Keeping Your Dog Safe During the Holidays

‘Tis the season for celebrating and you’re sure to want your best friend to share in the festivities. But holiday treats and decorations also can pose hazards to your dog. When it comes to your pet, a little bit of care and preparation can keep the joy from turning into sorrow.

Christmas trees

Bringing the outdoors in – in this case in the form of a Christmas tree – can be quite a temptation for dogs.

  •  Make sure the tree is in a stable stand and, if possible, secure it to a wall to ensure it won’t topple over.

Needles from trees, wreaths and garland can be both toxic and very sharp, causing damage to the dog’s mouth, throat or stomach if ingested. Be sure to sweep up any fallen needles as soon as possible.The tree water in a stand can also cause problems if your dog decides to have a drink. It often contains fertilizers or preservatives; and stagnant water is the perfect breeding ground for all sorts of harmful bacteria. Try covering the stand with a tree skirt to keep Fido out.

  • Tinsel and lights brighten the tree but can be dangerous, especially to dogs that are prone to chewing. Tinsel can get caught in their digestive tracts and nibbling on wires can give them quite a jolt. Make sure the lights are unplugged when you’re not around to watch your pet.
  • Glass ornaments look like shiny tennis balls to your pet but can cause serious lacerations if he decides to chew on them. If you use glass ornaments, put them high on the tree, out of reach. And those sharp ornament hooks can become embedded in a dog’s mouth.
  • If you’re thinking about using holly to decorate the tree you may want to reconsider. If eaten, holly can cause nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.

Poisonous plants

Other plants used for decorating this time of year can be just as dangerous as holly.

Mistletoe and its berries can upset stomachs and cause irregular heart beats and even cardiac shock.

Poinsettias contain an irritating sap that can upset stomachs and cause blistering in the mouth.

Hibiscus and paper whites can cause upset stomachs and diarrhea.

Dangerous foods

We all know that feeding a dog human food is asking for trouble. The temptations are even greater at this time of year because of the abundance of spices, rich foods and sweets. Take precautions to keep your pet away from those treats – and out of the garbage.

  • Chocolate is especially dangerous. Ingesting chocolate can result in damage to nervous systems and urinary systems. Coffee and tea can cause similar problems.
  • Xylitol, which is used to sweeten many different types of gum candy, can be very harmful and lead to liver failure.
  • Grapes and raisins can cause acute kidney problems.
  • Nuts are generally not good for dogs, especially Macadamia nuts and walnuts.
  • In addition to keeping your dog away from plates of food, make sure it doesn’t get into the garbage. It could easily swallow a meat bone or fragments which can get lodged in the dog’s throat, stomach or intestinal tract causing obstructions or bleeding. The garbage also contains other hazards such as greasy aluminum foil, plastic wrap, string and ribbons.
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