In planning for this season’s holiday festivities, it is important to keep your pets in mind. While most of us welcome the sights, sounds and smells of the season, holidays can also be chaotic—especially for dogs. Holiday festivities can disrupt a dog’s routine and present potentially dangerous circumstances. But by following a few common-sense tips, the holidays can be cheery for everyone—including the family dog.
- Avoid Christmas tree disasters. Christmas trees are a wonderful tradition, but they can lead to problems if you have a curious canine.
- Prevent the tree from tipping. Anchor it to the ceiling or wall.
- Hang non-breakable ornaments near the bottom of the tree.
- Tinsel can be deadly when eaten. It can twist in your dog’s intestines and cause serious problems, so do not put it on your tree.
- Don’t let your dog drink the Christmas tree water. It often contains chemicals to help the tree last longer; these chemical can cause severe indigestion in dogs.
- Pine needles can cause health problems. Regularly sweep up fallen pine needles to avoid a trip to the emergency animal clinic.
- Mistletoe, poinsettias and amaryllis can be toxic. Be aware of these poisonous holiday plants and keep your pets away from them.
- Keep snow-globe snow in the globe. Many snow globes contain antifreeze, which is extremely toxic to dogs—so it’s best to keep snow globes and all antifreeze out of the reach of a happy, tail-wagging dog.
- Holiday sweets are not dog treats. Candy, cookies, cakes, peppermints—and especially chocolate. Keep all sweets away from your dog and in a place where they cannot be reached.
- Make no bones about it. Cooked turkey and chicken bones are not for dogs as they can easily break, causing choking or bone shards to get stuck in your dog’s gums. Stick with “dog bones” specifically designed for dogs to chew. Ask your local veterinarian for suggestions.
- A relaxed dog is a good dog. Most dogs are excitable when guests arrive. Exercise your dog prior to the arrival of guests. As a general rule, it’s best not to allow the family dog to greet unfamiliar guest because commotion and unusual circumstances can cause stress for dogs. Allow your canine companion to join the festivities after the initial commotion of arrival has subsided.
- Keep the liquids flowing! When pets are stressed by unfamiliar circumstances, they typically pant more, so keep fresh water readily available for them to drink.
- Add your pet to your gift list. Help your dogs stay occupied and out of the holiday decorations by giving them their own gifts. The Buster Cube™ or a Kong™, are nearly indestructible toys that will distract your dog for long periods of time.
Tis the season for all things merry—and that includes your furry friends. Following these simple tips will help make the festivities safe and happy for you and your canine companions.
Jeri Wagner is a canine behavioral therapist and master trainer. Jeri uses a natural training system leveraging the same communication methods – body language and voice control – that dogs follow as part of their instinctive pack mentality. Training takes place in the home where the problems generally occur. Jeri trains in western Montgomery county and northern Chester County. For more information, call 1-877-500 BARK (2275) or visit www.barkbusters.com.
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