Tips to Make Holidays Safe for Your Dog
The holidays are upon us! While most of us welcome the sights, sounds, and smells of the season, holidays can be chaotic even stressful for our dogs. Following these simple tips will help make the festivities safe and happy for your furry companions.
Start by making your Christmas tree safer by hanging heavier non-breakable ornaments near the bottom of your tree and anchoring your tree to a wall or the ceiling to prevent tipping. Tinsel can be deadly to your pets, so just don't use it! Regularly sweep up fallen pine needles to avoid trips to the emergency animal hospital. You can also block your dog's access by placing a folding metal playpen around your tree.
Keep your pets away from toxic holiday plants such as mistletoe, poinsettias, and holly. Use artificial plants to be safe. Many snow globes contain toxic antifreeze, so keep them out of the reach of your dog. Keep candles out of your dog's reach as well. Remember to unplug indoor light strands & electrical cords when you are not home. Most importantly, monitor and supervise your dog at all times.
Fireworks, horns, guns, and other noisemakers can be extremely frightening to the sensitive ears of dogs. Make sure your dogs are in a safe place away from the noise and so they can't escape the house or yard. If fireworks are a particular problem around holidays such as 4th of July or New Year's Eve, talk to your veterinarian about sedatives (such as acepromazine, alprazolam, and/or trazodone) to help your anxious dog and hire a good dog trainer with experience in this area to help you get ready.
Who's at the door?
Holidays typically mean welcoming a bunch of people into your home. Don't wait! Start training your dog's polite behaviors in advance. Teach your dog to "sit" instead of jumping on people, "come" when called, and to "go to your bed" and "lay down" to keep your dog from being underfoot. If your dog is not used to meeting new people or behaving calmly around large groups, start taking your dog out on a leash to places that people frequent, reward your dog with treats for calm behavior. If you are unsure of where to begin or you are struggling to calm your dog, contact a dog trainer to help you!
Before your guests arrive, make sure your dog is wearing a snug fitting collar with ID tags that have your current contact info. If your dog isn't microchipped, call your veterinarian to get this done! Many times when dogs run off, their collars magically come off. Microchips will help ensure you get your dog back.
Don't expect your guests to watch out for your dog. Keep your dog contained in a quiet room, crated, tethered to a dog bed, or on-leash while guests are coming and going, especially if your dog is a door dasher, steals food, or is a nuisance. You can allow your furry companion to join the festivities after the initial commotion of arrival has subsided. For everyone's safety, supervise ALL interactions between your guests and your dog, especially children. Remind family and friends as to interactions with your dog, not every dog is comfortable with hugs or even being touched. Be prepared. Keep treats on hand to help reward your dog's good behaviors. If needed, make sure your dog has a quiet room to retreat from everyone. Be sure to take time away from your guests to check on your dog throughout the festivities.
All this activity may create stress for your dog, so keep plenty of fresh water readily available. Try to stick to your dog's normal routine as best as you can. Don't skip your dog's morning walk. Feed your dog at the same time as any other day. Sticking to your dog's daily routine can provide a sense of normalcy and help to alleviate at least some of your dog's holiday stress.
The easiest rule is to keep your dog away from human foods and anything your dog may ingest such as tinsel, wrapping paper, etc. Be sure you and your guests lock up any medications. Keep lids on garbage cans. If you are unable to keep an attentive eye on your dog, confine your dog or ask a reliable friend to keep your dog occupied in an other room. No matter how cute your dog is, remind your guests to not feed your dog any food because some people food can be toxic to dogs. Don't forget to clean up. Be sure to remove all trash and food to prevent your curious dogs from eating something harmful. Here is an incomplete list of things that are dangerous and safe for your dog:
- Alcohol, Coffee, Tea, Caffeine
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol), Aspirin,
- Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin),
- Naproxen (Aleve),
- Xylitol (found in gum, tictacs, etc)
- Sugar, Sweeteners, Candy, Chocolate
- Avocados, Nuts, Seeds, Pits, Grapes, Raisins, Dates, Figs, Dried Fruits, Mushrooms, Garlic, Onion, Corn cob
- Nutmeg, Paprika, Pepper
- Cooked bones (can break or splinter)
- Mistletoe, Holly, Poinsettias, Lilies
- Aloe Vera, Coconut oil (small amounts)
- (No pits or seeds!) Apples, Apricots, Oranges, Peaches, Pears, Plums, Watermelon
- Asparagus, Bananas, Berries, Broccoli, Carrots, Cheese, Celery, Corn (no cob), Cucumbers, Green beans, Kiwi, Olives, Peas, Potatoes, Pumpkin, Spinach, Sweet Potatoes/Yams, Squash, Tomatoes
- (small amounts) Basil, Cinnamon, Flax Seeds, Ginger, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Tumeric
- Raw/uncooked bones, beef, chicken, rabbit, duck, turkey, eggs