Keeping your dog safe and happy during the holidays

November 30, 2016

Keep your dog safe at christmasThe holiday season can be a busy and exciting time here in Lakewood and Golden. With holiday decorations decking the halls and holiday treats on the table, there are hazards to your dog’s health that must be considered. Dog training isn’t enough to keep your pet from investigating these glittering new temptations in her environment. Even the most obedient dog will be excited by the festive atmosphere and may get herself into trouble during the holiday season.

Decoration Safety Tips to Protect Your Pet

Be sure the Christmas tree is secured, so a curious dog can’t tip it over on herself or someone else. Use a tree skirt, plastic wrap, or another cover to keep your dog from drinking the tree water, which could contain fertilizers or bacteria that will upset her stomach.

Mistletoe, holly, and poinsettia are toxic if ingested. Keep them well out of reach or opt for harmless artificial plants in your decorations. Tinsel, power cords, glass ornaments, and lighted candles are also potential holiday hazards for your pet. Never leave a lighted candle unattended, especially when a dog is also in the room! Tinsel garlands are a choking hazard or can cause a bowel obstruction if ingested. Keep them too high for the dog to pull on them. Holiday decorations often look like fun toys and even the best dog training cannot stop a dog from trying to play with something so intriguing. Obviously broken glass is dangerous for your dog to ingest, so anything that she might be tempted to chew or throw needs to be too high for her to play with and possibly hurt herself. Power cords should be taped down or tucked away, so a dog can’t chew them and get a shock or become tangled.

Batteries are another hazard that may end up in a dog’s reach — and mouth — during the season. A punctured battery will burn your pet’s mouth and esophagus, so make sure you dispose of old batteries properly, and don’t leave any new ones purchased for toys and electronics where your dog can get into them.

Holiday Food and Your Dog

Preventing your dog from eating or drinking treats intended for humans only is another holiday challenge. You know not to feed your dog chocolate or anything sweetened with xylitol, but make sure your guests are aware of what dogs cannot eat as well. A guest can innocently make your dog very sick by slipping something fatty, spicy, or full of bones into her kennel or food bowl. If someone cannot resist sharing a snack with your dog, make sure it’s something safe for her to eat: plain chicken or turkey without bones or skin, a broccoli floret or two, a taste of sweet potato (hold the marshmallow!). Dogs cannot have sugar, salt, or a lot of fat. Making sure your guests understand that a begging dog is probably not really hungry, and can be rewarded with affection as easily as a treat, will protect your dog from tummy trouble at a party. Alcoholic beverages are toxic for dogs, so keep her away from that punch bowl of eggnog. Alcohol poisoning can result in a coma or respiratory failure.

Your Dog and Your Guests

Keep your dog away from the risks of a large holiday party by creating an inviting space for her with her own toys and treats handy, in a separate room or a dog crate or kennel. Dog-loving guests can always slip away to visit her in her own space, and initiate fun sessions of tug, fetch, or whatever games your dog likes to play. A filled Kong or marrow bone provides a terrific distraction — kibble, bits of carrot, peanut butter, small pieces of chicken, dried liver treats are healthy and delicious to your dog, and working these treats out of the toy will keep her engaged and relaxed. Even the most social and loving dogs can be overwhelmed by crowds, noise, and changes to their routines.

Tempting as it is to include your dog in all the festivities, maintaining her routine as much as possible will make the holiday season much more fun for your pet. If you suspect your dog may be uncomfortable with crowds of guests, engaging a dog daycare or dog boarding service on special occasions will keep your dog calmer and happier. A safe and friendly environment will keep your dog from canine panic attacks. A dog who has had regular visits to dog daycare before the holiday season will know what to expect, and you will always be assured that your dog is getting enough exercise, even when you are too busy during the festive season for the usual long walks.

Boarding your dog on New Year’s Eve, or bringing her to dog daycare for a play session during a Christmas open house, keeps her safe and gives you peace of mind. Pet Peeves dog boarding and daycare, with locations in Lakewood and Golden, can help you and your pet alleviate any possible stresses during the holiday season, and enjoy the holidays without risks.