Everybody is looking forward to the holiday season and Christmas. Pet parents will be spoiling their dogs with treats, toys, vacations and ensure a great time for the whole family. But we must also remember how important it is to keep our dogs safe during the holidays, and keep all the hazards of Christmas partying in mind.
Samantha has previously discussed all the ways to keep your canines safe and happy during Halloween celebrations and what type of dog hazards to avoid on Thanksgiving. With more holidays rapidly approaching, it's necessary we talk about keeping our pets safe on Christmas.
Take steps to make sure you and your dog enjoy the holiday season without injury or illness. Keep common dog-related hazards in mind when buying holiday decorations and while putting up those decorations. It only takes a little fore-thought to insure Christmas is enjoyed by every member of the family, including the furry, four-legged family members.
How to Make Sure Your Dog is Safe During the Holidays
Decorate the Christmas tree with unbreakable ornaments. Dogs with long, happy tails can shatter low-hanging breakable ornaments. If you are not there to clean up the ornament right away, the sharp shards can cut paws and noses.
Some dogs will even try tasting the ornament pieces, resulting in injuries to his mouth or digestive tract. Curious, playful dogs may think the ornaments are fun new dog toys that can be taken off the tree for play time. One crunch can cause painful injuries.
Treasured, fragile ornaments with sentimental value can still be hung on the tree if they are hung out of the dog’s reach. Put them up high and hang unbreakable ornaments down low.
Use a glittery garland to brighten the tree with a tinsel-look. Do not use the thin strips of tree tinsel anywhere on the tree. It is extremely hazardous for dogs. Even a few pieces that fall off the tree could be gobbled up by a curious dog who thinks it might be a tasty treat.
If your dog eats those, the thin strips may pass through without harm but they can cause serious problems in your dog’s digestive tract. Shiny garlands are much less likely to become a problem but small pieces could still break off. Dog parents with dogs that tend to grab up anything that falls to the floor should probably leave those off the tree, too.
3Tree Light Cord Safety
Set the Christmas tree up right in front of the wall outlet and make sure the Christmas tree light cord goes directly from the tree to the outlet. Do not let the cord drape across the floor. A curious puppy may like the feel of the cord in his mouth and bite down on it.
Older dogs that aren’t particularly interested in the light cord may pick it up accidentally along with one of their favorite dog toys. They could bite down on it or run off with it, pulling the tree right over in the process.
Leave the candy canes, strung popcorn or other edible ornaments off the tree entirely. Even if they are hung high up on the tree, the dog could try to reach them. Often times, these edible ornaments are made to look especially attractive, and dogs love the looks of these things.
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The biggest problem is that your dog will be focused on getting those “treats” off the treats and consuming them. It possible that your pooch could easily jump up to grab the edible decorations then eat them, wrapper and all, which will cause serious health issues. The tree can also get knocked over when the dog jumps up to get a tasty decoration.
5Christmas Tree Water
Drape a heavy Christmas tree skirt around the base of the tree if you are putting up a live tree. The tree skirt will help keep the dog out of the tree water. This will mean filling the tree stand less often, making it less likely for the tree to dry out too quickly. Do not use toxic tree preservatives in the tree water.
Research has actually shown that there is no need to add anything to the tree water to help preserve a cut Christmas tree. Just make a fresh cut on the trunk base, use a stand that will hold about 1 gallon of water and keep it full. There's no need to go especially crazy with the tree and thus you can avoid potentially putting your dogs in danger.
6Stockings Hung with Care
Obviously, there's no Christmas celebration with the traditional stockings for most parents in America. If you're planning to use stockings this year, hang these Christmas decorations out of your dog’s reach. This is especially important if the stockings will be loaded with goodies like chocolate candy a day or two before Christmas day.
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It's best if you hang such Christmas decorations up high and secured so that they don't easily fall off. Just to be extra safe, do not put candy in the stockings or wait until the last minute and keep the dog out of the room until the stuffed stockings are discovered and emptied by the recipient. Remember how dangerous chocolate is for dogs.
7Plates of Goodies
Do not leave dishes or plates of tasty Christmas treats for humans (and even those for dogs) out where your pets can reach them. Wait until just before guests arrive to set them out and make sure the table is too high for the dog to easily reach. Remember that for some dogs even a “safe height” is not high enough.
We all know that dogs can be little Houdini’s when it comes to finding a way to eat the source of that delectable smell. When you have a resourceful little Houdini, play it extra safe. If possible, do not set out chocolate candies at all. There are lots of other sweet options that, while still shouldn’t be eaten by dogs, are much safer for them than chocolates.
Place decorative Christmas plants like poinsettias, mistletoe or holly well up out of the dog’s reach. Poinsettias and holly are only mildly toxic to dogs but take precautions to reduce the risk of exposure or ingestion anyway. The berries, leaves and sap can cause mouth and throat irritation as well as gastrointestinal problems.
It's best if you can keep all such decorations out of reach and pick up fallen leaves and berries right away, too. Mistletoe is highly toxic. A few symptoms of mistletoe ingestion are cardiovascular collapse, gastrointestinal problems and erratic behavior. If you must have mistletoe in the house for the holidays, hang it very high and fasten it securely.
Do not put Christmas gifts that may contain food under the tree. If you receive a gift through the mail, keep it up out of reach until Christmas morning or open it right away to see what’s inside. When a gift arrives that you do not think would contain food, give it the sniff test before leaving it beneath the tree just to be sure.
Try holding your gift down or set it on the floor and let your dog check it out, see how he reacts. If he quickly loses interest, it is a fairly safe bet that it does not contain food. When he immediately tries to open the gift, paws at it or even just seems oddly preoccupied by the gift, either open it to see if there is food in it or put it in a cupboard or closet for safe keeping.
10Christmas Dog Outfits
Make sure new doggy Christmas outfits are the right size and fit properly. Check the old outfits, too, if your dog has put on or lost weight. Improperly fitting dog clothes can restrict breathing and movement. The neck opening of your dog's costume should be loose enough to comfortably slide two fingers held vertically between the dog’s neck and the garment or collar.
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Remember that the “sleeves” of your pooch's Christmas clothes should also be loose enough to fit your fingers in between the dog’s leg and the fabric. Openings that are too tight will restrict movement and can interfere with circulation. The outfit should be designed to allow the dog to go potty without soiling it or it should be taken off when he goes outside to take care of business.
11Dogs in the Kitchen
Keep the dog out of the kitchen while cooking Christmas dinner. An oven door left open while you are checking on the food, especially if you turn your back for a minute, could result in burns. Your dog may put his nose or mouth on the hot oven door or even jump up on it in excitement, causing burns to his nose, mouth or paws.
Dogs are careless, and yours might also get underfoot in the midst of all those wonderful holiday food smells, causing you to trip and fall or step on him. If you happen to be carrying a hot, heavy pan of food or sharp knife at the time, the injuries could be quite severe for you, the dog and anyone else who happens to be nearby at the time.
After you ensure safety of your dogs, kids and yourself during the Christmas celebrations, make sure you still have a good time together: