Christmas isn’t too far off, and experienced pet owners know that this means a house full of potential pet hazards. If this is your first Christmas with your dog, don’t panic because we’ve got essential dog Christmas safety tips to help you make it through.
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 beloved canines.
This festive season can actually be very strange for our pets. There are new decorations being put all around our houses and our yard, we bring a tree in from outside, and 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 educating the people we invite into our home is the least we can do for our furry family members. Following these dog Christmas safety tips will keep Fido happy and healthy through the New Year!
39 Dog Christmas Safety Tips for Pet Owners
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Décor and Decorations
1. Avoid using candles
Use flameless LED candles instead. Lit candles can easily be knocked over by pets causing burns or fires.
2. Don’t use holly, poinsettia or mistletoe
These are all poisonous to your dog if ingested. It’s safest to stick with artificial plants instead!
3. Anchor your Christmas tree
Anchor your Christmas tree securely so it doesn’t fall on your pup while they are playing or running around the house.
4. Avoid silver icicle strands or tinsel
Dogs and cats are both attracted to playing with and eating it and it can cause vomiting and obstructions.
5. Get a faux tree
An artificial Christmas tree is healthier for your dog, because it doesn’t drop sharp needles that can be ingested. Real trees can also harbor pests, parasites and mites. If you have to have a real tree, make sure that you regularly clean up all stray needles from the floor and treat it for pests before bringing it indoors.
6. Avoid glass or breakable Christmas tree ornaments
If these ornaments fall or break, your dog can easily eat the pieces causing internal bleeding and organ damage. This is one of the most important dog safety tips that you can follow this holiday season.
7. Don’t decorate with edible decorations
Don’t decorate with edible decorations even if you’re placing them out of reach. Edible decorations like popcorn garlands, etc. can encourage dogs to jump and climb to get tasty snacks. Plus, if these decorations are threaded, the thread can cause internal complications when ingested and cause stomach upset in dogs.
8. Consider not decorating the bottom section of the tree
If you have a young dog or a dog unfamiliar with Christmas trees consider leaving the bottom section of the tree bare. This will prevent your dog from being enticed by easy to reach lights or decorations.
9. Consider blocking off your Christmas tree
If your dog shows a particular interest in your tree consider blocking it off by using a pet gate.
10. Don’t let your dog drink water out of the Christmas tree stand
The water in your Christmas tree stand is stagnant and it can contain bacteria or other “nasties” that will make your dog sick.
11. Keep wiring and extension cords out of reach
Playing pups can get tangled in wiring, but younger pets can also bite into wires or pull items off shelves causing shock electrocution, crushing, or even death. This isn't just one of the best dog Christmas safety tips, it could save your pet's life!
12. Keep wrapped gifts and wrapping paper out of reach
Wrapping paper can attract dogs and when eaten it can cause blockages, stomach upset, or even poisoning depending on the paper composition.
13. Don’t overwhelm your dog with festive decorations
Dogs are creatures of habit and too many decorations at once or too many loud and obnoxious decorations can put your dog on edge. If you like to have many decorations in your home, introduce them a little at a time.
RELATED: 22 Dos and Don'ts When Spending Christmas with Dogs
14. Keep chocolate out of reach
Chocolate is a popular stocking stuffer or gift over the holidays, but make sure to keep it out of reach of your pet at all times! Chocolate contains theobromine, which can cause organ damage or failure.
15. Keep alcoholic drinks out of reach
Alcohol and pets don’t mix, so keep all alcoholic drinks out of reach of your pets ALWAYS. This isn't just one of the best dog Christmas safety tips, it's a tip that you need to follow year round! In minimum quantities, alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, confusion, and labored breathing. In significant quantities, alcohol can cause death.
16. Don’t Give Table Scraps
A lot of the foods we eat at Christmas time are high in fat and can cause a condition called pancreatitis in pets, according to veterinarians. Pancreatitis is extremely uncomfortable and can be dangerous to your pet’s health. You should also skip those table scraps to avoid packing unhealthy weight on your dog!
17. Know what makes for a safe meal
If you enjoy making your dog a part of the Christmas meal just make sure that you feed them safe food – white meat without skin, dog-safe veggies, and plain rice is a great place to start.
Here on Top Dog Tips, we've got plenty of great and healthy homemade dog food recipes with videos and instructions on how to make them tasty and safe for your pet.
18. Don’t give your dog bones
Cooked bones are easily splintered and can cause dental damage and internal perforations or blockages. Never give your dog any household bones, stick with raw lamb marrow bones instead.
19. Keep an eye on that dough
This is one of the dog Christmas safety tips that most pet owners don't think about. If you’re going to be baking bread or baked goods, make sure to keep that dough out of reach. Dogs are easily tempted to eat dough, but when ingested it will expand in their stomach causing discomfort, bloating, or more serious complications.
20. Wash pans right away or put them completely out of reach
Pans (particularly those used for meat) are tempting and can invite your dog to jump up to lick them clean. This can cause burns to the mouth or more serious conditions if hot pans or hot fats from pans fall onto your dog.
RELATED: How To Include Your Dog In Christmas Celebration
21. Choose edible gifts wisely
When choosing treats and edible gifts for your dog know what you are buying. Buy treats that are made in reputable countries with healthy ingredients from companies that have not had recent recalls.
22. Know your dog’s habits when buying toys
When you choose toys for your dog know their playing habits. For example, if you have a heavy chewer, don’t choose a toy that they will tear apart and possibly swallow pieces of.
23. Stick with toys made for dogs
It can be tempting to buy kids toys for your dog, but one of the most important dog Christmas safety tips is to stick with toys that are made for dogs. Human toys can contain substances that are toxic to dogs, not designed for chewing or have pieces that can be pulled off and swallowed easily.
24. Don’t gift pets
As much as you love your dog, don’t assume someone else loves dogs as much or are able to financially commit to a dog at this point in their life. Pets never make good gifts!
25. Choose size appropriate toys
Make sure that the toys you pick up for your dog are appropriate for their size to avoid choking or dental damage due to toys that are too small or too large.
26. Research your gifts
Some pet products and toys on the market have serious flaws that can cause illness, physical damage or even death to your dog. Research all toys before buying them to make sure that what you buy is safe!
27. Keep an eye on dogs interacting with other pets
If you have multiple dogs be wary when giving gifts or special treats. Even dogs that love each other dearly can become territorial or aggressive over “special” items. It’s best to give both dogs the same items or to separate dogs when giving them items over the holidays.
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28. Educate your guests
When you hold a gathering in your home make sure everyone knows that you have a dog, so they can be prepared. Some guests may have allergies and need medication, others may have phobias and choose not to come, and some may choose not to bring young children with allergies.
29. If your dog is roaming around the house…
Be sure that everyone at your gathering is aware that your dog is roaming the house, so they know not to leave outside doors open. One of the easiest dog Christmas safety tips to follow. All you have to do is chat with your guest, which you're going to be doing anyway!
30. If people will be drinking heavily, isolate your dog
Drunk people lack the necessary judgment and ability to interact with animals. They can be loud and scary to your dog and they can get handsy and cross boundaries causing your dog to snap. If guests will be getting drunk, isolate your dog away from guests for everyone’s safety.
31. Know when to keep your dog isolated
If you are holding a gathering and your dog is afraid of strangers, has shown any signs of aggression in the past, is new to your home or does not do well with groups of people, keep your dog in an isolated room of the house. Make sure partygoers know not to go into this room.
32. Temper noise
If your dog doesn’t do well with loud noises, consider putting them into boarding on the night of your party. In lieu of boarding, you can also keep the noise level down or isolate your dog in a quiet room of the house.
33. Don’t serve dangerous party snacks
Undoubtedly someone will try to sneak a snack to your dog during the party. Keep your dog safe by making sure that all snacks served don’t contain toxic-to-dog ingredients.
34. Prepare for accidents
This is one of the easiest dog Christmas safety tips. If your dog urinates when they get excited, consider keeping them isolated or having them meet guests safely outdoors first. You may also want to put down some potty pads just for this occasion.
35. If other dogs will be present introduce them outdoors first
If other dogs will be at your gathering and your dog is not familiar with them, have them both meet outside first. Dogs can be territorial over their homes and their people, meeting on neutral territory first helps with a neutral introduction.
36. Keep older pets comfortable
A dog that was very sociable in their youth isn’t always as sociable in their senior years.
Older dogs are easily bothered, easily startled, easily overwhelmed, and sometimes experiencing pain; these things can contribute to snapping or uneasiness. If you have an older dog, isolate them to a safe and calm area of the home during your gathering.
37. Monitor entrances in poor weather
If there is snow or ice outside know that ice melting chemicals and salt can be tracked into the house on guest’s shoes. These chemicals are toxic to your dog if they are licked so have guests take off shoes to keep floors chemical free.
38. Be wary of children
If there will be children at your gathering, make sure that they are familiar with dogs and how to interact with them. Also, know how your dog interacts with children. If your dog has never met children before or the child has never interacted with dogs before, a party is not the best time for a first meeting. If this is the case isolate your dog because gatherings are overstimulating and children are easily left to their own devices.
39. Keep to your normal schedule as much as possible
This is one of the most important dog Christmas safety tips. Dogs thrive on schedule, so it’s important to maintain their regular feeding, walking, and sleeping schedule even during holiday gatherings. Deviation from schedule can cause changes in appetite, depression, anxiety, changes in bathroom habits, or health changes.
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