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Holiday Safety Tips for Dogs

It's that time of year again when holiday decorations and festivities can be an issue for our dogs.


December is a busy time of year for many of us and we often have a lot going on in our households. New decorations, guests, postal deliveries, holiday cuisine - all things that can be a hazard for our dogs if we're not aware. Here are some tips to keep in mind this month:

If you hang any types of ornaments or wreaths in your house, make sure that they're out of reach of your dogs. Many of these can be very enticing to dogs with their shiny colors. Unfortunately if swallowed, items like tinsel or small pieces of an ornament can cause intestinal blockages. If you suspect your dog won't be able to resist them, either use different types of ornaments, or try blocking off your tree with an x-pen.

Edible ornaments can be a real issue as well. Items like strung popcorn or gingerbread houses not only look yummy to dogs, they smell delicious as well. Again, if you don't think you can keep them secure, it's best to find alternative decorations.

Candles are another favorite for people during the winter holidays. Make sure your candles are secure if lit. It's easy for a rambunctious dog to knock a candle over and this can lead to fire, or at the very least, messy wax which can be quite a pain to clean up. And if you have a fireplace, depending on your dog, you may need to keep logs secured as some dogs find them to be a tasty chew toy which can cause havoc on their stomachs.

If you get a live tree, you may need to block it off with an x-pen or some type of gate because dogs can be attracted to drinking the water in the bucket the tree sits in. They may also be at risk of ingesting pine needles or getting them stuck in their paws/fur. And you definitely don't want any type of lit candle near the tree since there's a risk of a dog or other pet knocking them over and hitting the tree.

Keep extra electric cables hidden from your pets, or use cable wrapping or PVC tubes. Having new wires running around the house to keep holiday lights going can definitely attract interest from curious pets.

Many delicious food items are in houses in abundance because of family gatherings or being received/given as gifts. Unfortunately a lot of these items are toxic for dogs, such as chocolate, or may just contain ingredients high in fat and/or sugar which can make your dog quite sick. There's also a risk of pancreatitis from eating such food items. While you may be really good about keeping these away from your dog, make sure any guests to your house who are not as dog savvy are aware of the risks, particularly if there are young children who may find giving the dog "treats" a lot of fun.

Another gift item you find often in homes are holiday plants like poinsettias, lillies or palm trees. These definitely need to be put in a place your dog cannot reach as they are poisonous for dogs and cats.

Finally this is the time of year when your dog's crate can be your best friend! If you are too busy dealing with holiday cooking or decorating or greeting guests, and you're worried about your dog, don't hesitate to give your dog a nice chew and a toy in his or her crate. Particularly if your dog is not as enthused about new people as you are, he or she will probably appreciate being given a safe, low-stress spot to hang out in. It's not a bad idea to keep an extra supply of frozen stuff Kongs or other chews that you know your dog loves on hand in case you need to keep them occupied for some extra periods of time. And of course, don't forget to provide them with exercise. It's not uncommon for us over the next few weeks to fall back on our daily exercise regimen because we have so many things to attend to, but definitely keeping your dog well-exercised and on schedule ultimately means less stress for you and for your dog. Not to mention, it will help keep the extra holiday calories you will inevitably gain down to a management amount!

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