Boiled or baked potatoes

  • Pure, cooked pumpkin

  • Low-fat cheese

  • Frozen plain yogurt

  • Plain, unseasoned white turkey meat

Thanksgiving foods and ingredients to avoid

  • Onion

  • Garlic

  • Leeks

  • Sugar

  • Xylitol

  • Raisins

  • Chocolate

  • Desserts

  • Raw potatoes

  • Cranberry sauce

  • Dark turkey meat, fat, skin, and bones

#3. Make a special Thanksgiving treat for your dog

Your fur-baby is part of your family, so they'll likely want to join in the "feastivities" too. But slipping your hungry hound some table scraps on the sly might not be the best option. Why not prepare them a Thanksgiving doggy dish of their own instead?

We've got you covered with 6 easy peasy Thanksgiving recipes for dogs, including everything from crispy green beans to a nutritious Thanksgiving loaf. Does your doggo have food allergies or a sensitive stomach? These treats for dogs with food allergies are sure to get Dizzy drooling!

#4. Learn the signs of toxicity in dogs

In many ways, dogs are like toddlers. Turn your back for one second and they'll start meddling in things they shouldn't.

Know the signs of toxicity and stomach upset in case your wily woofer gives you the slip and snags a Thanksgiving treat from the table. Keep in mind that some symptoms may not show for a few days, which is why it's important to monitor your mutt at all times.

Here are some "tell-tail" signs your pup has ingested something toxic. Again, this isn't a complete list. Contact a veterinarian if you notice any unordinary behaviors or symptoms.

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Lethargy

  • Excessive panting

  • Tremors

  • Restlessness

  • Rapid heartbeat

  • Loss of coordination

  • Loss of appetite

  • Swollen limbs

  • Intestinal blockages

#5. Set boundaries with family members

Well-meaning family members might be tempted to give your dog a treat without knowing their dietary requirements or your rules. Avoid this by setting boundaries with your family before the big day.

This isn't just limited to food and treats. If your dog doesn't like being petted in a certain area, or if they have a medical condition, let your family members know.

#6. Pack a doggy bag for stress-free travel

Your four-legged friend might need a bigger suitcase than you do! Here are a few essentials to pack if you're traveling with a dog this Thanksgiving:

  • Leash, harness, and collar

  • License and proof of vaccinations

  • Dog tag with updated contact info

  • Generous supply of doggy waste bags

  • Food and water bowls

  • Food and treats

  • Favorite toys

  • Medication

  • Plush bedding

  • Crate

  • Towel

  • Car safety system for dogs if you're driving (see our next Thanksgiving safety tip!)

#7. Buckle up your pup if you're driving long-distance

Did you know that more than 80% of pet parents don't use a doggy car seat or safety system? Car seats for dogs might sound a little silly, but they can save lives — both yours and your woofer's — in case of an accident. (And in 6 states, they're actually required by law.)

When shopping around, look for a system that's made for your dog's size and weight and crash-tested by the Center for Pet Safety. Our guide on how to know which car safety system is right for your dog covers everything you need to know about keeping Rufus safe on the road.

#8. Research the pet policies of the airline you're flying with

If you're planning to fly with a dog this Thanksgiving, make sure you've read the airline's pet policy carefully. Many airlines impose strict breed and kennel restrictions. If you have any questions, contact the airline before your flight.

Check out our guides to flying with a dog on some of America's most popular airlines:

#9. Stick to your dog's regular schedule

Throughout your Thanksgiving break, try to stick to your doggo's usual times for meals, walks, playtime, and potty breaks. Canines are creatures of habit, and they're happiest on a regular routine.

Feeling too full after the Thanksgiving feast to go for walkies? Why not book a dog walker near you and let a pet caregiver keep Callie company? While you're snoozing after the feast, your pet caregiver will take Sparky for a spin around the block. They'll even send you photo updates and a report card!

#10. Supervise your dog around children and other pets

High-energy dogs and children alike can sometimes play too "ruff" together. To keep both human and canine children safe, supervise your dog at all times around young children. Big dogs might knock over small children while playing. Likewise, curious little ones might also distress your dog by pulling their fur or pinching their ears.

The same goes for other pets. Before you arrive, discuss your pets' temperament with friends and family members who also plan on bringing a pet. Agree on a plan of action in case your fur-babies don't get along.

Thanksgiving safety tips for dogs: final thoughts

Busy environments with lots of people can stress out even the friendliest, calmest dogs. Watch your woofer for signs of distress and react quickly to keep them cool and collected. For example, you might want to set up their crate or bed in a safe place where they can retreat if things get a little too rowdy.

Ultimately, the best way to keep your dog safe over Thanksgiving is to prepare well. Make a plan for keeping your dog relaxed in unfamiliar environments, interacting with other pets and children, and traveling long-distance via plane or car. As long as you can handle that, you and your woofer are sure to have a "furrific" time with your friends and family!

Happy Turkey Day from the Wag! family to yours!