Turkey Day is Not For the Dogs

Good Dogma

By Lisa Ellman

It’s happening again — as it does every year — Thanksgiving. And like every year, your dog or cat will be boarded or sat at home while you’re gone. 

Unless you’re hosting this year, in which case, there are several things that you’ll need to be aware of to keep your animals safe. 

Probably the most important thing to be aware of is the food. Believe it or not, dogs have very delicate digestive systems. 

I know, I know, they eat grass and cat poop; but their tolerance for fatty, sugary foods is minimal and can cause acute (and sometimes chronic, depending on how often they eat it), gastro-intestinal issues. 

This something that you DO NOT want to have to deal with when you have a houseful of relatives and friends over. Inform your guests personally that the pet is not to have any food other than it’s current diet. 

Hand them a couple of dog treats as you greet them. So, if dear Aunt Bertha wants to give your dog some of her stuffing, kindly deny her the gesture and hand her a dog treat to give instead. 

Keep the human food at a minimum, and if you or anyone else must give the dog something, be sure it’s placed in their feeding bowl and that it’s something the dog’s GI system will tolerate, such as turkey meat (no bone or gravy), plain vegetables, or a piece of yam (no butter or marshmallow).

Another concern for your dog or cat is toothpicks. If you’re planning on serving appetizers or finger foods, be aware that sometimes people don’t pay attention to what happens to their toothpicks, but your dog will. 

It still smells like food but a toothpick is just a sharp, tiny, pointy stick and it has the potential to do damage to a dog’s gums and throat if swallowed. 

Pay attention to people constantly coming and going through the door, which means the door will be open a lot. 

Be sure that your dog or cat is in a safe, secured room when people are arriving and or leaving so there is no chance of the animal dashing out, tripping someone or knocking anyone over.

Always make sure that your dog, or cat, is never left unsupervised when there are young children present. You may also have guests that are uncomfortable or afraid of being near a dog or cat. 

For everyone’s comfort and safety, it might be best to put your animal in a room with its bed, some toys and perhaps a radio or TV program turned on.

What if your sister wants to bring her dog to your home with her?

My best advice, if the dogs haven’t already been introduced, would be to gently say “No.” Unless she’s coming several days before the event and you both have some time to get them introduced. 

But what if they don’t get along? If your sister’s dog has been a frequent visitor to your home, and is familiar with your dog, or cat, then I would suggest appointing or delegating an overseer for the dogs, to make sure they stay out of trouble and are safe, while you are running around focusing on your guests and preparing the meal.

Have a safe, sane, and happy Thanksgiving.

Lisa Ellman has been working with a wide range of animals for over 20 years. Her passion, however, is dogs, and in 1996 she founded Good Dogma Obedience Training. With a foundation built on positive reinforcement, Good Dogma provides basic obedience training and behavior modification for the family dog and human members of the pack. Lisa’s comprehensive theory on training is a simple one: “Train the human, condition the dog.” Good Dogma is a monthly feature of Simply Clear Marketing & Media.

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