Dog Safety During Thanksgiving: Let’s Talk Turkey!

TurkeyThanksgiving is a time for family and friends. People gather to eat and drink. They eat and drink some more. They watch football and eat and drink some more. Our pets are at risk during this time because their normal routine is disrupted. They are surrounded by their family, but also by other people. There is an abundance of food and drink. When I prepare a Thanksgiving meal there is a great deal of food platters, food waste, and cooling platters of prepared food. This creates a tempting target for the enterprising dog to go after.

Dog safety is paramount at this time of year. They can get into scraps that are not healthy for them such as uncooked turkey or poultry bones. They can get into the food wrappers and eat them. They can get into desserts made with artificial sweeteners that contain Xylitol which is dangerous and potentially deadly for their dogs as I recently experienced.

Give your dog something else to focus on instead of your Thanksgiving dinner.

JW Pet Chompion Heavyweight Dog Toy

JW Pet ChompionThis is a barbell shaped toy for dogs who are heavy chewers. Give this to your dog instead of a turkey leg. You can smear some cooked turkey and potatoes on it for added fun, or stuff them inside the toy, but this will keep your dog chewing for hours and none the wiser for not getting that turkey! This toy is made of heavy rubber and is certified to be non-toxic.

You can obtain a JW Pet Chompion Heavyweight Dog Toy at Entirely Pets.

Fire and Candles

There is nothing that brings a feeling of warmth to the Thanksgiving holiday like a brisk fire or some elegant candles forming Dog and Firethe centerpiece of your dining room table. Especially when it is starting to get cold outside. One of my dogs is not bothered by a roaring fire in the fireplace, but the other one starts shaking as soon as he sees the wood next to the hearth! He is absolutely petrified of fire as were his early ancestors. Take care when building a fire that it is not so big that embers and logs fly out into the room. As for candles, ensure that your dogs don’t jump up on the table or drag a table cloth and dislodge a lit candle. Taking care with fire around your dogs will keep everyone happy.

Feast or Famine! Don’t Let Your Pup Overindulge

Yes, I prepare a plate of people food for each of my dogs because they are a part of my family and it is Thanksgiving for them as well. They have steadfastly observed me throughout the day of cooking (I start at 6 in the morning making at least four pies (2 pecan, 1 pumpkin, and 1 apple). My two dogs help by ensuring that I will drop something that they enjoy and then cleaning it up! I am fortunate in that my dogs are small. I know people with larger dogs who can get anything off of the kitchen counter. I would have to ban my guys from the kitchen! Because of this, I choose my ingredients carefully and make sure that I don’t give them something that they cannot handle. The last thing you need is to take the dog to the emergency veterinarian while your turkey is in the oven! This is no good. They should not eat raw meat (yes, their ancestors did, but then so did ours, and I only enjoy nostalgia to a point). Some dogs can handle vegetables better than others, but a plate of cooked meat and potatoes should be sufficient to let them join in the festivities.

What about dessert? I would be careful with any dessert. The artificial sweetener Xylitol is in many ingredients and is very dangerous for dogs. Chocolate is also known to harm dogs. Let them have some fresh fruit. They really won’t know the difference. My dogs will eat anything that looks like “people food”.

Ready for Football?

Chuckit! Indoor FumblerFootball is as much a part of Thanksgiving as the turkey and fixings. While it is halftime, why not take Fido out for a walk so that during this constitutional, you can make room for some more pie (that’s why I make four) while your dog burns off some energy.

So what happens when you didn’t burn off enough of your dog’s energy and the second half is too exciting?

Try the Chuckit! Indoor Fumbler available at Entirely Pets. This is a lightweight, football-shaped dog toy made of chenille fabric that is perfect for indoor play while you and all your human and canine friends enjoy the big game. Pass it back and forth while your dog tries for the interception! He runs and runs! And he SCORES!!!

At the End of the Day

Be sure to clean up all of your leftovers and scraps ensuring that everything is stored or disposed of properly. Your dog is just as susceptible to food poisoning from improperly stored leftovers as you are. The scraps and other debris should be thrown out, and don’t forget to take the trash out of the house! You don’t need to wake up in the middle of the night for your midnight pie run to find the remnants of your dinner scattered all over the kitchen because you didn’t take the necessary precautions and take out the trash!

Have a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving

Family, friends, and fur babies are the perfect combination for Thanksgiving. There are additional safety tips available from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and from PetPlace. These sites provide tips on the topics we discussed in this post as well as a few other dangers. You can also check with your local veterinarian or shelter. They will have information that is more specific to your location.






I am crazy about dogs and want to make them happy and healthy.


  1. Great tips! I don’t have a dog yet, but my daughter desperately wants one, so I’ve been doing some research. I knew that you shouldn’t feed your dogs too many people food scraps. But I love that you make your dogs a plate for Thanksgiving. i think that’s sweet! They can be a part of the family feast, and you can control what they get. 

    Why can’t dogs have raw meat? I would think that’s something that their bodies would be accustomed to? Does it pose some of the same risks for them as it poses for us?

    • Christina, please get your daughter a dog, but work with your local shelter to find just the right one.  They can help you match the temperament to your daughter (and you).  Many shelters also have classes designed for children to teach them how to take care of the dog.  Too many people adopt a dog and then lose interest after a while.  They forget that a dog is a commitment for 12-15 years or more.  I have chihuahuas who are the longest lived dogs at 20 years.  

      If that is not possible, see if you can let your daughter volunteer at the shelter so that she can understand the commitment and work that is required for any pet.

      As for the raw meat, yes, dogs should have cooked meat because of the risks of salmonella.  I once thought to open a dog friendly cafe where the menu was suitable for both people and dogs – no separate menu.

      Happy Thanksgiving!  Ellen

  2. Hello Ellen. I hope you are enjoying the season and happy Thanksgiving to you. Thank you for sharing this awesome post to ensure dog safety during thanksgiving. Awesome headings there! 🙂

    Yeah you’re right, doggies can easily be tempted by waste that may not be healthy for them. Thank you for sharing these products and tips. They would help alot.

    • Barry, Thank you for your comments.  When we keep our dogs safe, the holiday is much nicer.  Happy Thanksgiving to you!  Ellen

  3. Hi and thank you for creating this site as many dog owners need some advice for how to look after their digs. Especially at festive times as there are so many things that they can find and eat  that can be so dangerous for them. And let’s be honest, most people are too busy eating and drinking to know what they’re doing before it’s too late and your going to the vets. Thanks, Kenny 

    • Kenny, yes, I want to prevent the stories in the news that just break my heart.  Happy Thanksgiving!  Ellen

  4. Yes Thanksgiving can be time consuming and it’s good to see you give tips on how to take care our dogs during this period, I can even begin to imagine the dog just dragging the table cloth and letting the whole room, I love the JW Pet Chompion Heavyweight Dog Pet, atleast it gives the dog something to chew on.

    Great article and Thank you for the tips.

    • Cinderella, when my in-laws get together for Thanksgiving, there are easily 20 people and 7 dogs so it is bedlam.  The tablecloth still stays on the table, but  who knows when one of the dogs will get adventuresome!  Happy Thanksgiving!  Ellen

  5. Some really good advice here – and you’ve covered a few pointers I wouldn’t have thought about myself. Over here (the UK) we have Guy Fawkes night on the 5th of November – that’s when all the fireworks go off and the dogs cower under the kitchen tables. 

    I was surprised to read your paragraph on open fires, as we have one in our house, and when I come to think about it, our dog never goes anywhere near it (and he’s a sucker for warmth normally!). A really good point and one we will take into consideration in future. 

    Are there any ways of training a dog to be less nervous around open fire situations?

    • Chris, I remember Guy Fawkes’ Night and the children in the Tube stations asking for a “Penny for the Guy”.  

      I wish there was a way to train dogs to be less nervous around fire, but I think that it’s instinctual.  My youngest dog gets nervous and does his chihuahua shake as soon as he sees the wood come in.  

      Thanks, Ellen

  6. In all the festivities, it’s great that dog safety is considered. It’s easy to forget during all the indulgence, socializing etc. Great suggestions. People reading will find this very useful. I’m sure many people wasn’t paying much attention to this as they are busy trying to get everything in place for their families and friends.

    Nice post.

    • Brenda, Thank you for your comments.  It is easy to lose track of our pets during a large holiday.  Happy Thanksgiving!  Ellen

  7. This is a good read and very informative. Your safety reminder here will definitely benefit dog owners out there! I hope this will reach a lot of people.

    I had a dog before, who accidentally ate a chicken with a bone! We didn’t know until he showed up signs, got sick and when we went to the vet, it’s too late. That incident took his life… it was really sad and heartbreaking for our family.

    You’re article really serves as a reminder for people to be careful specially on festivities/occassions like this. 

    • I am so sorry to hear that.  Your story breaks my heart which is why I felt the need to write this article.  Happy Thanksgiving!

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