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Head of the Class Dog Training LLC 

Winchester, VA

Keeping Your Pets Safe on Thanksgiving

When we think of Thanksgiving, we usually think of feasting, family, football and fun. Our pets are part of the family, so of course we want to let them in on the celebration. But many Thanksgiving treats that we enjoy can have ill health effects for our furry friends. Here are some tips to keep your animals safe during the Thanksgiving season.

  • Toss tin foil and plastic wrap in a place where your animals can’t reach it. The food smells on plastic wrap and tin foil can be very appetizing to your pets, but could cause intestinal blockages if they’re ingested. Even if your pet doesn’t eat the foil or plastic wrap, licking fatty foods off these can cause gastrointestinal upset. Dispose of these right away in a secure trash can to avoid any upset stomachs or emergency trips to the vet.
  • Don’t give your dog bones. Yes, dogs love to chew on bones, but there are safe bones for dogs and unsafe bones. Cooked turkey, chicken, duck and other bird bones are not safe for dogs to chew on, as they are hollow and splinter easily. The best bet is to give your dog a safe chew alternative as bones of any type can pose a risk of either bowel obstruction or tooth breakage. (Some bones are too hard for teeth, and dogs have been known for getting their lower jaw stuck in the center of some bones.) Place some of your dog’s kibble with a little canned food in a Kong in the freezer, and give that to your dog to chew on instead. Dehydrated sweet potato chews are also yummy to dogs, and usually healthier than leftovers.
  • Keep chocolate out of reach – Most people know that chocolate can be toxic to dogs and cats, but Thanksgiving is a time when you may leave dishes of candy out for guests. Make sure to keep chocolate well out of reach from your animals. Ensure your guests also know to keep chocolate out of reach and definitely do not feed chocolate to your animals.
  • If you decide to share the feast, do it selectively – A large amount of table food, even if you do choose foods that aren’t toxic to pets, can still cause a great amount of strain on their digestive systems. Too much fatty or rich food can result in pancreatitis, a distressing, painful, and possibly life threatening condition. If you do want to share your Thanksgiving feast, consider sharing plain sweet potatoes, small bits of unseasoned, lean turkey with the skin removed and vegetables with no added oils or butter. Mix small bits of these treats in with their regular kibble for a healthy Thanksgiving treat.
  • Keep pets away from holiday plants and decorations – Holiday plants like mistletoe, cedar trees and holly berries are all toxic to pets. Poinsettias and other plants can cause your dog to vomit. As you start to deck the halls after Christmas, keep toxic plants out of the house and opt for artificial versions instead. If you have an animal who likes to chew, keep decorations that could be choking hazards out of reach.
  • Make sure your guests know the rules concerning your pets and table food – Though guests may have the best intentions sharing the holiday feast with your pets, make sure they know the rules of your house concerning feeding your animals. Keep the table scraps to a minimum and only with safe foods and make sure your guests do the same.


Do you need some more tips? Check out our library of articles. And if you have questions, be sure to contact us. Head of the Class Dog Training is here to help.

Lisa Marino, CPDT-KA, KPA-CTP, PMCT, has taken her varied teaching experiences and applied them to helping owners understand and train their beloved four-legged family members. She has more than four years’ experience leading group dog training classes at Best Paw Forward in Hartland, WI, and opened Head of the Class Dog Training LLC in Winchester, VA in 2012, where she conducts group classes and private lessons, as well as helps owners to modify their dogs' problem behaviors.

Lisa earned her CPDT-KA in 2012, is a 2015 graduate of the prestigious Karen Pryor Academy and is a Pat Miller Certified Trainer.

She has 4 registered therapy dogs and is a Pet Partner Therapy Team Evaluator and a member of HOPE AACR. As a former middle school teacher, she works well with families and children and does school presentations on various dog related topics.