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Good food, presents, and lovely music! The holidays are a wonderful time of year for everyone, including your dog and cat. However, there are aspects of this season that can be dangerous to your pets. From Christmas trees to cold weather, let’s take a look at some important dog safety tips to keep in mind during the holidays.
Christmas Decorations Pose a Hazard
Dogs can be just as attracted to the bright, colorful decorations you put on the Christmas tree as cats. Make sure to hang tinsel, garland, and ornaments up high on the tree where your pet can’t reach. You might even want to use a smaller tree and put it up on a pedestal if your dog just doesn’t want to leave your decorations alone.
Why do you want to keep your pet from nibbling on parts of the Christmas tree? Well, almost all of it is bad for your furry friend!
- Tinsel can cause a bowel obstruction and even cut your pet’s intestines if made from a thicker material.
- Ornaments also cause bowel obstructions. Fragile glass globes can break if they fall and cut your pet’s feet.
- Christmas lights are electrical hazards, especially for teething puppies looking for something to chew on.
- Pine needles from live trees puncture the intestines if swallowed.
- Christmas trees can also fall onto your pets and hurt them if they pull on the tree or even try to climb it.
- Additives for Christmas tree water may be poisonous if your pets drink it.
- Lit candles can burn pets and some chew on the wax, which can cause an intestinal blockage in large quantities.
- Liquid potpourri is a chemical that may burn or damage your pet’s mouth and nose.
- Dried potpourri may damage or cut your pet’s digestive tract if eaten.
Dangers of Holiday Plants
It seems like dogs and cats are inevitably drawn to the live plants you put on display in your home. This is thanks to an instinct to seek out roughage for their diet. They like to chew and eat the leaves and flowers, and some pets may also attempt to eat leaves when they aren’t feeling well. Unfortunately, many holiday plants are poisonous. When pets eat or nibble on these leaves it could mean a trip to the veterinarian.
If you have a dog, be sure to keep such plants out of reach. You might want to put the pots up on a table or tall, sturdy shelf that the dog can’t knock over or jump on. Some toxic plants commonly seen around the holidays are:
It should also be noted that the leaves of the Christmas Cactus are very tough and fibrous, which can cause stomach and intestinal irritation. It may cause your pet to vomit or have diarrhea, but it’s not generally toxic.
The Temptation of Holiday Dinners
Yes, the dog will make those sad, soulful eyes and whine at you from under the dinner table. But, it’s vital that you don’t give in! The best dog safety tips for the holidays say avoid giving pets human food! Sneaking treats to your pets during the holidays can be more harmful than usual. Those dishes on your table are very rich in fat and sugar. Plus, they likely contain ingredients that are toxic to pets, such as:
If you’re having a turkey for Christmas dinner do not feed your dog any of the bones or skin. Bird bones form sharp splinters which lodge in the throat, stomach, and intestines. These perforations may require surgery to fix and both items can also cause pancreatitis in your dog.
Moderate to large amounts of bread and uncooked dough can also cause stomach upset and gas, which nobody wants to interrupt a celebration!
Dog Safety Tips for Helping Your Dog De-Stress
For some dogs, the holidays are a source of stress. First the house changes, then you put on loud music and start acting differently. Any visitors you have over for dinner or a holiday party are additional stressors that can get your pet barking, pacing, and panting with anxiety. If you are worried about your furry friend’s state of mind, there are a few ways to help your dog calm down:
Play Soft, Soothing Music: Low frequency, slow tempo music with a simple pattern is calming for your dog. There are even some doggy music CDs developed specifically for this purpose.
Sit With Your Pet: Take a break from the holiday preparations and party to sit with your pooch on the couch. Petting your dog’s fur can ease anxiety for the both of you.
Take a Walk: Sometimes, too much excitement makes dogs hyper and stressed. Give your dog a nice long walk before the holiday dinner to use up their excess energy.
Put the Dog in the Kennel: Put your pet up in his or her kennel or another room if you don’t have a dog cage. The kennel is your pet’s safe place away from all of the noise and activity of a party. Plus, if your pet doesn’t like a lot of attention, this gives him or her a place to hide.
Keeping Pets Warm Enough
The last, but not least of our dog safety tips is keeping your dog warm enough during the cold weather. While this doesn’t apply specifically to holiday celebrations, you’ll want to be aware of your pet’s comfort on chilly evenings. Bring him or her inside for the winter, or give your pet a cozy dog house with ample insulation and wind protection. When you take your dog out for walks, consider putting your pet into a dog coat with booties to protect from the ice and snow. It’s true that dogs are covered in fur, but many breeds lack the undercoat necessary to insulate their bodies properly. Plus, their ears, nose, and paws are exposed and can develop frostbite.
When your dog comes in from outside, take a few minutes to dry their coat and paws with a towel. Sometimes, snow and ice can get packed in between their paw pads, which is very uncomfortable and worsens the chances of frostbite. So, keep an eye on these sensitive areas.
If your dog is really anxious or tends to get into holiday trouble, such as destroying your Christmas tree, obedience training can be helpful. The ‘Training an Untrained Dog: Video Course’ takes you quickly and easily through several dog training tips and techniques to teach your dog to leave it, drop it, and go to his or her kennel when asked!