With the holiday season approaching, for us this means family, fun, and celebrations. But for your beloved canine, this can mean stress and added risk. There are many changes happening in your home during the holiday season, including visitors, decorations, big special meals, wrapped gifts, and don’t forget the Christmas tree. I would like to share with you some tricks, tips, and rules to help keep your fur baby(s) happy and safe during the holiday season.
The holidays are a busy time, with more traffic and activity in your home than usual. If increased activity and/or strangers tend to make your dog nervous, be sure to set up a quiet place for them to retreat. Make sure this quiet place has food, water, a nice warm bed, and other items that your dog might enjoy and would help keep them calm. If you’re hosting holiday parties, it may be best for them to have a quiet room to relax in away form all the noise and people. Playing soft music for them could also help in keeping them calm.
When hosting visitors, keep a leash and collar or harness securely on your dog. Make sure that they have ID tags showing your phone number. Also please be sure to have your dog is microchipped. Dogs can bolt out the door in a heartbeat and be gone. Keep an exercise pen set up at the door so that you can open the door, but your dog can’t escape.
Christmas Trees & Decorations
Tinsel, strings, yarn, and other items with long strands (i.e., popcorn and cranberries) can be tempting to your pets. Avoid the use of these items where pets can get to them.
Tethering your tree to the ceiling with a plan hook and a thin wire is a great safety measure that can assist in avoiding the possibility of your tree falling over. Curious pups who like to climb with those overly excited wagging tails will appreciate not having the tree falling on them. Also, monitor and prevent ingestion of pine needles and water under the tree. Tree water could contain fertilizer and bacteria.
Hang bells on the lower branches to help alert you that your pet is exploring the tree. Place your special breakable ornaments high up at the tops of the tree or even think about just keeping them in storage the years you’ll have young dogs around your home. An exercise pen around the tree is also a great idea to help remove the temptation for your dogs.
The skinny cords on Christmas tree lights are not well insulated and easy for a puppy to chew into. Electrocution can result, so safety is paramount. Keep the cords covered so pets stay safe. Also, consider keeping the lower branches of the tree free from lights. If you catch your dog chewing on a cord, unplug the cord immediately and move it out of their reach.
Traditional holiday plants like mistletoe and holly are toxic to dogs. Yew, the evergreen many people have in their landscaping, is extremely toxic. As a safety measure, avoid bringing clippings into your home to use as garland unless you can identify the variety. Poinsettias are not toxic, but any plant ingestions can lead to oral irritation, vomiting and/or diarrhea.
Several common holiday foods that humans can safely eat are unsafe for dogs. These include chocolate, raisins and grapes, Macadamia nuts, and sugarless products containing xylitol. Avoid putting food gifts under the tree, wrapped, or unwrapped, when your dogs will be in the room unsupervised. Alcohol innocently set on a low table or the floor can be quickly raided by a pet, leading to serious consequences.
Gifts under the tree occasionally include meats and cheeses. Too much fat from these can be dangerous. Bones and fats from ham, turkey, and other meats can cause pancreatitis or intestinal blockages. Mesh wrappers and leg holders on meats can also smell tempting but cause bowel obstructions. If you’ve got a dog who gets into trash cans, be sure to empty them when they’re full of food.
Human medications should always be assumed to be toxic to dogs. This is the case for prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Your guests may not be aware that your dog could get into their medication and be harmed so it’s best to ask them to keep it secured.
Candles & Oils
Dogs can easily tip candles over or venture too close to the flames. Even potpourri oils are dangerous when licked from the source or off their coats. Place these high or avoid altogether. Consider using plug-in room scent products as an alternative.
Lack of Attention
The holidays are a busy time. Remember that your dog or cat prefers regular mealtimes, walks, and your love and attention. Take the time to give her much-needed playtime. Try to maintain your normal schedule and routine as much as possible to help ease the stress and anxiety changes can have on pets.
If you need further assistance with keeping your beloved canine safe this holiday season, please don’t hesitate to contact me. It would be my pleasure to help.