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Thanksgiving With Fido

November 15 2017

Thanksgiving is just around the corner! Dogs are definitely something to be thankful for! Of course, as you prepare for the big day, Fido may very well be underfoot, sticking close by in the hopes that you’ll ‘accidentally’ drop a tasty treat or two. Just be sure to keep your pet’s health and safety in mind as the autumn holiday approaches. Here, a McHenry, IL vet discusses Thanksgiving with Fido.


There’s no reason your pup can’t enjoy a special holiday snack. Just be very careful with what you give your pooch. Many popular holiday foods are poisonous to dogs. Never give Fido anything that contains garlic, onion, scallions, or chives; nuts; chocolate; caffeine; alcohol; grapes, currants, or raisins; or xylitol. Pitted fruits, especially avocados, are also on the no-no list, as are raw meat, dough, and yeast; meat on the bone; and candy. Offer your furry friend some plain, cooked, meat, fish, or poultry with the skin, bones, and fat removed.


While some dogs see visitors as opportunities for extra belly rubs and ear scritches, others become uneasy when guests arrive. If Fido gets overexcited or nervous around company, put him in a quiet back room with food, toys, treats, and bedding when people start to arrive. Put a baby gate at the door, so he can still see, hear, and interact with you, and won’t feel so isolated.


We know, it can be hard to resist those adorable puppy-dog eyes. However, at the end of the day, begging is bad petiquette! It can also make visitors uncomfortable. Keep Fido in another area while you’re eating, and feed him at the same time, so he’ll be more preoccupied with his meal than yours. We also recommend tiring your pup out with a long walk and a vigorous play session before guests arrive. Tired dogs are good dogs!


Never underestimate Fido’s ability to get himself into trouble! Trash is one thing to be concerned about. You don’t want your pet trying to score leftovers out of the garbage, as it could contain dangerous items like bones, tin foil, toothpicks, wrappers, can lids, and other hazards. Candles, heaters, and even decorative items are also dangerous to dogs. Keep these things in secure places your pup can’t reach.

Our Advice on Thanksgiving With Fido in 2024

What are some common Thanksgiving foods that are poisonous to dogs?

Thanksgiving brings a bounty of dishes to our tables, but not all are safe for our canine companions. Common festive foods that pose a threat to dogs include chocolate, which contains theobromine, which is harmful to their cardiovascular and nervous systems. Garlic, onions, scallions, and chives in many savory dishes can cause gastrointestinal upset and potentially lead to red blood cell damage. Grapes, currants, and raisins are notably toxic, risking kidney failure. Xylitol, a sweetener in many desserts and candies, can trigger a rapid insulin release, leading to hypoglycemia. Always err on the side of caution and keep these foods out of Fido’s reach to ensure a safe and happy Thanksgiving for your furry family member.

How can you safely include your dog in the Thanksgiving feast?

Including your dog in Thanksgiving festivities can be done safely with a few precautions. Opt for plain, cooked meats like turkey or chicken, ensuring they’re free of bones, skin, and rich seasonings that can upset their stomach. Vegetables like carrots or green beans, steamed and unseasoned, make healthy, dog-friendly sides. Avoid toxic foods such as onions, grapes, chocolate, and anything with xylitol. Keep portions small to prevent gastrointestinal distress. Lastly, ensure your dog’s feast is served in their bowl, maintain regular feeding routines to discourage begging, and maintain dietary stability during the holiday.

What are potential hazards for dogs during Thanksgiving, and how can you protect them?

Thanksgiving poses several hazards for dogs, including access to toxic foods. Chocolate, xylitol (found in sugar-free products), onions, grapes, and alcohol can be extremely harmful. Keep these out of reach. Also, turkey bones and fatty trimmings can cause choking or pancreatitis. Secure your trash bins to prevent scavenging. Decorations and candles should be placed where dogs can’t knock them over, preventing injury or fire. Lastly, the hustle and bustle of guests can stress pets. Provide a quiet, comfortable space for your dog to retreat if they feel overwhelmed. This proactive approach ensures a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving for everyone, including your four-legged family member.

What are the signs that your dog may need veterinary care during or after Thanksgiving?

It’s crucial to watch for signs that your dog may need veterinary attention during or after Thanksgiving. Key symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite, lethargy, or unusual behavior, which could indicate ingestion of toxic foods or foreign objects. Signs of pancreatitis, often caused by high-fat foods, include abdominal pain, bloating, and restlessness. Difficulty breathing, coughing, or sudden changes in behavior can suggest more severe issues, like foreign body obstruction or toxic reactions. Prompt recognition and response to these symptoms by seeking veterinary care can be critical for your dog’s health.

How can you ensure your dog’s health and safety during Thanksgiving?

To ensure your dog’s health and safety during Thanksgiving, start by keeping toxic foods like chocolate, grapes, onions, and foods with xylitol well out of reach. Opt for dog-safe treats instead of table scraps to avoid digestive issues. Ensure trash is securely stored to prevent your dog from scavenging harmful leftovers or objects. Create a quiet, comfortable space for your dog away from the festivities to reduce stress and the risk of escape when guests arrive or leave. Lastly, maintain your pet’s routine as much as possible, including feeding times and walks, to provide stability amidst the holiday bustle.

Happy Thanksgiving! Please contact us, your McHenry, IL pet hospital, for all of your dog’s veterinary care needs.