The holidays are a great time for food, sweets, and family time together, but they might also be a hazard for your pet dog. Some foods might be harmful to your dog, especially foods that are popular during these final months of the year. Some dogs may also struggle with the upheaval, constant visitors, and exposure to other animals that can occur during the holidays. Here is a simple guide to help you keep your dog safe this season.
1. Stick with dog food only.
You might feel sorry for your pet on Thanksgiving with the smell of turkey flooding through the house. However, it's best to maintain the same diet you have always fed your dog, without a lot of rich holiday people food on their plate. You might give a small piece of turkey as a treat instead of the usual dog biscuit, but that's where the feast should end. Not only will all the rich food upset your dog's stomach, but visiting guests who do not know about foods that can be poisonous to dogs might feed them something that will cause more problems than a sick stomach.
For example, onions and garlic (whether cooked or uncooked) are poisonous for dogs. Stuffing, green bean casserole, and other common Thanksgiving foods are often full of these aromatics. Nuts are also often a hazard dogs, especially almonds, pecans, walnuts, and pistachios — which are all common in festive holiday dishes.
If your dog can't bear the sight of people eating or is especially good at begging or stealing from plates, kennel the dog during dinner time and bring out the leftover turkey for a treat later after the meal is over.
2. Pack away the treats.
Dogs can get into digestive trouble simply because the holidays are filled with food that often gets left around. Pack away items like candy from trick or treating. Chocolate is poisonous for dogs, and even a little bit can lead to major health problems.
3. Know your dog's limits.
Some dogs are perfectly happy in their regular routine, but they can get stressed when things change. For example, if your dog is not used to being around small children and you suddenly have all of your grandchildren over for Christmas dinner, don't force your dog to interact with all the new people. Notice signs of stress, like hiding, refusing food, or excessive shedding. Dogs who are anxious or afraid may lash out, even if they have never shown any signs of violence before. Noticing stress signals beforehand will help you to know that your pet needs some time safe in the crate, away from prying children or well-meaning older strangers.
Contact a vet at your local animal hospital for additional advice.