Today’s guest writer is Robbi Hess, Story Editor at Positively Woof. Robbi is sharing pet safety tips for foods and travel during the holidays.

The holiday season is kicking into high gear. Thanksgiving is the traditional “first holiday” of the season and brings family and friends together to enjoy one another’s company and eat delicious foods. Thanksgiving, or any large gathering where there is food, can be dangerous for your dogs.

Pet parents understand the need to keep holiday foods away from their furbabies, but friends and family may not know that. It’s up to you to keep your dog safe when you aren’t the only one in the house and when you may be too busy to monitor what’s happening with him.

How To Keep Your Dog Safe On Thanksgiving Day: Travel, Food & Family Tips

No table scraps, please. Guests will think your dogs will be thrilled if someone sneaks them a piece of turkey, a forkful of stuffing, or a piece of apple from that delicious apple pie.

Remind your guests that human food is off limits for your dog. Tell your guests  your dog eats on a regular schedule and human foods will make her ill. Yes, you know she will be begging with those huge puppy dog eyes, but your guests need to be strong and resist the urge to sneak her a treat.

The dangers:

  1.   Fatty foods – like turkey skin – can be hard for your dog to digest.
  2.   Turkey bones could shatter when your dog chews them and can damage her intestines.
  3.   Desserts with chocolate can be harmful or life threatening. Any dessert that has artificial sweeteners (xylitol) can be deadly. Alcohol, too can be deadly to your pet.

Keep food on the tables and out of reach of your dogs. A plate, left unattended, on a low-to-your-dog table will be too much of a temptation for many dogs to resist.

If you believe your dog has eaten something he shouldn’t have, call your veterinarian immediately! You may also want to have someone else call ASPCA’s Poison Control Hotline at 888-426-4435.

Pet poisoning signs include:

  1.   Pain
  2.   Vomiting
  3.   Diarrhea
  4.   Changes in behavior
  5.   Panting

You are your dog’s best first line of defense as you understand and are in tune with how he typically acts; pet parents are very intuitive to their dog’s health. If you notice changes, you need to take action.

Decorative plants can be harmful. The flowers and festive plants and decorations placed around your house or used as table centerpieces can be toxic to pets.

Some toxic plants include:

  1.   Baby’s breath
  2.   Some ferns
  3.   Hydrangeas
  4.   Lilies
  5.   Poinsettias

Decorations, too, can be harmful. A lovely garland wreath could have small wires to hold the decorations in place or could be sprayed with paint or “fake snow” and those could prove harmful to your dog.

Holiday party gathering precautions

When the holidays arrive, so too do housefuls of strangers. You know the guests and family members, but your dog doesn’t. Every guest you welcome is an opportunity for your dog to feel upset or stressed.

A dog who is typically excitable may be pushed to higher levels of enthusiasm and that could lead to him jumping on a guest or a child or even biting out of sheer excitement. Keep your excitable pup away from guests if possible.

Your dog, if he’s not accustomed to a houseful of strangers,  may welcome the opportunity to escape to his crate. If that’s the case and his crate is his “safe place” make sure it’s easily accessible for him and not so easily accessible for your guests. You don’t want guests to be sticking their hands into his safe place and upsetting him even further.

Your dog may not like being crated, but he may not mind being alone in a bedroom with DOGTV on the television for him. The soothing programming on the DOGTV channel will keep him company and help alleviate the stress he may be feeling with all of the activity in “his” house. 

If your dog is well-behaved and accustomed to a houseful of guests, you will want to make certain she is accounted for every time the door opens and closes. Even the most well-behaved dog could get scared and bolt out an open door. Guests who may be unaware your dog isn’t allowed out of the house when she’s not on a leash may think they’re doing you a favor by opening the door to let her out and that could lead to disaster! Tell everyone that your dog is NOT allowed out of doors without you and that you always walk her on a leash.

Tell your guests to please “not put your face in the dog’s face.” The most mild-mannered dog could bite someone if they are right in their face. It’s common sense to not do that, but not everyone is a pet parent and not everyone knows what pet parents know!

Travel safety tips

If it’s your turn to travel to the homes of friends and relatives and your dog is welcome, bring her along! She would rather be with you than being boarded, right?

If your dog isn’t a seasoned traveler and if she gets uncomfortable in new situations with new people, you may want to leave her with your favorite pet sitter. You know your dog best and you know whether she’d be happier with you or happier in her own home.

Bring your dog’s health certificate and recent vaccinations and medical records. If he gets ill while you’re away from your regular veterinarian, you need to be prepared by having his up-to-date medical records in hand.

Microchip and have a collar and tag with your contact information. Having your dog microchipped and wearing a collar with an ID tag may seem like overkill, but not everyone is aware of microchipping and how to have the chip scanned. A stranger may not be inclined to take your dog to a vet or shelter to have him scanned. A collar with an ID tag is an ideal back up.

Never leave your dog alone in the car. It doesn’t matter what time of year you travel, you need to make arrangements for those times when you need to make a pit stop and can’t take your dog in with you. If you’re not traveling alone, problem solved. If you are traveling alone you need to map out routes that have pet-friendly and pet-welcoming pit stop locations.

If you will be leaving your dog at a hotel or AirBnB while you visit your friends and family, turn on DOGTV. Doing this will leave him with “company” rather than a completely silent new-to-him location, and the programming on the channel that will help alleviate his separation anxiety. 

Keep your dog safely restrained in the car. Having your dog ride on your lap can lead to deadly consequences; unless she is safely restrained in her own dog harness and buckled into your seat belt as well. It’s safer for your dogs to ride in the back seat and they need to be restrained.

Bring along your dog’s favorite items from home. Even if your dog is a seasoned traveler, it’s always best to bring some of his favorite items from home – a bed, a toy, his water and food bowls. You will want to bring his regular dog food (a vacation is no time to switch foods and risk vomiting and diarrhea!). Some pet parents even bring water from home because that is what their dogs are accustomed to.

Pet parents know that packing for a trip with their dogs can be as time-consuming as packing for themselves or for children! It’s necessary, though to keep your dog safe, happy and healthy during the holidays.