The holiday season is such a busy time, and pet parents need to be especially diligent. There are many Christmas dangers for dogs that are specific to this time of year. As we're preparing to decorate our homes, cook our Christmas feasts, and travel to visit family and friends, we need to be wary of the dangers that may be facing our pets.
In case you missed it, last week I discussed why you should NEVER give pets as gifts.
This festive season can actually be a very strange for our pets. There new decorations being put all around our houses and our yard, we bring a tree in from outside, there are all kinds of weird smells around the house. Add a lot of holiday visitors, crazy schedules, and dangerous toxins to this mix and you have surely got a recipe for disaster.
It goes without saying that we need to pay special attention to our pets during the holiday season. Keeping their needs in mind while decorating, planning trips, and inviting people into our home is the least we can do for our furry family members. This week i decided to take a look at some of the most common Christmas dangers for dogs.
Dangerous Christmas decorations for dogs
Christmas ornaments and knick-knacks are usually very fragile. If broken, they may splinter or shatter into shards that could cause digestive issues if ingested or cut your dog's paws if he steps on them.
May people hang tinsel at Christmas time, which can look like an appetizing snack to your pet. If the tinsel blows slightly your dog will be attracted to the movement, and he may decide that it would make a good snack.
Artificial materials like this will not process through your pet's system and could end up causing blockages that will need to be surgically removed. The same goes for ribbons and bows, which are made out of the same type of material as tinsel.
Christmas is also a time known for it's beautiful light displays. If your dog is a chewer he may go after flashing lights or exposed cords. Be sure to properly secure all of your Christmas lights so your Fido cannot get to them. Burning candles can also cause harm to your dog, and they could also be knocked over and create a fire in your home.
Some toxic plants are also used as common Christmas decorations. Holly, mistletoe, and poinsettia plants can all be harmful to your pet. Ingesting just a small bit of these plants could cause skin irritation or digestive issues. A large amount be fatal. If you have a dog has a tendency to get into things he isn't supposed to, it may be best not to purchase these plants at all.
Dangerous Christmas foods for pets
Many common Christmas foods are not healthy for dogs. In fact, too much people food can be harmful to your pet no matter what it is. Make sure your guests are aware that your dog is not allowed to have any table food unless they ask first. It's nice to share part of your Christmas meal with your dog, but if everyone gives him a little taste he'll end up taking in way more calories than he should.
Chocolate is an obvious one. You also need to be aware of bake goods that may contain chocolate or any food with the artificial sweetener xylitol in it. Some baked goods, candies and chocolates have xylitol instead of sugar. This artificial sweetener is toxic to dogs. Sugar in general isn't good for your pet, so be sure to watch his sugar intake this time of year.
Many people eat turkey during their Christmas meal. You can share a little white meat with your pet, but never give him turkey bones. They could cause scratching or tearing of his throat, stomach or intestines. Raw dough and alcohol should also be kept out of reach of your pup.
If you have edible ornaments on your Christmas tree, be sure to keep them near the top. Likewise, if you are gifting someone with food, don't leave it wrapped under the tree. You may think you're dog can't smell it because it is in packaging and wrapped up, but he can. Keep all food gifts somewhere safe until the big day.
Dogs and Christmas tree dangers
Even if you think your dog is well-behaved, it's best to anchor your Christmas tree to the wall. Dogs are curious by nature, and the last thing you want is your dog getting pinned under your tree if it falls over on top of him.
Some dogs may be tempted to jump on the tree, but even mellow dogs who are just coming around for a sniff run the risk of tipping the Christmas tree over.
Certain people also put fertilizer into the tree water. Others add a liquid that helps the tree stay hydrated. If you add anything to your tree's water be mindful of what it says on the label. You should fashion a cover out of aluminum foil to keep your dog from getting at the tree water just to be safe.
If your dog is curious and tends to pull things off the tree, make sure all breakable ornaments, tinsel, garland and lights are not low enough where he can reach them. For some dog owners, this may mean they are only able to decorate the top of their tree, but it's better to be safe than sorry.
Other Christmas dangers for dogs to avoid
More batteries are ingested by dogs around the Christmas holiday than during any other time of the year. If the battery is chewed and punctured, it can cause heavy metal poisoning and chemical burns to your dogs mouth, throat and digestive tract. If a battery is swallowed whole it may cause an obstruction.
Many people like to wrap presents early and leave them under the tree. Presents can be dangerous to your pet depending on what is inside them. If there is anything in a gift that could be dangerous if your dog unwrapped it, it's better to leave it tucked away in the closet until Christmas morning.
Some dog owners prefer to leave their presents out under the tree and place a pet gate around the tree so their dog can't get into anything. It's really just a matter of preference.
You're sure to have a lot of friends and family members stop by to celebrate the holiday season. Be sure your dog is comfortable with guests before introducing him to new people. If he doesn't like new people, consider leaving him in a kennel or in a room with a pet gate while you have company.
Think about your pet's happiness too. He may like it when a couple of people visit your home, but having a crowd of people may be overwhelming. Giving your dog his own personal space instead of forcing him to mix in with the crowd may make him feel more comfortable and, in turn, happier. It's his Christmas too after all – you wouldn't want him to be unhappy.
Now it's your turn
Pet parents, do you have any more tips for others on Christmas hazards for dogs, or pets in general? Share your stories with us in the comments below so that we can all learn from the mistakes and keep our pets safe this holiday season.