December 8, 2022
How to Keep Your Dog Safe from Holiday Hazards

'Tis the season of building snowmen and cute dog holiday sweaters again. In this time of merriment and get-togethers, however, there will be possible dog threats that you need to avoid. And we’re here to give you life-saving tips on keeping your dog safe from these five potential holiday hazards.

How to Keep Your Dog Safe from Holiday Hazards

Dog holiday hazard #1: Decorations

From candles and raw pumpkins during Halloween to Christmas trees and trinkets, a likely threat lurks in your home.

Steer your dogs clear from holiday decorations that are potentially toxic when ingested or can cause choking, such as:

  • Christmas baubles – can cause blockage. Also, if your dog swallowed some parts, surgery would be needed.
  • Batteries – highly toxic to dogs
  • Water base and additives for Christmas trees – the water could be a breeding ground for bacteria. In addition, aspirin and other additives in the water are toxic to dogs.
  • Plants (hollies, mistletoes, poinsettias, cedar, pine, balsam, ivy, yew) – holiday plants may add greenery and charm to your home, but they can cause allergy or be poisonous to dogs. Poinsettias are only mildly toxic but can cause skin irritation and stomach upset. Mistletoes are highly toxic to dogs.
  • Salted dough ornaments – salty food can be harmful to dogs. Ingesting high levels of sodium can cause seizures.

Electric lights, wirings, and candles can set the holiday mood in your home. Unfortunately, if your dog chews on or tips them, it can lead to a fire. Your dog can also get injured or get an electric shock.

How to keep your dog safe from holiday decorations:

  1. Put a fence around the Christmas tree so your dog can’t chew on decorations, presents, and wires.
  2. Tie your Christmas trees securely or tether them to the ceiling so your dog can’t tip them over and cause havoc.
  3. Make sure the Christmas decorations are out of their reach. If this can't be helped, see that you're always watching your dog.
  4. Train them not to chew on the decorations and wires.
  5. Keep the cords covered, and don't put Christmas lights too low.
  6. Don't leave candles unattended; turn off lights when not in use or when you need to leave the house. Use battery-operated or LED candles instead.
  7. Decorate with unbreakable Christmas bells to help alert you when your dog sniffs around or chews on things.
  8. Choose artificial or plastic plant decorations. They're usually cheaper, and you can recycle them for the next holiday. You also don't have to worry about keeping them fresh or maintaining them before your guests arrive.
  9. When dogs break an ornament or topple down the tree before you can stop it, clean up broken pieces as soon as possible and keep your dogs out of the room until all clutters are cleared.

Dog holiday hazard #2: Food

What's a holiday without sumptuous food? While you share some well-loved family recipes and holiday treats at the table, your dog should be kept away from these toxic foods:

  • Chocolates
  • Raisins and grapes
  • Apples
  • Turkey
  • Bones and food scraps
  • Candies
  • Meat fat
  • Salty food
  • Gravy
  • Christmas cakes, treats, and puddings
  • Nuts
  • Cheese
  • Alcohol
  • Dough

How to keep your dog safe from toxic holiday foods:

  1. When planning for your holiday meal, include dog-friendly food on the menu.
  2. Don’t feed your dog dishes that contain onions, garlic, and chives.
  3. Let everyone know which food they can and cannot give your dog.
  4. Feed your dog before the festivities, and instruct your guests not to give in to those heartbreakingly begging eyes. There's a cute "don't-feed-me" collar or dog bib that you can let your dog wear to remind everyone of this important note.
  5. Keep food on the table away from your dog’s reach.
  6. Be also mindful of discarding food trash. Make sure the garbage is securely covered because, let's face it, even when full, dogs still love to scavenge when the smell of food is enticing.
  7. Keep treats handy, so you can give them something to eat while they socialize.
  8. Putting them in a separate safe room while everyone enjoys their meal is better.
  9. Train your dog not to eat anything until you’ve given them the signal.

Xylitol is a common ingredient in candies, peanut butter, gums, brownies, and other treats. Avoid giving your dog treats and baked goods containing this ingredient.

Dog holiday hazard #3: Antifreeze and snow dangers

Holidays also mean cold weather and snow.

When going for a walk or if your dog needs to go, make sure they're in safe territory.

Keep your dogs warm with dog boots and waterproof dog jackets when outside.

Provide your dog with a drinking water supply so they don't get tempted to drink other liquids which could contain antifreeze.

Keep your antifreeze containers away from their paw’s reach.

Dog holiday hazard #4: Gifts and bags

Some gifts contain food that your dog might get a whiff of. Keep gifts away from your dog. Don’t leave them unsupervised around presents.

Dispose of gift wrappers, ribbons, strings, and containers properly.

Styrofoam and shredded papers usually used inside the gifts can also cause choking. Have a designated trash box – away from your puppy – for everyone to throw these things in while you open your presents together.

Your dog might chew on small toys and gift items, so don't leave them lying around for your curious canine.

Your dog might try to sniff something in a small bag and get his head stuck there. There are reports of dogs dying of suffocation when they can't get their heads out of potato chip bags and the like. So make sure all bags are closed, folded, or away from your curious sniffers.

Dog holiday hazard #5: People

Although dogs are naturally social creatures, some are anxious around people. However, dealing with dog anxiety during the holiday is not as challenging if you know what to do.

How to keep your anxious dog calm and safe during the holiday?

Loud party music, laughter, doorbells ringing, and fireworks could get your dog overly excited or upset.

Ask your trainer or read about how to take care of animals during the holidays, especially when noise triggers their anxiety.

Tips to keep your dog calm

  • Take them for a walk or tire them out with fun play. They should relax better when their energy is already spent.
  • Give them a calming supplement. Always ask your vet first.
  • Create a safe place where they can hide and rest.
  • Give them their favorite toy or comfort object.
  • If you can, don’t leave their side.
  • Keep the doors and gate closed, so they don't run away.
  • Have your dogs microchipped or keep their dog collars with your contact number.
  • Crate-train your dog.

Some people with anxious dogs prefer to celebrate by themselves. And that’s completely okay!

Plan a quiet and fun holiday with your dog at home.

Watching Christmas movies while eating Chinese takeout is just as exciting if you have a loving dog snuggled up comfortably beside you.

What to do when you think your dog is in danger during the holidays?

Keeping an eye on your dog or having someone reliable supervise them while you're busy with your guests is critical.

If you suspect your dog has eaten something he shouldn't, got injured, or is behaving differently, drop everything and come to his rescue.

Watch out for these signs of dog poisoning:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Extreme salivation
  • Weakness
  • Falling over
  • Increased in urination

Before the holiday, ask your vet if he'll be working or if the clinic is open.

Research vet hospitals and clinics nearby that are open 24/7 and during the holiday.

Write down emergency numbers, including Pet Poison Helpline 855-764-7661.

For minor injuries or ailments, have an emergency kit ready.

Wash your dog’s paws or fur if that’s where the poison is.

Educate yourself about holiday pet safety and what to do when these things happen. For example, what should you do if your dog chokes?

Try not to panic.

Remember that your dog's life and safety are in your hands, so keep a clear mind.

When you arrive at the clinic, inform the vet what you think could have caused the poisoning. Bring a sample of the poison (e.g., food wrapper) if you can.

Tell them when you think it happened if your dog has any preexisting conditions or allergies.

Final Words

The holiday is a joyful time for everybody. There are mesmerizing lights and lovely decorations. Delicious foods for everyone to feast on. Cheers and happy stories are shared over a glass of wine. It should also be a good time for your dogs where they can join in the fun. Keeping your dog safe during the holidays may be a lot of work, especially for first-time dog parents. But you can prepare for it and steer your dog away from holiday hazards. May you and your family – including your fur babies – have a merry time celebrating. Happy holidays!

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