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Holiday Safety Tips for Dog Owners

By: Alex Semancik

The holiday season is a time for getting together with friends and family, and pets are no exception. As someone who grew up with dogs, I know how fun it can be to enjoy the holidays with your four-legged friends. I also know that being a dog owner during the holiday season can be chaotic whether you’re hosting or traveling. But, with some simple planning and precautions, you can help eliminate your pet-related stress.

General Hosting Tips

Mind the weather! If you live in a cooler climate with cold winters keep your pet inside other than during bathroom breaks. Your dog may become overwhelmed with so many unfamiliar people over, but try to keep them in a separate room or distract them with plenty of toys to occupy them. Don’t forget to inform your visitors you have a pet!

Asking animal-loving guests to keep eccentric dogs distracted is a great solution for all parties involved. Pets that are shyer may need a separate room to escape the noise of the function. Stock this room with some water and a comfy place to hide.

For the New Year’s celebrations avoid party poppers that can alarm dogs, potentially cause them hearing damage, and produce waste they can possibly ingest. Be understanding that pets dislike fireworks. Provide skittish pets with a safe and secure environment before the fireworks start.

Ensure that all medications are out of reach from paws!

(Photo courtesy of Charlene Grace and Angel Coast Labradoodles)

In the Living Room

Believe it or not, many dog dangers are hiding in plain sight right in your living room. Live plants, including Christmas trees, should be set up with caution and care. If you have a tree in your living room, ensure it is securely anchored so it won’t topple over and harm your pet. Monitor how your dog reacts to the tree, if your pet chews on branches or ingests pine needles they may have severe intestinal issues. If your dog won’t stop bothering the tree, or if monitoring your tree seems like too much of a hassle, consider switching to a decorative faux tree.

When decorating your Christmas tree, ensure that all wires and ornaments are out of paws’ (or snouts’) reach. If a curious mouth bites the wrong wire your poor pet could be electrocuted, and it should go without saying that your dog ingesting shards of glass or plastic from ornaments is extremely harmful.

Pine trees can be manageable with the proper care and attention, but try to avoid ivy, holly, mistletoe, and poinsettias altogether. If an inquisitive canine ingests any of these four festive plants, they are likely to suffer from nausea, vomiting, and possibly worse. It is best to opt for fake plant decorations to avoid any unnecessary emergencies but still capture that jolly atmosphere.

Try not to leave lighted candles unattended. Your dog may burn itself or knock the candle over. To avoid pet injuries or a potential house fire, place candles on high, sturdy surfaces and use appropriate candle holders.

(Photo courtesy of Kim Glover and Oodles of Fluffy Doodles)

In the Kitchen

Food safety in a dog household is as paramount as ever around the holidays. The safest bet is to avoid giving your canine table scraps altogether. Keep your pet away from the table, ensure that garbage receptacles are properly sealed, and don’t leave any plates unattended.

Do not give your pet sweets of any kind. Chocolate, as you know is horrible for dogs to ingest but so are many other human treats. Citrus fruits, grapes and raisins, and fruit pits can be extremely harmful to your pet. The same goes for savory, especially garlic and onion.

When it comes to bones, opt for store-bought bones that are meant for dog consumption. Bones leftover from cooking or eating have the potential to splinter and damage your dog's digestive system.

(Photo courtesy of Sofia Stighäll and Kiras Labradoodles)

If You’re Travelling

Consider if you should take your pet with you. Air travel and long car rides can be very stressful for most pets. If you leave your dog at home when you travel, choose your pet sitter or boarding kennel wisely. Either way, your dog should always have a collar and tags with their name and your contact information on them, you never know what can happen.

Microchipping your dog can be critical for keeping track of your pet if you happen to lose them. WALA requires all the puppies produced by its members to be microchipped. If you choose to microchip your pet, you can guarantee they will never truly be lost. Make your owner information is updated. For tech savvy dog owners who want to take extra precautions, many companies make “SmartTags” that you can place on your dog’s collar during events or travel to track them with your phone or laptop.

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