(DISCLAIMER: We are dog trainers and pet sitters. Any tips or information in these blogs are things we have found helpful in our years of experience. We are not veterinarians and any questions about health or nutrition should be directed to your veterinarian.)
As we gather around the table for Thanksgiving dinner, we call to mind things in our lives that we are thankful for and often, our dogs are at the top of the list. They greet us with wagging tails, cuddle with us when we are sick or sad, and provide hours of entertainment with their antics. While we include our pets in our celebration, here are a few tips to keep them healthy and happy during the holiday season.
1.) Do not feed your dog table scraps. In my years of working as a veterinary assistant, I have seen many dogs get sick from ingesting table food. Items that contain onions, garlic, grapes or chocolate can be toxic to your dog and turkey bones can splinter, damaging the stomach and intestines. Instead, spoil them with a new toy or special dog treat that they can enjoy during dinner. If you have guests that will feed the dog from the table, consider putting your dog in his crate or in another room during the meal. Besides making your dog sick, feeding your dog from the table can encourage begging.
2.) If your dog accidentally gets into something he should not have and becomes ill, seek veterinary help immediately. Waiting until your regular vet is open on Monday can have serious consequences for your dog. Familiarize yourself with local emergency clinics in the event that something should happen.
3.) Large groups of people coming into your home can be stressful for your dog. Even the biggest social butterfly can become overwhelmed. Have a quiet area for your dog to go when they want to take a break from company. A crate or a dog bed in a quiet room are good alternatives.
4.) Do not force your dog to socialize if he does not want to. It is always a good idea to let your dog make the first move when meeting a new person. Dogs that are nervous can feel threatened if someone they do not know reaches in for a pet. You can arm your guests with treats that they can drop for your dog to help him feel more comfortable.