25 Ways To Keep Your Dog Safe This Holiday Season!

December 3rd, 2008 by Dan

The holidays are hectic times filled with excitement, changes and for many people, stress. These feelings aren’t limited to humans though, they effect our canine companions as well. While we may be occupied with fulfilling every ones wish lists and decorating the tree, our dogs are often left pondering why there is a tree in the living room! It’s easy for our pets to get lost in the shuffle during this time of year, but with the additional risks that come along with the holidays, it’s more important than ever to keep them safe. Here is a helpful guide to keep your dog safe this year, ensuring everyone a happy holiday!

Photo by Chase Images

* Decorations and Your Dog

While your dog might be enthralled with the idea that he now has his own personal tree *inside the house* (no leg lifting please!), Christmas trees can prove to be quite dangerous to our dogs. While the hazards of having a tree seem to be many, it just takes a little bit of common sense to keep your pup safe. Dogs should never be left unattended in the same room with a Christmas tree.

* Trees need to be safely secured in a base to prevent tipping; keep in mind that a tail could give it a whack at any moment.

* If your dog is prone to eating greenery, you may want to consider an artificial tree. The newest models have non-toxic needles. Consuming Pine needles can cause GI upset.

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Hang any delicate or breakable ornaments towards the top of the tree, far out of the reach of your canine. Many dogs think that Christmas ornaments are toys and will try and remove them. Avoid putting glass or anything that could potentially cut your dog if chewed, at the bottom of the tree.

* Edibles should be avoided. Your dog won’t be able to resist candy canes and cookies hanging within his reach. Strings of popcorn can be especially dangerous as the string itself can be consumed and become twisted internally once swallowed.

* Tinsel and metal ornament hooks can be very dangerous if they are swallowed. Hanging ornaments with small pieces of twine is a safer option.

* Please do not use “Angelhair” (a strand made out of spun glass) on your tree! This beautiful garland can cause eye, skin and GI irritation!

* Make sure your dog does not chew the chords of the lights on the tree. This can easily lead to electrocution. Spraying cords with a product like “Bitter Apple” may help deter some dogs from this dangerous activity!

* If your pooch can’t be around the tree safely, use a baby gate to keep him safely separated. This will let him see you and hear you, but he won’t be able to make any mischief.

* Keep pets away from presents. You never know when he may decide to open them! Intestinal blockages can be caused by string, plastic ribbons, cloth and even large amounts of paper.

* Make sure you pick up your workspace when wrapping as dogs may end up injuring themselves on scissors that are left out.

Photo by vicky__

Treats Or Trouble?

The feasting that started with Thanksgiving continues! Here are a few items to keep in mind when you are about to pass your dog that extra scrap off your plate at your holiday meal.

* While the occasional *small* treat of human food is fine, feeding your dog increased amounts of fatty foods can lead to serious health issues including pancreatitis. For more on this condition, check out this article.

* Alcohol poisoning is very serious and can be fatal to dogs. Eggnog is especially tempting to canines because of its sweet flavor. Remind guests to keep all drinks out of the reach of the dogs.

* While most people know that chocolate is toxic to dogs, there are many other human foods that are unsafe for your dog. Check out our list of forbidden foods and know what should be off limits to your pooch.

Photo by tollen

Hazards Of Holiday Plants

Besides the tree, there are certain plants that are commonly associated with the holidays. However, some of these unassuming, festive beauties can be toxic to your pets. If you believe your dog has consumed a toxic plant or substance, the ASPCA has a poison control hotline staffed by veterinary toxicologists available 24 hours a day. The number is 1-888-426-4435. There is a $60 fee for this service.

* Mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal issues including vomiting and diarrhea, cardiovascular collapse, shortness of breath, bradycardia (a slow heart beat), erratic behavior, shock and even death. The berries are the toxic part of the plant. If your dog ingests mistletoe, seek veterinary treatment right away.

* Poinsettias have been rumored to be highly toxic for years, but in actuality most common varieties of these festive plants have sap that can be irritating to your pet, thus they are considered to be mildly toxic. If your pet consumes some of a Poinsettia, they may experience excessive salivation, vomiting or diarrhea. If you can see the sap on your pet, rinse it off to prevent any further irritation. If an excessive amount of the plant was consumed, a trip to the vet may be warranted.

* Holly – Don’t deck the halls with this within your pets reach, as the colorful berries can cause intense vomiting and diarrhea.

* Amaryllis looks beautiful, but this potted plant can cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, excessive salivation, anorexia, tremors and can prove to be fatal if ingested.

* While it isn’t a plant, the oils used in potpourri can be toxic to animals if consumed. Keep it out of pets reach.

Photo by scottnj

Mood Lighting

Candles and fireplaces set the mood for the holiday season. Take some precautions to keep your dog safe.

* The flickering of candles often draws in the curiosity of dogs. Make sure that these are well out of nose (and tail) reach!

* Everyone loves sitting in front of a fire, and your dog will love laying in front of one! Make sure to use a fire screen placed directly in front of the fireplace to keep sparks from potentially burning your pup.

Photo by *L*u*z*a*

Relaxation and Routine

Your dog probably senses the changes in your mood with the upcoming holiday and may be acting out accordingly. You may notice some changes in behavior if your dog is especially sensitive. Here are a few tips to help keep your dog grounded during this busy season.

* Try to maintain your dog’s schedule and routines as much as possible. Canines are creatures of habit and these rituals are comforting to them. When they are drastically disrupted it can be upsetting and your dog may act out.

* Make sure your dog has a safe, quiet place for himself – away from guests! Set up his bed in a quiet room with a few of his favorite toys to keep him occupied. If the scene in your house becomes too chaotic, this can be a comfortable refuge.

* Don’t slack on your dog’s exercise requirements. If your dog isn’t getting the physical stimulation he needs this season, he is going to be more destructive and hyperactive inside the house. If your schedule doesn’t allow for long walks, look into hiring a professional dog walker.

* While it may be nice to have your dog out and about while company is around, please keep your dog safely away from the front door as it opens and closes repeatedly. The constant flow of traffic gives canines a perfect chance to make a break for it. You don’t want to end up with the heart break of searching for your pup when you are supposed to be celebrating. Investing in a sturdy baby gate can keep him contained and still give a clear view of the action.

* Remember that not all guests may be as fond of your dog as you are. They may not know how to interact with a dog properly. In these cases it is best to put your dog in another room to keep everyone (your dog included) comfortable.

Photo by chunks

While this may be a long list, I don’t want anyone’s holiday to be dampened by a ill or injured pet! Keep your furry buddies safe and make sure you take some time out of your crazy schedule to relax with them! You’ll both enjoy it! Happy Holidays!





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