Wednesday, November 27, 2013

5 ways to keep your dogs safe and sound this Thanksgiving

Sinead the Boston terrier with pumpkins

This is Sinead's first spin through the fall season, and I'm planning to include her in the festivities. I think she'll enjoy the activity, and the added attention, but there are a few wee dangers lurking out there that I'll need to prepare for. I thought sharing them here might be a good idea, as it might allow you to do the same for your dogs. So here goes!

Skip the leftovers and handouts.

It's tempting to load up a dog's plate with turkey and ham bites, and slather the whole thing with gravy. However, these fatty meals can do a real number on a dog's innards, and sometimes, these meals can even put dogs in the hospital. Dr. Heidi Houchen covers this issue in great detail in a wonderful post she wrote for Spot Magazine, and I'd encourage every dog owner to read that before even thinking about giving a dog a plate from the table.

Keep dog collars on at all times.

Sinead and Liam both have two tags on their collars, and they jingle to beat the band. Often, I take their collars off in the evenings, so I can get a little peace, but I won't be doing that on Thanksgiving. With so many people coming and going, in and out, there are too many chances for little dogs to slip into the night. It's best to ensure that they have tags that can allow them to get home again. (As well as I.D. chips, which I've written about here.)

Watch for dog/kid interactions.

Big family get-togethers can sometimes mean allowing dogs and kids to come together in unusual combinations. Some dogs (like mine) have very little kid experience, and some kids have very little dog experience. Rather than letting the wee ones work it out, vigilance is required. I'll be keeping Sinead on a leash, so I know where she is in relation to my very small nephew, and I'll be on alert when they come within touching distance. Chances are, all will go well and there will be no need for caution. But a scuffle could certainly ruin the mood, so it's best to handle the issue with care.

Allow for frequent puppy potty breaks. 

When my dogs get excited, they tend to drink more water, and that means they need to head outside on a regular basis. Ignoring that signal could mean undoing months (or years) of training, as desperate dogs might just pee where they stand. Watching the clock and taking the dogs out every few hours is the best way to ensure that they get the relief they need, when they need it.

Mind the trash. 

In the evening hours, when the party has been going on for quite some time and the turkey coma has set it, people tend to get a little lax about sanitation. Cups and plates pile up in the sink, and some bones and napkins don't quite make it into the garbage can. Sneaky dogs can pull together quite a meal in a scenario like this, and again, they could get quite sick as a result of this foraging. Taking frequent sweeps through the kitchen can help, as can judicious use of the leash. I plan to take both of these steps.

Thanksgiving can be great fun, but it's best to think ahead avoid any pitfalls that may lie between you and turkey bliss. If I've missed any glaring safety steps, let me know in the comments section.

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