Thanksgiving is a day filled with comfort foods for humans—creamy potatoes, silky gravy, and oh-so-carby stuffing. It’s tempting to treat your favorite companion animals, too. Once you catch a glimpse of those adorable, begging eyes, you might want to let them lick a dollop of mashed potatoes off your finger or toss them a hunk of turkey. (Be careful ... here are the human foods that are toxic to dogs.)

No matter how much you want to spoil your pup, there’s one big mistake on Thanksgiving that could actually send Buddy to the vet. Do *not* give your dog a turkey bone to gnaw on.

Although cartoons love to show doggies munching away on bones, in real life, real bones are a major threat to a dog’s health. Once cooked, turkey bones (as well as chicken bones) are small and brittle, and they can easily splinter inside your dog’s gastrointestinal tract, according to the American Kennel Club.

When your dog swallows a turkey bone, health risks include:

  • Cuts in the mouth and throat
  • Choking
  • Blocking the digestive tract
  • Puncturing the stomach or intestines
  • Internal bleeding
  • And potentially death.

In some cases, your pup may need emergency surgery. Ruptured organs would need to be stitched together—a serious operation that would definitely put a damper on your celebration.

Even if you choose not to give your dog a turkey bone, they might find one anyway. Dogs have a knack for hunting out these tempting treats. If you do catch your dog with a turkey bone in her mouth, remain calm. Dogs can be possessive over their food, and if you panic and try to rip it out of her mouth, she might try even harder to chew and swallow it quickly.

Calmly and slowly take the bones out of her mouth, make sure she’s not choking, call your vet for suggestions, and watch for signs of internal bleeding or blockages, such as:

  • Lethargy
  • Constipation
  • Bloated stomach
  • Bloody stool
  • And vomiting.

If you notice these symptoms, take your dog to the vet immediately. This is not the time to “wait and see what happens.”

Prevention Tips to Keep Your Dog Away from Turkey Bones

Even if you have one of those low-maintenance dogs who rarely tries to swipe human food off your plate, it’s still a good idea to take caution to keep the turkey bones away from any dogs in the house. To make sure your dog doesn’t swallow any turkey bones, follow these tips from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration:

  • Keep turkey platters out of reach. If you set it on a table or counter, make sure your dog can’t jump up there and grab a piece or knock the platter down to the floor.

  • Don’t place the bones in a trash can that your dog has access to. (After all, you know by now that your dog has no problems dumpster diving.) If you throw bones away, tie up the bag and dispose of it in a dumpster or bin outside or in another room.

  • Have vet-approved snacks on hand. This might help satisfy your dog despite all those other nummy foods on the table.

It’s better safe than sorry, and it’s worth it to make that trip out to the trash bin in the cold garage. A vet-free holiday is something the whole family can be thankful for.


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