The holidays are a wonderful time to celebrate with friends and loved ones, but they can be less than jolly for your family pet. Holiday festivities can disrupt a dog's routine—and seemingly harmless holiday decorations can present serious health hazards. The following common-sense precautions can make the season happy, safe, and stress-free for everyone.
- Make your Christmas tree disaster-proof. If your dog is a jumper, consider anchoring the tree to the wall or ceiling for extra security. Hang non-breakable ornaments near the bottom of the tree and avoid tinsel completely. If eaten, tinsel can twist in your dog's intestines and cause serious problems.
- Sweep up pine needles. Check around holiday trees and wreaths frequently. Ingested sharp pine needles can puncture your pet's intestines.
- Keep holiday plants out of reach. Mistletoe, poinsettias, and amaryllis are all toxic to dogs. Keep these poisonous holiday plants on a table or stand that your dog can't get to, even if he jumps on a chair.
- Be a Scrooge about holiday sweets. Avoid giving your dog candy, cookies, cakes, and chocolate. These sweets can trigger life-threatening illnesses in dogs. Don't overdo the dog treats either. There's nothing festive about a dog that has diarrhea.
- Beware of snow globes. Many snow globes contain antifreeze, which is extremely toxic to dogs. If there is a snow globe spill, send your dog out of the room while you clean up the liquid.
- Have a "no bones" policy. As tempting as it is to share some of your holiday feast, turkey and chicken bones are not for dogs. They can easily break and cause choking, and bone shards can get stuck in your dog's gums, throat and intestines.
- Keep an eye on candles. Lighted candles should never be left unattended—especially if they're at your dog's eye level. A wagging tail or a swat of a paw, and candles and hot wax can quickly become disastrous.
- Don't banish your dog outdoors. While it might be convenient to put your dog outside when guests arrive, cold and snow can be dangerous to pets. In addition, never let your pet roam freely, as icy roads can make it hard for cars to stop if your dog wanders into the street.
- Keep the liquids flowing. When pets are stressed by unfamiliar commotion, they typically pant more, so make sure fresh water is always available for them.
Remember, a tired dog is a good dog. Exercise your dog before guests arrive. After 30 minutes of walking or playing, most dogs will be more relaxed or ready to take a nap. Give your dog a break in a quiet room with a familiar doggie bed or blanket. After the initial commotion of arrival has subsided, allow your pooch to join the festivities.
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