Though the holidays are a time to relax, celebrate, eat, and open gifts, it’s also a time you need to be an extra careful dog owner. Our dogs are part of the family and you certainly don’t want to exclude them from the festivities, but if you’re not careful and don’t plan ahead, they may ruin some of those good times!
The top 3 most common holiday hazards involve the food, the decorations, and the company. The rest of the problems may result from ruining their psyche...by not including them in the fun!
Food: We all eat too much during the holiday season, but the food dangers we need to be most cautious of include the wrappers small treats are presented in, bones which can lodge in the throat and cause choking, and toxins in holiday staples like chocolate, walnuts, and raisins. Even if the food itself isn’t dangerous, the volume certainly can be, so it’s best to play it safe and keep the holiday snacks far away from dogs.
Obesity is also a major concern with our family pets with over 40% of our dogs overweight. And you guessed it, it is a lot easier to put the weight on than it is to take it off! Preventing a problem is much easier (and cheaper) than treating it.
Decor: So, what’s the issue with the tree and decorations? Let’s start with the lights. Many dogs like to chew on exposed wires, to them, it might as well be a new toy. It is very important to cover up any exposed wires and to keep them high enough out of reach. Another solution (my favorite) is to find Christmas tree lights which run on a few D or 9-volt batteries instead of on household current. Biting into 120 volts is no fun!
Other “tree” hazards are tinsel and the ornaments, which, looking like tennis balls and other toys, are a prime target for any dog who loves to retrieve balls. I would suggest spraying the balls with some sort of deterrent or hanging them high out of your pet’s reach.
Holiday candles, like Chanukah candles, should never be unattended. A great way to keep pets away from the tree and ornaments is to surround it in an exercise-type pen, place chicken wire around it or even lay commercial grade double sided tape around the tree. Many holiday plants, beyond the tree, are also potential toxins. Keep the mistletoe, holly, and poinsettia out of your dog’s reach.
People: Having a lot of company is out of the cards this year anyway, but if anyone in your bubble is planning to stop by, it may be very stressful for your dog(s). If you don’t think they can handle the excitement, you may want to confine them to a quieter room. Make sure their Fi Collar is appropriately charged and have proper identification tags on just in case they seize the opportunity to bolt through an open door.
Even with the best planning and most conscientious care, accidents do happen. Make sure you keep your veterinarian’s number handy as well as your local 24 hour emergency facility just in case. Now that you know how to have a safe and enjoyable holiday season for your pets, I wish you a Happy Holiday season to you and to your two and four legged family members!