Thanksgiving Dinner With Pets: Our Top 5 Tips

Hosting Thanksgiving dinner as a pet owner can come with its own unique set of concerns: How do I keep the dog from swiping the turkey off the counter before it's served? Will allergic Uncle Bob spend the entire meal in an uncontrollable fit of sneezing?

Luckily, we've put together our top 5 Thanksgiving dinner tips for dogs and cats below, so you can stop worrying and get back to menu planning. After all, Thanksgiving should be a day to safely enjoy delicious food and fellowship with all of your loved ones — including the four-legged variety!

Our Top 5 Thanksgiving Dinner Tips for Dogs and Cats

Dog Begging

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1. Teach your dog to stop begging at the table.

Although there might not be time to completely retrain your dog in time for Thanksgiving, there are steps you can take to help prevent him from begging at the table. Make sure everyone in your family is consistent about not feeding your dog from the table. It’s important to remain strong and not give in to any whining or barking. Encouraging alternative behaviors while everyone is eating, like providing your dog with a stuffed Kong to chew on, can also be extremely helpful.

Thanksgiving Stuffing

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2. Don’t slip your pet these dangerous foods.

Just can’t resist that pitiful stare from underneath the table? If you can't bear to leave your furriest family member out of the holiday feast, be aware that there are certain foods that could be dangerous for her to indulge in. Rich or fatty foods can cause pancreatitis or gastrointestinal upset, while onions, garlic and some spices are actually toxic to animals. Here's a more comprehensive list of what holiday foods could be harmful to your pet, as well as a few that might be okay. 

Cat on Kitchen Counter

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3. Keeps cats and dogs off your counter.

While you might not have a problem with your kitty having free reign over the kitchen, your guests may not feel the same. Prevention is the key to keeping your cat or dog off the counters: Don’t leave food unattended and try to keep pets away from the kitchen and dining area. And when guests offer to help you clean up and put food away, take them up on it and prevent leftovers from sitting out.

Dog woman and child

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4. Make sure your guests, especially children, know how to interact properly with pets.

When hosting Thanksgiving, it’s probably a sure bet that your pet will be around some unfamiliar faces. Be sure your guests, especially children, know how to safely interact with your dog or cat. Keep greetings in an open area, give your pet adequate space and don’t allow guests to pick him up. However, if you know your pet will be uneasy with a crowd of people, it may be best for everyone to keep him in a separate area away from guests or at least allow him to have an area he can easily escape to when he wants to.

Person Brushing Cat

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5. Reduce pet allergens in your home so allergic guests feel more comfortable.

While it’s impossible to remove all pet allergens from your home, there are steps you can take to make it more comfortable for any allergy-prone guests. Give your pet a bath with a mild pet shampoo, clean your house thoroughly and use plug-in air filters. Try to remain realistic, though, and keep a supply of over-the-counter allergy medications on hand for guests just in case.

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