Written by Amie Chapman
(first published on December 8, 2015)
The holiday season is a time to spend with family and friends. That often includes the four-legged ones. Unfortunately there are many harmful things associated with the holidays as well. The tips we are listing are for all dogs and puppies, not just service dogs or puppies in training.
“…as beautiful as Poinsettia plants are, they are also toxic if ingested. Keep them out of reach or consider fake ones.”
Lots of people like to decorate for the holidays but here are a few things to keep in mind if you are a pet owner. Before setting up a Christmas tree, think about where in your house to put it where you can both enjoy it and keep your dog/puppy safe. Ornaments can be very attractive to puppies or dogs, and not just cloth ones. Cloth and plastic ornaments can cause intestinal obstructions if ingested. Glass ornaments can cause lacerations in the GI tract if pieces are ingested, and yes dogs are crazy enough to chew glass ornaments. Tinsel can also be very attractive and is dangerous if ingested. Christmas light cords can also cause life threatening injuries if chewed. Dogs also like to drink out of the tree stand, so be very careful about putting additives to your tree’s water, as some can be toxic to dogs. If you have a young puppy or even an older dog that likes to grab things other than their toys, consider putting your tree in a room you can prevent your dog from entering. You can also set up a pen around the tree. Also as beautiful as Poinsettia plants are, they are also toxic if ingested. Keep them out of reach or consider fake ones.
Holiday food and treats
Many people love to bake yummy treats for the holidays, and they smell great to dogs as well as people. Make sure to keep your goodies out of reach of your puppy or dog, and remember, some things can be very hard to resist even to dogs who normally don’t take things from the counter. Baking items that are toxic to dogs are chocolate (the higher percent of cocoa the more dangerous it is, with baker’s chocolate being the most dangerous), raisins, and macadamia nuts. If you plan on gifting baked goods or boxed chocolate to friends and family as a wrapped gift, it would be a good idea to let them know not to place it under their tree and keep out of reach of their dogs if they have them.
“Have a quiet area where your dog can feel safe away from the group.”
Now, house guests may not seem like a possible safety hazard, but they can be. If you are having a party, or guests staying with you, they may not check with you first before giving your pet a treat. If your dog has a sensitive stomach or isn’t used to certain foods, this can be an issue. Guests coming and going can also lead to pets slipping out an open door or gate without being noticed right away. Make sure your guests know to be careful about not letting your dog out the door. If you are having a party and want to allow your guests to share treats with your dog, have a clearly labeled dog treat dish out with treats you know your dog’s stomach can handle and limit the amount your guests can feed so your dog doesn’t get too many. Eating too much food in a short period of time can cause a very uncomfortable tummy. Remember that having guests can also be very stressful for your puppy or dog, if they are not used to having visitors or large groups at their home. Have a quiet area where your dog can feel safe away from the group.
Travel can be very stressful for your pet whether they go with your or stay behind. If your puppy or dog is traveling with you make sure you bring along some comforts of home and their own food. A different food along with stress can lead to GI upset. Make sure you have current ID tags on your pet, and if your pet is microchipped, make sure it has been registered and the information is current. Most importantly, if your dog isn’t an accustomed traveler to remember they may behave differently in a place they are not familiar with so use good judgment about what activities you do with your dog. If you are leaving your dog behind, again make sure tags and microchip information is current and your pet sitter has a way to get in touch with you in case of an emergency.
Other helpful tips
“If you think your pet has ingested something toxic the best thing to do is call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control center at 1-888-426-4435.
Home or away, know where your closest emergency veterinary clinic is located and have the number handy. Most veterinary practices are closed on major holidays. If you think your pet has ingested something toxic the best thing to do is call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control center at 1-888-426-4435. They are open 24 hours a day and can answer the questions of if something is toxic or not and what treatment is required. It does cost $65, but very much worth it. You will be able to talk directly to a veterinarian and they have a database with almost every product at their fingertips.
Have a very happy and safe Holiday Season!