Things to Consider
- Turkey. Cooked turkey in small quantities, with all bones removed, usually is fine for a dog to eat. Raw or undercooked turkey shouldn’t be fed to dogs, because it can contain infectious bacteria. Cooked turkey bones are also dangerous, because they are sharp, brittle and can splinter. Cooked bones can lodge in and perforate a dog's intestines or cause a serious choking hazard requiring an emergency trip to the veterinarian. Poultry fat can cause life-threatening pancreatitis.
- Greasy Fatty Foods. Dogs shouldn’t eat a lot of salty, greasy, high-fat foods, such as ham, gravy and turkey skin. These can cause gastrointestinal inflammation and increase the risk of pancreatitis, which is a potentially fatal disease. Remind guests and children not to offer table scraps to the family dog. - Onions and Garlic. Onions and garlic are toxic to dogs. They can cause a dangerous form of anemia that might not be detected for days. Turkey stuffing often contains onions and garlic and should not be fed to dogs.
- Alcohol. Many dogs, like their owners, enjoy alcoholic drinks. Alcohol intoxication can be extremely dangerous to dogs, leading to coma and possibly death.
- Bread Dough. Raw bread dough expands in a dog’s stomach because of heat. This can cause bloating, vomiting and abdominal pain, which may become life-threatening.
- Spices and Herbs. Sage and other herbs contain oils that can cause tummy upset and central nervous system depression if a dog eats them in large quantities. Most dogs won’t eat enough spices or herbs to become sick, but it’s best to keep them out of reach, just in case.
- Sweets. Cake batter, especially if it includes raw eggs, should be kept out of a dog’s reach to prevent salmonella infection. Dogs should never have access to chocolate. Pumpkin pie is especially enticing to dogs; they can have a taste, but should not have a lot of this delicacy.
- Garbage. Rancid food is full of potentially infections bacteria that can make a dog very sick.
- Overindulgence. While it’s okay to give a dog a few table scraps from the holiday dinner, don’t go overboard. Stuffing, ham, gravy, pies, mashed potatoes and other fatty foods can make a dog sick and predispose it to pancreatitis.
- Behavioral Issues. If a dog is skittish around people, noises or sudden movements, it should be provided a safe, separate place to be in during the holiday commotion. Doors should be kept closed to prevent an unexpected escape. Dogs may enjoy a special treat, such as a bone or stuffed Kong toy, to occupy them during the festivities.
- Exercise. It’s a great idea to take dogs on a long walk before the Thanksgiving dinner. This helps reduce pent-up energy and makes the dog much more likely to be calm during the family feast.
Some people are afraid of dogs, and some dogs are afraid of strange people. Be conscious of this. Holiday guests often accidentally leave doors open, letting dogs escape. Everyone should be reminded to be gentle with dogs and keep doors shut.