‘Tis the season to deck the halls for the holidays and prepare feasts for friends and family. If you have a dog, it’s important to decorate and host with care to keep your best friend safe until the table is cleared and the ribbons, lights and ornaments are packed away. Dogs and the holidays are a jolly, but potentially dangerous mix. Read on to learn how to protect your pet through the New Year:
The Christmas Tree
Your Christmas tree is safest in a corner where it is less likely to topple. If you can, set the tree behind a paneled dog gate. Put the dog in another room when you leave the house, and never leave him unsupervised around the tree when you are home.
Keep the tree lights and ornaments off the low branches because the twinkling and shimmering will draw his attention. Your dog can electrocute himself if he chews on the Christmas lights: he can also ingest or step on shards from broken glass ornaments.
Forego tinsel altogether, as it can cause dangerous intestinal blockages if ingested. Also, skip the edible decorations, such as popcorn or cranberry garland. Your dog will almost certainly sniff them out and attempt to eat them.
The Holiday Feast
Dogs are at increased risk of eating toxic foods during the holidays when treats are in abundance and people are rushed. Chocolate, treats sweetened with xylitol, raisins and grapes are particularly dangerous for dogs and should always be kept in high, closed cabinets your dog can’t reach.
Though it is natural to want to share with your dog at the holidays, don’t feed him scraps from your feast. Turkey and turkey skin can cause life-threatening pancreatitis, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. Also, rich sweets, heavy foods, and fatty gravies are difficult for dogs to digest and can cause painful gastric issues. Feed your dog the food he normally eats throughout the holidays.
Not all dogs are comfortable with big crowds and not all people are comfortable with dogs. Be sure you know how your best friend handles festivities and strangers, and ask guests who haven’t visited before if they are comfortable with dogs. If your dog gets skittish in groups or makes a guest anxious, it’s smart to separate him from the party with a dog gate or within his dog crate, if that puts him at ease. Make sure he has plenty of fresh water and his favorite dog toy to keep him busy and happy.
Holly, poinsettia, amaryllis, balsam, cedar, pine needles and mistletoe are toxic or dangerous to dogs. Keep holiday plants on the mantle or high shelves. Vacuum fallen pine needles from the Christmas tree frequently.
To celebrate Chanukah or bring a festive glow to a room, candles are often set alight around the holidays. Be sure to keep lit candles on high, stable surfaces out of reach of your dog’s nose, paw or wagging tail.
Dogs are naturally curious and will want to chew open those packages to see what’s inside. Keep the gifts out of his reach until it’s time to share. Someone may have sent edible treats that are delicious for you, but dangerous for your dog. Also, wrapping paper, ribbons and bows can block your dog’s digestive tract. If you’re wrapping a gift just for your dog, use minimal tape, no ribbons or bows, and wrap it loosely so he can easily nose it open.
Before you get too busy with the holiday bustle, take a few minutes to plan a safe season for your pet. Then enjoy a worry-free, wonderful time with your best friend in the weeks ahead.
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