top of page

6 Tips for the Best Thanksgiving with Your Dog!

Holidays are a time for bad dad jokes, way too much food, and a serious lack of routine. In general, this is where mishaps occur. A distracted pawrent, an overly generous Uncle from Ohio, a wobbly toddler at face-licking height are all setting your dog up for a thrilling weekend filled with risky obstacles at every turn. Things are exciting, chaotic and a little unpredictable. So, to ensure a super fun and safe Thanksgiving, here are my top 6 tips to keep you from waiting hours at the very busy, very expensive, 24 hour Emergency Vet. (Cause, that’s all that’s open on the holiday!)


It can be extremely tempting to treat your pup to some of the Thanksgiving feast, but know what the risks are before you let them indulge. Many turkeys are slathered with tons of spices that make it super tasty to us, but also pose a threat to our pups. For example, you may know that Garlic and onion are toxic, but did you know they actually destroy your dog’s red blood cells and can lead to anemia. Scary business!


Bones have been tied together with canine culture like turkey and stuffing. It’s been seen in everything from cartoons to movies to idioms, but the sad truth is dogs die every year from ingesting them. Some grab them from an accessible trash can, others are gifted them from well-intentioned owners, but the results are often the same: a very sick and sometimes fatally ill pooch. When a dog is chewing down on a tasty turkey leg, their strong jaw breaks the bone into bite size shards that can cause serious internal injuries when swallowed. They can get lodged in the stomach, intestines or they even damage their teeth while chewing on them. So friends, long story short, and to spare you more details, avoid bones at all costs!

Fatty Foods

Many of the tasty Thanksgiving foods are high in fat. Everyone is getting ready to (re)start those New Year’s Resolutions, so time pack on the butter, cream and gravy now, while they still can. Although we might put on a pound or two over the holiday season, if your pup indulges like us, their waistline isn’t the biggest thing at risk. High fat foods in a pup can cause an upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea and sometimes pancreatitis.

You Know Best

For those of you who are reading this saying, “DUH!” (which makes me oh-so-happy!), it’s good to remember that your guests may not be as well versed on doggy “do’s and don'ts”. After all, Nana just wants to spoil her grand-dog! If your pup is joining the party make sure everyone is on the same page so your dog can enjoy your company, safely. I suggest having dog treats or even their kibble in a treat jar available to your guests to give out. Then, everyone is happy!

Escape Artists

During holidays people are coming and going without being aware of the pet’s in the house. Sneaky pups and panicked cats can slip out of an open door in the blink of an eye. If you live in the city or on a busy road, cars are the biggest threat to your pet. It can be a good idea to put your dog in a safe place, separated from the crowd, so she can stay out of trouble. This can be a bedroom, a crate or sectioned off with a baby gate. I’ll give my pup a Kong toy filled with peanut butter that I froze overnight. Keeps her busy for hours! Just make sure it’s dog safe PB (no xylotol).

Nervous Pets

I don’t know about you, but when we have a lot of people over, my dog is a bundle of mixed emotions. She’s excited, nervous, wants to play... wait, nope...she wants to hide. She loves her, but she’s terrified of him. Basically, she’s a ball of anxiety. And while I have never seen her try to bite, I know that in certain circumstances she might, out of fear or to protect herself, and this is true of most dogs. Know your pet, and if they are acting overwhelmed by the crowd, being harassed by a toddler or dodging heeled aunts, it may be best to separate them from the party with one of the suggestions I mentioned above.

I’m sure you’re reading this thinking, this is a tad overly cautious, and you may be right, but after working with dogs in the ER for years, I know one thing is true: Black Friday is a shopping day for you and pancreatitis, turkey bone foreign body extravaganza for Veterinarians. By the end of the month, Animal Hospitals will have seen hundreds of these cases. So, while you sit feeling grateful for the flannel blanket, wood burning stove and best deals of the year with a healthy, snoring hound by your feet, know that the veterinary world will is grateful for one less case of diarrhea.

Enough about sick pups! The fun part of the holiday are about memories and cute family photos like this stunning couple here!

Bonus: family & Pet Thanksgiving Photos!

Holiday photos are a pretty typical tradition at big family gatherings and Chief should be included! The hardest part of group shots is getting your dog to look at the camera. Here are some of my best pet photo tips for the holidays.

Get the treats and squeak toys ready.

If you have someone to take the photo for you, have them wait until everyone is looking, and squeak the toy as they snap the picture! Make sure they don’t squeak it until you are 100% ready, because the more you use the noise, the less they are sensitive or react to it. That first squeak will be the most effective.

If you are using a self timer, throwing a treat toward the camera just before the shot will usually get the dog to look up in that direction! You can also place something appealing in your dog’s line of vision. That could be a funny noise on the tv when you hit play, a tasty treat, their favorite toy or even another pup in the background! Anything that “distracts” your pup you can use to your advantage. Place yourself and the family across from the distraction and it will appear that they are looking into the camera with you! A pawfect portrait!

Have everyone be very quiet.

When there is a lot of noise and commotion, pups tend to get over stimulated, nervous and often looks scared in the photos. Having everyone be really quiet for the picture will help your dog stay calm and will even make that squeak toy even more effective. During sessions I will sometimes ask everyone to whisper and it really helps!

Keep looking at the camera.

It can be really tricky to get a pup to look at the camera, but when they do, you want everyone else to be smiling and looking too. The best way to do that is by having everyone keep looking and smiling constantly, and leave the pup as the only moving factor. Then, when you start to snap away, the one photo your dog looks, everyone else is too and you got the shot!

These are great for group shots and crowded scenes. For more photo tips and tricks for portraits with your dog in the spotlight, check out 5 more secrets to get your dog to look at the camera.

Hope this helps you to have a relaxed, safe and enjoyable holiday with your dog! If you found it useful, pass it along to another pawrent! Who knows, it could save a pooches life, or at the least, a friend's bank account!

Happy Thanksgiving my loves :)

81 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page