Holiday Safety Tips for Your Pup

With the crisp chill of winter in the air and Christmas carols on the radio, the holidays are upon us - and with them the need to keep a close eye on our fur babies.  Changes in routine, human foods and decorations are just a few of the things which can lead to your pup falling ill or getting hurt. Fido should be able to enjoy the holidays with just as much cheer and contentment as the rest of the family - so keep these few tips in mind to keep your furry friend safe.

Oh Tannenbaum

One of the holiday staple decorations is, of course, the Christmas tree.  With its prominent placement in your home, your pooch is left to combat against the dangers that it poses.  Here are some helpful hints:

  1. Make sure to secure your tree, perhaps in the corner of the room, to prevent the likelihood of your playful pup knocking it over.

  2. Keep an eye on the water at the base of your tree, as it may contain fertilizers or bacteria.  Allowing your dog to drink it may cause gastrointestinal issues.

  3. Keep ornaments and string lights off the bottom branches to stop your pup from grabbing at them and knocking them off.  String lights may give your dog a nasty shock that may even be life-threatening, while ornaments can break and cut his or her mouth, esophagus or paws.

  4. Avoid tinsel if possible.  Tinsel may look like a tasty treat for Fido but can obstruct the intestinal tract and even lead to needing surgery.  

  5. Most importantly, for the safety of all family members – human and furry alike – never leave your tree lights on while you are not home or while you are sleeping.

Other Poisonous Perpetrators

Christmas trees aren’t the only holiday plants that can harm your pup.  When eaten, mistletoe can cause gastrointestinal problems and cardiovascular issues.  Likewise, holly can lead to nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Also, poinsettias can be irritating to a dog’s mouth and stomach, sometimes causing vomiting.  Perhaps the best idea if you have a four-legged friend in your home is to restrict your holiday flora to the artificial variety.

The most common of holiday household items are bound to intrigue a curious canine and also are liable to end up in your pups mouth - or worse - belly.  Random items such as ribbons, batteries, potpourri, ornament hooks, loose bits from toys and pine needles can all block your pet’s intestinal tract and result in serious injury.  Be cautious of what you leave laying around the house that may look like a tasty treat.

Food, Glorious Food!

What would the holidays be without food - lots and lots of delightfully delicious food?!?  However, as we all know, you should avoid giving your dog certain “human” foods to keep them from having any kind of reaction or getting seriously ill.  Problem foods such as chocolate, alcohol and anything flavored with xylitol are the most dangerous, even deadly to dogs.

We also strongly recommend asking your guests not to feed your pets from the table.  This will ensure that fatty or spicy foods, turkey bones, grapes and any other foods which are dangerous to your pet’s health don’t make it into their mouths.  It is also a good idea to feed your pup before you and your guests have dinner to lessen the chance they try to beg at the table. You can also use the “place” command during dinner to keep your pooch at bay.  Check out our article on Counter Surfing for more tips and tricks on using “place.”

More is Not Always Merrier for Fido

Remember that while you might love the holiday social scene and being surrounded by family and friends, you pup might not be so open to such merriment.  A crowded home filled with chatter might be overwhelming for your pooch. Small children may be irritating to your dog, especially if he/she is older. Loud noises such as champagne popping or fireworks on New Year's Eve can also upset or frighten your pooch.  They might try to hide or even run away if they are stressed enough. It is best to give your fur baby a safe and quiet place away from the hustle and bustle where they can relax.

Each one of us knows our best furry friends better than anyone and it is up to us to anticipate how much holiday cheer they can handle.  Arranging a pet sitter or overnight boarding might be the best option to keep your pup safe, calm and happy. If this is the best option for you and your pup, as always, remember to book well in advance as kennels can fill up quickly for the holidays.  

So while you are decorating, cooking or celebrating this holiday season, remember to give your dog’s welfare some careful consideration.  Keep them safe and happy so they can wear that Santa hat and smile for next year’s Christmas card!