It is the most wonderful time of the year! You’ve decked the halls, wrapped presents, and shopped till you dropped. However, have you done everything to protect your dog from potential holiday hazards? Given the demands of the season, it is easy to understand why, busy pet parents can overlook everyday hazards; the holiday season can be very hectic. To make sure the holidays are happy and safe for everyone, including your pets, follow these simple prevention tips:
- If you have a live tree, make tree water, which can harbor dangerous bacteria and chemicals, a no-drinking zone by covering the tree stand reservoir with a tree skirt. Please don't forget to pick up fallen pine needles, which can injure your dog’s intestines if eaten. Moreover, don't forget to tape down or cover electrical cords to prevent shocks, burns, and other serious injuries.
- Consider skipping tinsel altogether. Although it is a classic holiday decoration, it has always been a no-no for our furry companions. If swallowed, it can cause intestinal blockages and tears, which often requires surgery.
- Keep your pets away from wrapped gifts as well as packing supplies and small toys. Eating string, glue, staples, ribbon, plastic, wrapping paper, etc. can lead to choking and intestinal blockages. Also, keep in mind that some wrapped gifts may contain dangerous edible items, such as dark chocolate or macadamia nuts. To prevent this from happening to you, ask the gift giver whether the package contains food items before placing it under the Christmas tree.
- Be aware that many holiday foods such as fatty meat, onions, some nuts, gravy, poultry skin, dough, raisins, coffee, bones, chocolate, artificial sweeteners, and alcohol can cause illnesses ranging from vomiting and diarrhea to pancreatitis and other toxic reactions.
- Place candles and candle holders away from your dog’s reach, including his/her long tail, so he cannot knock them over, and don't forget to extinguish all candles before going to bed or leaving the house. Consider the flame-less variety as a replacement option.
- Some of the most popular symbols of the holidays are toxic to pets and can cause symptoms ranging from gastrointestinal irritation and diarrhea to cardiac problems, even death. Plants to avoid include Christmas cactus, holly, lilies, mistletoe, poinsettia, hemlock, and ivy. Consider replacing them with the artificial variety, but if you cannot completely ban this kind of plants, at least, keep them from your pet’s reach, and immediately pick up and throw out fallen leaves, stems, and berries.
- Since it is not an easy task to keep an eye on every one of your guests at the same time, feel free to ask your guests to refrain from feeding people food to your dog. Aside from encouraging begging, feeding your dog rich holiday table scraps can result in severe illness, including pancreatitis. If you are throwing a party, consider creating a quiet zone for your furry companion away from all the action. If you want your dog at the festivities, provide a limited number of dog treats for guests to give your dog.
- Holiday activities can leave you distracted, so be sure to close and lock doors and gates after guests arrive or leave. Better yet, place your dog in his crate or a quiet room with the door closed while guests come and go. Be sure your dog is wearing his collar and ID tag, and if your dog is micro-chipped, ensure that the chip is registered and confirm that your address and phone number are up-to-date.
- Busy and erratic holiday schedules, steady streams of strangers, and even changes to your home like rearranging furniture to accommodate a Christmas tree can stress out even the most mellow of dogs. Limit stress by maintaining your dog’s regular exercise and feeding schedules. Give him/her a nice, long walk or extended play session just before guests arrive or before you go out for the evening. Provide a quiet spot where your fur baby can retreat to.
Wishing you and all of your family members a safe and Happy Holiday Season!
Piper is the author of several non-fiction books, and recently added five historical fiction novels to her ever-expanding collection of published writings, In the Shadow of Her Majesty, The Country Girl Empress, A Life in the Shadow of the Crown, The Perpetual Traveler, and Excerpts from the Imperial Diary. When she isn't busy typing on her computer, she can be found chasing after her furry children or holding on tightly to a good cup of coffee. Follow her on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Goodreads.
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