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Thanksgiving: A Potential Danger for Dogs

Breaking down some of the common holiday hazards for your pets.

Thanksgiving is the start of the family gatherings, office parties, Christmas parties and all leading up to Christmas and New Year’s!  With so much preparation and running around to be done, it is easy to accidentally put your dog in danger. 

Food is the most recognizable danger. 

Is giving a piece of turkey to a dog a bad thing? Well, not really.

But, letting the dog eat the turkey leg or other bones could be potentially fatal. Turkey bones are easily broken and can splinter and lodge into all sorts of internal parts in a dog causing anything from blockages to tearing of the intestinal tract. 

Food left on the counter is nearly irresistible to dogs, and why not, it is the same for us humans! 

However, some of the ingredients we use in our holiday feast are real hazards to dogs.  Grape and raisins used as garnish or put atop a salad can actually cause kidney failure and the pits of other fruits can become choking hazards or become lodged in the intestinal tract.  

Some of the raw ingredients we use to make our fall feast are equally as dangerous.  Salt, which is probably the most common ingredient around the kitchen, can cause a dog to become dehydrated.  Salt in raw form or on tasty treats like nuts, pretzels, etc. can wreak havoc on a dog if the dog has an opportunity to indulge in a large quantity. 

There is no holiday feast that would be complete without fresh baked bread! In making the fresh bread we have to use raw dough, and it is the raw dough that is the danger. The yeast in raw dough when ingested by a dog interacts with the digestive juices and will actually expand like it would in the oven.  Clearly this can cause great distress to a dog and become a serious medical issue.

There are quite a few non-food related dangers that come into play around the holidays and making a large family dinner.  The most obvious is the trash.  If suddenly there are irresistible smells coming from the circular can of doggie delight, they will wait for their opportunity and dive right in.  Things like plastic wrap, skewers, tin foil and other packaging can quickly be ingested and shouldn’t be.

Some of the holiday ambiance can become dangerous to our pets as well. 

First are candles. I cannot tell you how many cats I have seen that have been burned because they walked by a candle and their fur caught fire. Additionally, a happy dog’s tail can send a lit candle flying and become a danger to the whole house. 

Along with candles, is the seasonal potpourri. Potpourri can contain any number of toxic plants, seeds, and flowers that if ingested can make a dog very sick. 

As an animal trainer, one of my biggest concerns is when new or strange people come into a dog’s home and the owners assume that the dog is going to be okay with it.  This is often not the case.  If you think Uncle Ed is odd, think what a dog may think of him! 

Dogs can become territorial or fearful and have hands reaching down to pet them, when they are not comfortable with this. 

Two things may happen—first the dog may aggress, and second the dog may take the opportunity to run out of the situation. 

With so many people coming through the door, the dog will have plenty of opportunity to get loose.  It is generally best to confine a dog to a room away from the gathering and avoid all the potential holiday hazards. 

Our pets are like family, and the holidays certainly make us want to spoil our faithful tail-wagging family members, but we want to make sure we do it safely! 

Happy thanksgiving from Ferris and me to you and your family!

leila March 23, 2013 at 09:25 PM
THANK YOU SOO MUCH FOR ALL YOUR WARNING. I WANTED TO ADD THAT I HAVE THREE SMALL DOGS AND I STARTED FEEDING THEM BEEF JERKEY STICKS AND SOON AFTER ALL THREE HAD HUGE STOMACH HERNIAS AND NEEDED SURGERY..WAS IT FROM THE JERKY STICKS, I DON'T KNOW...JUST THOUGHT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW.

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