The Do’s and Don’ts of Thanksgiving Dinner: Keep Your Dog Away from These Nine Foods
Did you know that Thanksgiving, and the following day, are some of the busiest days at the veterinarian all year? It’s hard to imagine that we’re responsible for the lion’s share of these visits, simply by accidently feeding our dogs a dangerous treat.
It’s important to us here at Zoo Snoods to spread the right message this Thanksgiving, and we believe that there’s no message more important than one that will keep your dog happy and healthy. There are plenty of safe food options to make your dog’s holiday special. A little bit of consideration now could save a lot of heartache later.
While everything should be fed in moderation to your dog, there are some items that should be avoided at all costs. We’re not being finnicky here, these items can make your dog incredibly sick and some may even be fatal. Here are nine Thanksgiving specific foods that should never be fed to your dog:
#1: Turkey Bones
The image of a dog happily gnawing a bone that was instilled into American culture by cartoons and movies has done incredible harm to our pets over the years. Any bone can shard and lodge itself in their windpipe, stomach, or intestines, but cooked bones are even more susceptible to splintering.
Feeding your dog cooked bones is just asking for trouble. The surgery to remove a shard is horribly expensive, but you would be lucky if it was an option. A bone lodged in the wrong spot, or that has already caused significant damage, can be deadly.
Instead, try stuffing turkey breast into a safe, degradable bone soaked in unsalted broth. This should keep them busy through the whole dinner!
#2: Fatty or Salty Skins, Gravies, or Seasonings
Try to keep it as plain as possible when choosing your dog's Thanksgiving meal. Dogs can process fat in moderation, but you would be surprised how quickly fatty foods can lead to pancreatitis or gall bladder issues. Fatty food also just tends to make them feel very icky, and nobody wants that for their pet on Thanksgiving.
Salt is an even bigger hazard when it comes to sharing food with your dog this Thanksgiving. Humans tend to go heavy on the seasonings during the holidays, and unfortunately, dogs just can’t handle it. At the least, they’ll experience diarrhea and vomiting, but if they ingest too much salt, they may even wind up with muscle tremors and seizures.
If you’d like your dog to experience mash and gravy, consider making them a small serving without the turkey fat, butter and seasonings you’ve likely added for your human guests. Skip potatoes completely if your dog has diabetes; the carbs will spike their sugar levels.
#3: Onions, Scallions, or Garlic
The stinky trio are always hazardous for dogs, but it can be difficult to remember which dishes they are in when the table is covered with Thanksgiving plates. All three are members of the allium family, and any plant from this family is not just bad for dogs, it’s toxic.
A small amount of onion or garlic can cause vomiting, intestinal discomfort and diarrhea. If your dog accidentally ingests large quantities of either, you may be dealing with organ failure. If you can, keep dishes that have been seasoned with onions or garlic far away from the reach of your dog this Thanksgiving.
If you’d like to offer your canine companion a loaded casserole for their meal this Thanksgiving, consider making a small version with unseasoned peas, carrots, chicken, and green beans.
#4: Raisins or Grapes
You may have already heard this one, but raisins have a tendency to sneak their way into many Thanksgiving dishes, and it's good to have a reminder. Always ask about raisins before offering your dog anything cooked by another family member. The toxins in grapes will go straight for your dog’s kidneys.
Unfortunately, even one raisin or grape could be a fatal to a canine, especially if they are small. If your dog accidentally ingests grapes or raisins, call an emergency vet immediately. They’ll need to be monitored closely for 6-12 hours in case of kidney failure.
Cranberries are a great substitution for grapes. Just mind the quantity. Dried cranberries can be deceptively high in sugar and calories.
#5: Sweets, Especially Chocolates
Sweets are best avoided, even for healthy dogs. While dogs do need some sugar, or carbohydrates, in their diets, human sweets are far too condensed for them to digest well. You will certainly end up with a sick dog if you feed it human sweets this Thanksgiving.
The most important sweet to avoid is Chocolate, or anything containing theobromine. Theobromine acts as a diuretic in dogs, causing them become dehydrated quickly. Fortunately, consuming chocolate is rarely fatal for dogs. The more condensed the chocolate is (baker’s chocolate, etc.) the more concerned you should be. It is always best to call your vet; they may want to put them on an IV until the danger passes.
There are plenty of healthy fruits that your dog can enjoy in moderation. Our dogs here in the Zoo Snoods headquarters love to stop in the break room for some cut apples and bananas. These fruits aren’t just a treat, they’re actually a nice source of fiber and vitamins.
It may seem like common sense that alcohol would be toxic to dogs. It’s toxic to humans after all. However, it’s worse than that for our canine friends. Their bodies cannot process alcohol at all, and it is far more toxic to them than a small amount would be to us. Keep your dogs away from spilled wine or food made from alcohol this Thanksgiving.
If ingested, alcohol can cause tremors, seizures, and comas in dogs. Too much alcohol can be a deadly mistake for any sized dog.
Treat your dogs to coconut water, unsalted broth, or vegetable juice this Thanksgiving. They’ll toast to the added vitamins from their holiday treat.
We’re all drowsy after wolfing down a pound of turkey, but you’ll have to just let your dog remain that way. Caffeine has an identical effect on dogs as chocolate. It acts as a diuretic and can cause your dog to become extremely dehydrated.
While it might be obvious to refrain from offering Fido a lap of hot coffee, coffee (and the more dangerous coffee bean) can be present in a multitude of dishes. Chocolate covered coffee beans are an infamous double whammy, and should be kept well away from dogs. An accidental spill in this department could lead your dog to an IV hook-up.
There are no caffeine substitutions for dogs, but don’t let that stop you from treating them to a warm beverage. Warm unsalted broth is your dog’s idea of a perfect cup of joe.
#8: Yeasted Dough
There are often dough scraps left over when you’re baking up a storm for your Thanksgiving dinner. It may seem like a waste to toss them in the trash, but it would be worse to drop them in your dog’s bowl. If your dog ingests yeasted dough, the yeast will actually continue to process while in your dog’s tummy.
Yeasted dough can cause dangerous levels of ethanol to be released into your dog’s blood stream. This may only cause them to become bloated and gassy, but in bad cases it will cause toxicosis.
Try picking up a healthy dog food log if you’d like your dog to snack with you while cooking. Many of these can be cut up into treat size portions instead of their standard meal size. Cutting them up just stretches out the fun!
#9: Corn on the Cob (and Other Choking or Blocking Hazards)
I’m sure you’ve noticed that dogs don’t bother chewing anything very well. Maybe they can’t, or maybe they don’t want to. In any case, choking is a serious concern during Thanksgiving, and any food that can’t be easily swallowed should be avoided.
Corn on the Cob is a particularly bad offender when it comes to vet visits during the holidays. Dogs will often get frustrated or over-excited while chewing the cob and end up swallowing the whole thing. The cob will lodge itself in your dog’s wind-pipe if not chewed well. If they did chew it well enough to pass through their wind pipe, they could still end up with blockages in their intestines.
Pick up some safe bones from the pet store if your dog would enjoy something to chew on this Thanksgiving. Many even have nutritional value for your dog, while corn does not.
Speak Up Around Your Friends and Family
Family is particularly hard to deal with around the holidays, but they won’t be the ones paying your vet bills. You’ll have to prep uninformed family members about your dog’s dietary restrictions. We’re happy to do the heavy lifting for you, just forward them this article before they arrive! Their intentions are in the right place, and we love that about them.
If you’re pretty positive they wouldn’t bother reading anything you send, make sure to sit down with them as they filter in. The conversation goes easier if you have items readily available that your dog can eat. Everyone loves including pets in the festivities, but it’s important they do it in a safe way. Kids will especially appreciate having something that they are allowed to feed your dog, and it may keep them from sneaking them something that they are not allowed to feed them.
Be Careful with Your Trash
One sure-fire way to take a trip to the vet this holiday season if for your dog to ingest all of these at once. We can be incredibly careful about what we intend to feed our dogs, and then overlook what they choose to feed themselves. Make sure to keep an eye on your trash.
Thanksgiving tends to be a time for multiple trash bags, and multiple trash bags don’t always fit in safe containers. Someone you trust should stay in charge of carting trash outside regularly. Visiting family members may do some cleaning up without understanding the consequences of leaving a bag on the ground.
Don’t Forget the Snoods
Not only will your guests crack up when they see your dog in their favorite Zoo Snood, you’ll have half the mess to clean up when they’re done with their Thanksgiving Dinner. Zoo Snoods keep your dog's ears well away from their special dish, allowing them to enjoy it without wearing it. It’s not just a matter of convenience either, keeping your dog’s ears clean (especially those with long hair) will cut down on ear infections and complications.
Additionally, holidays can be a stressful time for pets. Many dogs find Zoo Snoods to have a calming effect when they are overwhelmed. Dogs have sensitive ears, and are unused to big changes in their house. Give your dog a gentle helping hand with an adorable snood of their very own.
Let’s All Have Fun This Thanksgiving
Dogs are part of the family, but their diet has some special considerations. Unfortunately for all of us, they don’t know, don’t care, or can’t tell us. That means it's up to us and our families to keep these foods away from them this Thanksgiving. Talk to your uncles, aunts, parents, and children about what is NOT ok to give your dog.
Thanksgiving can be an overwhelming amount of work, but if you have time to pick up or make something special and healthy for your dog, your family will feel a lot better about not sharing potentially dangerous scraps. It can be a difficult concept to get through to some family members, but maybe you could bring it up when they complement your dog’s fabulous Thanksgiving Zoo Snood!