The holidays can be a magical time for people, but special considerations need to be made for pets. There are some important things that dog owners need to be aware of about the hazards that the holiday season can bring for the family dog. While it can be a busy season with lots of last minute preparations to be made, it is all too easy to forget about Fido, or to leave potentially hazardous items lying around the house, and in his reach. Certain gifts, whether wrapped, or unwrapped are things that dogs, especially puppies may be curious about. Since they learn by taking things into their mouths and sometimes chewing on them, or worse yet, swallowing them, this is something to think about before you get too preoccupied with the events of the season. We have some tips that can help you to make the holiday season just as enjoyable for your dogs while taking the additional measures that are necessary for ensuring his well being.
Here are 20 dog safety tips for the holidays that we hope you will find useful:
1. Keep Christmas lights out of reach
Dogs are notorious chewers and the beautiful lights that will adorn your Christmas tree may be too much for him to resist. Most light sets have glass bulbs. If your dog chews on them, he can injure himself by breaking the tiny glass bulbs and chewing them into shards that could make cuts in his mouth, tongue, throat, and worst of all, internal organs. The best thing that you can do is to place some type of barrier between the tree and your dog so he doesn’t have direct access to it. Glass balls are another hazard as well as smaller ornaments and their hangers which may be easy to swallow. They not only present a choking hazard, but they can also be ingested and cause blockages or internal bleeding so, don’t leave your dog alone with the family Christmas tree particularly in the overnight hours.
2. Protect extension cords and keep them out of reach
With all of the additional lighting that is taking place throughout the home, there are bound to be a few extra extension cords lying around. This presents a danger for your dog and for the entire family. There have been many incidents where homes have burned to the ground because a family pet has chewed an electrical cord during the overnight hours. In addition to the high risk of starting a house fire, there is the threat of electrocution. The solution to the problem is to purchase some type of chew proof covering for the cords which could include PVC or other similar materials. If you have no other recourse, you could place a heavy item in front of the electrical outlet and run the cord in the back of it so your pet doesn’t have access to it. It’s an even better idea to unplug all electrical cords when you’re not in the room to supervise. Roll them up and put them out of sight if your dog is going to be in the area unsupervised.
3. Hide holiday dinner scraps
There is no better diet for your dog than a healthy canine formulation. Many of the foods that humans enjoy can actually be toxic for dogs, so it’s best to keep all table scraps away from them. Garlic and onions are a few examples of foods that can cause damage to your pet’s health. While they’re good for people, animals who have a steady diet of foods that contain them can develop internal organ failure and eventually die from it. It’s always a good idea to remove all scraps from within reach of your pet before leaving him alone in a room. It only takes a few moments for your pet to rummage through a garbage can, or jump up on a counter top and eat the scraps that could easily make him sick.
4. Keep candy covered up at all times
There is usually a lot of candy around the house during the holidays. This includes chocolates and baked goods that contain chocolate, including fudge and other confections. Not everyone knows that chocolate contains compounds that are toxic to dogs. There have been many instances where children who do not know any better have shared their candy with the family dog in an attempt to be nice. While in many of these situations, no real harm is done, but there have been multiple reported cases of dogs becoming very ill because of eating chocolate, and requiring medical intervention. In order to keep your pet healthy and safe during the holiday season, inform everybody that is at your house, including the little ones that feeding the dog candy that contains chocolate is a definite no. In fact, any confection that contains high amounts of sugar is unhealthy for your pet.
5. Cover the Christmas tree stand
Many Christmas tree stands come with a bowl like receptacle that allows you to water the tree and keep it fresh. If you use an artificial tree, then it’s not a big deal. If you enjoy the smell of a freshly cut pine tree that will need watering, read on. Some people add a type of tree preservative to keep the needles fresh for longer. These can be toxic to animals. The best course of action is to forego the tree preservative, but if you do use it, make sure that there is a secure cover around the tree stand or your pet is likely to lap up all of the water when he gets thirsty.
6. Keep wrap and trim scraps picked up
Dogs, especially puppies will be interested in everything that you’re doing during the holiday season. if you accidentally drop a bow, the roll of scotch tape, ribbon or paper scraps, the dog is apt to pounce on it. They love to chew so this is going to be the first thing that they do with the wrapping scraps that fall to the floor. Dogs are notorious for hiding under the table to scoop up whatever you might drop. These scraps can present a choking hazard for your put, so in order to keep him as safe as possible, be careful to pick up all wrapping scraps that fall to the ground. You should also keep them put up out of your dog’s reach .If you leave the room and the bows and ribbon are on the floor, he may help himself and present the need for you to take him to the vet for x-rays or worse yet, a surgical procedure to remove whatever it was that he has swallowed.
7. Keep the bones covered up
Another problem that dog owners have experienced around the holiday season is their pets sustaining injuries from chewing on the bones left over from a holiday meal. After everyone has filled up on Turkey, it’s harder to move around and quite a few people take a nap. Leaving the carcass out can result in tragedy for your pet. Turkeys contain bones that are very sharp or can easily splinter when they are chewed by a dog. If you are not planning to dispose of the bones immediately, then keep them out of your dog’s reach. Be aware that the smell of the turkey may be too much temptation for him to resist. Some dogs have jumped up on tables and counters to wrap their tongues around a big juicy turkey carcass or leg bone. When you dispose of the bones, wrap them securely in a bag, and preferably, take the bag out to the garbage can. Make certain that the lid is secured so your dog can’t rummage through the trash and get a hold of these dangerous scraps.
8. Avoid Holly and Mistletoe
Holly is a toxic plant and if your dog ingest it, he could experience vomiting, diarrhea and nausea. Mistletoe is also poisonous to pets. When eaten, it can cause your pets digestive problems and also cardiovascular issues. When ingested in larger quantities, it could even be fatal. It’s best not to even take the chance by having it in your home around the holidays. Dog owners should cosider an artificial alternative to these plants, to keep your pet safe from harm, or possibly going with different options that are non-toxic.
9. Avoid tinsel on the tree
Tinsel is another hazardous material for both dogs and cats. While it may seem harmless, there is a huge potential for harm to your pet. The lovely icicles that hang from the boughs of Christmas trees has a tendency to move about with as little as the breeze that is caused by walking by. When it falls to the ground, your pet could have access and end up chewing on the fallen strands. There are a few different dangers to your pet from tinsel. One is that the strands present a choking or gagging hazard. Another is that if your pet swallows the tinsel, it could cause an obstruction in a variety of different areas of the digestive tract. The symptoms are intense vomiting followed by dehydration and the need for emergency medical attention. It wouldn’t be a lot of fun to pay a huge vet bill just before Christmas, so forego the tinsel and go with something less dangerous for Fido.
10. Lighted candles need attention
Another popular decoration during the holidays are lighted candles. While these may seem to be a safe bet for pets, you should never leave lighted candles unattended with your pet i the room. If you do, you run the risk of your pet getting curious about the warm glowing flame, and knocking them over. This could result in your pet being burned or even a house fire. When using candles, always choose appropriate candle holders that are placed on a hard, even and stable surface and remember to put them out when you leave the room. It only takes a moment for tragedy to strike.
11. Care with alcoholic beverages
If there will be alcoholic beverages at your holiday gatherings, it’s really important to make sure that they are kept out of the reach of your dog as well as other pets. It’s a common scenario for people to get a little tipsy, then leave a cocktail or beer unattended on the floor or other low area. Pets don’t realize that these concoctions are very unhealthy for them, and may ingest the drink. When dogs drink alcohol, they are at risk for developing weakness, inability to stand or walk, they may go into a coma or even die from respiratory failure. It’s really important to set house rules so your guests know that there is absolutely no sharing alcohol with the dog.
12. Guests and medications
People often have house guests over for the holidays. People who are not used to having pets around may not be careful with their medications. If meds are left out, there is a chance that your dog could get access to them. Let house guests know that they need to keep all medications up and out of reach of your furry friends. They should be kept up in a higher location, and preferably behind closed or even locked doors to keep your pet safe when company comes for the holidays.
13. Keep a safe room for your pets
Some holiday parties can get a little wild. If your pet is a bit on the skittish side, this could present a few problems for him. It’s always a good idea to have a safe room where your pet can go to get away from the hustle, bustle and noise. Too much racket or activity can give your dog a case of bad nerves. This is especially true if your house is going to be filled with strangers who are unfamiliar to your pet. Make sure that he has a place to go where nobody can bother him. Keep a dish of water and food in his place so he can stay hydrated and nourished. Let house guests know that this is his area so they won’t spill into the location.
14. Pick up New Years’ debris
If you are a family that is into going all out for New Years, with poppers and streamers, then you may have a little extra work. The confetti and other debris that comes from the poppers could be dangerous for your pets. While the noise could upset your furry friend, there is another danger. They could ingest the leftover confetti that falls to the ground and develop an intestinal blockage, or possibly even choke if it becomes lodged in the throat. Keep these activities in one area of the home, and have someone designated to clean up the debris so your dog does not have access to the fallout. This will help to keep him safer during your New Years’ celebrations.
15. Poinsettias are hazardous for dogs
Poinsettias are a traditional plant around the Christmas holidays, but the leaves are highly toxic to pets and children. It’s best not to have them around at all, but if you do, make sure that the plant is kept in a place that is well out of the reach of your pet. This also goes for any leaves that may shed off of the plant. If you notice that they are falling, keep them picked up, because if your pet ingests them he could become seriously ill and may need to see the local vet. The same is true for any small children. Keep these potentially harmful plants away from children as well as pets.
16. Avoid common Christmas morning hazards
When Christmas morning arrives, family gathers to unwrap gifts. It’s fairly common for the floor to become littered with torn pieces of gift wrap, bows, ribbon and string. These must be picked up and disposed of right away so your pet won’t be able to have access to them. Dogs love to chew and swallow and if he gets into the carnage that is left over, he could swallow paper or string and develop intestinal problems as a result. Don’t leave the discarded wrappings on the floor because you’re busy with other things. Put them in the trash and then keep the trash well out of your pup’s reach. Dogs are inquisitive and they’ll want to find out what all the fuss with the wrappings are about. They’ll pull these items out of the trash if they get the opportunity. It’s your job to ensure that it is kept in a safe place. The best idea is to take it directly to the outside trash receptacle and be done with it.
17. Batteries are another hazard
We all know that one of the hottest commodities of the gift giving season is batteries. They power the devices that we give as gifts, and they are frequently left lying around the house during the holiday season. If your pet finds a battery on the floor, he is likely to chew on it. This could result in severe burns to the mouth, throat and digestive tract. Always keep batteries up and away from pets. If you have house guests, make sure that they know that this is a house rule that is set to keep your pet from harm during the holidays.
18. Watch the baked goods
The holiday season usually means that there is going to be a host of different baked goods in the house. There are some of your favorite holiday treats that can be dangerous for your pets so it’s important to keep them well out of your dog’s reach. Cookies and cakes that contain macadamia nuts are one of them. Macadamia nuts are highly toxic to dogs. they are commonly found in fruitcakes and cookies. While ingesting small amounts may not be a big issue, larger quantities can cause your pet to become seriously ill, or even die. On the same note, yeast dough is another danger. The yeast in the dough will continue to rise and if your pet ingests any amount of dough that has not been baked, it could cause serious digestive issues that would require a trip to the vet. Inform all house guests that holiday baked goods are not safe for your pet and that they need to keep them out of his reach. Also let them know that it’s not okay to give him bites of what they’re eating because they won’t be doing him a favor.
19. Dog appropriate gifts
If you decide to give your pup a few special gifts for Christmas, it’s really important to choose the right ones. Some of the more popular pet toys come with hidden dangers that dog owners may not be aware of. For example, rawhide chew bones are not as dog appropriate as everyone once thought. After they’ve been chewed on for a while, the materials can easily be torn off and swallowed. The material is basically leather that has been treated with chemicals which in themselves could be toxic when ingested. They are also very difficult for your pet to digest and larger pieces could create a blockage in the intestines. Small balls could present a choking hazard and some dog toys come with warning notices because they have caused harm to pets, so do a little research to find the most appropriate and safe gifts for your doggie this holiday season.
20. Don’t ignore your dog during the holidays
This is the last, but not the least of the tips to keep your pet safe this holiday season. It’s a busy time for everyone and while you’re rushing around trying to ensure that everything gets checked off of your to do list, Fido will still need your attention. Dogs often get neglected during the holidays when the house is filled with guests and the owners are busy making preparations. Your dog may feel the extra energy in the house and this could make him very uncomfortable. Remember to take some time out to spend with your pup. Reassure him that everything is okay, and don’t forget to check his food and water dish. You’re going to be busy, so plan ahead and include Fido in your list of things to do.