Thanksgiving is a holiday focused on gathering together with family, enjoying delectable food, and reflecting on all we are thankful for. So it’s only natural to want one of your favorite family members to be able to join in on the fun — your dog!

Unfortunately, it’s also a day that can easily overwhelm our canine companions, or leave them feeling sick after sneaking some table scraps during the big meal. So, how can you make your dog’s Thanksgiving a success?

Some families may feel they have to keep their dogs away from the festivities, but this can leave your pet feeling stressed and isolated. Below, we’re going to cover some fun and safe ways to involve your dog in Thanksgiving so that they can enjoy the holiday too!

Set Them Up for Success

Thanksgiving can be an overwhelming day for many household pets. There are lots of visitors in the house, hustle and bustle they aren’t allowed to be a part of, and tons of enticing food they aren’t allowed to eat. However, if you plan ahead, there are things you can do to allow them to enjoy the day without being underfoot or getting in trouble.

If you are doing a lot of cooking and meal preparation, it might be helpful to set up a barrier to keep them out of the kitchen. Consider giving them something new and stimulating. A new dog toy or treat offered during the cooking — and again during the main meal — can help shift their focus away from what they can’t have and onto what they can! 

Lastly, don’t forget to introduce guests to your dog on Thanksgiving — and vice versa. Not everyone is comfortable around dogs. Letting guests know what to expect from your furry companion can help put both your guests and your dog more at ease. 

Share Only Safe Treats

Perhaps the most tempting part of your dog’s Thanksgiving is the same as it is for you — the food! But is Thanksgiving food safe for dogs?

Sadly, those rich, delicious holiday dishes are even harder on Fido’s digestive system than they are on yours. It may seem impossible to prevent any secret scraps from being passed under the Thanksgiving table. If you let your guests know ahead of time not to feed the pooch, you can avoid potential stomach issues for your dog — or even an emergency vet visit. 

Thanksgiving Food Don’ts: 

  • Turkey skin
  • Turkey bones
  • Turkey stuffing
  • Turkey gravy
  • Chocolate
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes with added ingredients
  • Pumpkin pie
  • Alcohol
  • Grapes/Raisins
  • Onions
  • Scallions

Your safest bet is to stick to your dog’s normal food. A few of their favorite healthy dog treats can help distract them from the holiday food they can’t have.

For dogs with pre-existing medical conditions or special nutrition requirements, even safer Thanksgiving foods can cause an issue. Always consult with your veterinarian when in doubt.

Get Outside!

One of the healthiest ways to spend your Thanksgiving holiday is by enjoying some outdoor exercise! Taking your dog for a long walk, run, or hike before the big meal can help burn off some energy that may otherwise come out later in the day. 

You may also opt for a post-meal walk, which can help both you and your pet digest a heavy meal, and offer relaxation after a busy holiday.

Connect with Loved Ones Near and Far

Lastly, make time to connect with both family and friends on Thanksgiving. And let your dog join in on the memories! Curling up on the couch to watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade or a football game is a great way to bond with family — including your beloved canine.

If your loved ones are far away, set aside a time to connect on a video chat — and have your pets participate. After all, dogs are social animals and want to be a part of the festivities just like their human companions. Make your dog’s Thanksgiving one to remember this year — and you will too!

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