Christmas Safety Tips for Dogs
Dr. Joyce Ashamalla
Dr. Joyce Ashamalla is the managing partner at Hinsdale Animal Hospital with Kremer Veterinary Service, as well as a partner at CARE Animal Emergency Hospital. She received her BS in Animal Sciences from the University of Illinois- Champaign Urbana, where she also completed her Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine in 2007. She is AO certified, USDA-APHIS accredited, and is a member of the CVMA, ISVMA, AVMA.
As decorations, cookies, gifts, and holiday guests arrive in your homes, it can be hard to keep track of your pups and the mischief they might get into. No doubt they will be sniffing and chewing on many of holiday items in the house and there is a good chance they may get themselves into trouble if they are unsupervised. Since our pets are our family and we want to keep them safe during the holidays, it’s helpful to pet-proof your home before the big day arrives to avoid an unexpected trip to the emergency vet.
Holiday Foods Poisonous to Dogs
One of the most common calls to poison control is for dogs who have ingested chocolate. It seems chocolate is everywhere during the holidays and it must be kept out of reach of dogs since it is toxic. Even small amounts of chocolate are dangerous to dogs, so it’s best to keep any chocolate treats stored in a safe place. In addition to chocolate, candy is also plentiful around the holidays. Keep candy canes and any other sweet treats out of reach since these may contain xylitol, which is harmful to dogs.
There are many other poisonous food items that lurk in our homes and alcohol is one of them. We often forget that this encompasses desserts made with alcohol, including rum balls, rum cake, and eggnog, since even the smallest amount of alcohol can be dangerous. The same goes for grapes and raisins, so you’d better hide that fruitcake!
Remember to clear the dinner table of any meal leftovers so unsupervised dogs will not be tempted when you leave the room. Also avoid feeding your dog any table scraps that could include bones from poultry because they can splinter and get stuck in their throat, stomach or digestive tract and require surgery.
Dogs and Christmas Trees
Pet owners know that many dogs find Christmas trees irresistible, with its shiny ornaments and sparkling lights. The tree skirt is also enticing and your dog may think the space underneath the tree is the perfect spot for a nap, but the tree can easily tip over if your pup gets up quickly. Prevent catastrophe by securing the tree to the wall with fishing line and placing ornaments up high, out of your dog’s reach, since broken ornaments can cause injury if stepped on. And while it may look pretty to pile wrapped gifts under the tree, your dog probably thinks these are chew toys. Ribbons, gift tags, and ornaments are all choking hazards for dogs. Also, for those of you that have live Christmas trees, don’t forget to cover the tree stand water since many dogs may be tempted to take a drink. This is a no-no since Christmas tree water additives like sugar and preservatives can cause GI upset. Read more about this and the holiday plants that are poisonous to pets here.
Since the month of December can get hectic, take a few minutes right now to minimize holiday dangers to your dog. Sweep through the house and move any decorations, candy or treats that may be risky for your dog. Once that is done, be sure to update your mobile phone with your veterinarian’s contact info and the phone number to the nearest emergency vet. Post these on the refrigerator too, where your holiday guests can find them easily. And make sure your dog has a safe place to go in case the holiday hoopla is too much. A cozy bed in a quiet room may be just what he needs to escape the holiday madness.
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