A Safe Holiday for Your Dogs
The seasonal holidays are a time when many families and friends get together to celebrate. Planning for the holidays should always include consideration for your pets.
If you are going to be away for the holidays, start making plans now if you aren’t taking your dog(s) with you. If you need to board your pet, get a reservation at a kennel or arrange for a pet sitter as soon as possible. This is the busiest time of the year for kennels. Most kennels require Bordetella vaccines to prevent kennel cough, some want the vaccination a week before you board.
Have all your vaccine records with you when you first go there. You should make arrangements to provide any of your dog’s favorite foods, medicines, toys, etc. If your dog sleeps on a pillow or special blanket, be sure to bring it with you so your dog will have a sense of familiarity. A good idea is to rub a towel on your arms and legs and leave it in the kennel cage so your scent stays with your pooch.
When kenneling your pooch for the first time, you might want to arrange to leave your pet there for just a day. Then, when you dog sees you at the end of the day, there will be an expectation of your return when you have to leave him for a longer time.
If you are taking your pet with you on a holiday trip, please make sure ahead of time where there are emergency veterinarian hospitals along the way and where you will be staying. If you have a GPS, program it to accommodate any urgent needs regarding your dog.
Holiday decorations can be problematic. For those who still like to string popcorn or cranberries for a garland, or place chocolate ornaments on the tree, remember that your dog will be able to smell the food. Jumping on the tree to get to it can result in a fallen tree which can be a fire hazard as well as cause an injury to your pet. Scented candles can also be an attraction for a dog. Be sure that when you do light candles that they are out in a place that can’t be knocked down by a wagging tail.
Be careful when taking out your ornaments and decorating the tree. Sometimes the wire hooks fall off and can easily be pressed into the carpet. Your dog might step on them and get them embedded into its paws.
Do you have a puppy or a chewer? The Christmas lights wires could be an attraction for your pet. Be sure to make every precaution possible to keep your pet and your family safe. When you go out for the evening, make sure that you have turned off the tree lights and any other lighted decorations you have. It’s a good idea to consider keeping your pet in a different room when you are not at home.
You should periodically check the electrical cords for any chew marks.
Check your dog regularly for any changes in behavior such as excessive licking, drooling, change in appetite drinking excessively, lethargy, diarrhea, and/or vomiting. These could be signs of ingesting chemicals associated with ornaments, the Christmas tree or other seasonal plant. Electrical burns from chewing on electrical cords can cause drooling, pain in the mouth, not wanting to play with its usual toys, and lack of appetite.
Holiday food should be monitored carefully. Homemade breads and rolls contain yeast. Make sure that your dog cannot get to the uncooked dough because, if eaten by your dog, it could cause very serious health problems as it expands. While most of you are aware that raisins and grapes are among the food that your dog should NEVER eat, candy and pastries containing xylitol as a sugar substitute, are very dangerous if your pet consumes it. Even a little consumption of xylitol can cause seizures and other problems for your dog.
Christmas trees are another area of concern. The oil of fir trees can cause irritation of the mouth if your dog starts to chew on the tree. Also, the tree needles aren’t easily digested. In order to keep the tree fresh, chemicals are added such as preservatives, pesticides, and other chemicals so you should never let your dog drink from the Christmas tree-base water that keeps your tree fresh. It is a good idea to buy a covered water dish.
Mistletoe and holly are also plants you should avoid around the house. If you are using holly leaves and berries for decorating the dinner table, place them on the table just before your guests arrive. Make sure that all the leaves and berries are picked up and disposed of where your dog can’t get to them.
Children should be cautioned about teasing your dog with dog toys or treats hung in a stocking. One of my rescues is now a part of my pack because a young child had grabbed her toy bone. The result was a nip in the head that ultimately caused her to be placed in a shelter.
If you are having friends and family for dinner, please remember that while you and your children know the proper protocols for keeping your pet safe, your guests might not. Make sure that all visitors know the rules about keeping gates closed and secure, especially when the kids are playing in the yard. This goes especially for the front door. If your guests’ children aren’t used to being around dogs, they might not know that some things they do, like tease the dog by taking its toy away, or grabbing its tail, might make the dog aggressive and a fear bite could occur.
At a time when cookies and chocolate as well as other traditional sweets are available, you should be careful about not feeding your pooches any of these. Make sure that all candy wrappers are thrown away in a secure container. It is easy for them to be dropped on the floor. Your dog might try to chew and swallow the wrappers thinking there is still food in them.
As there is a tendency overeat at this time of the year, remember that the table scraps you might want to give to your dog rather than you eating them can be detrimental to their health. A lot of people avoid eating the turkey skin because of the high fat content. That fat content affects your dog in the same way.
An overweight dog can have the same problems as an overweight human. Make sure that turkey bones are disposed of in a way that your dog cannot get to them. Not doing so could result, if your dog survives, in a very expensive at a vet’s office.
These are squeakers commonly found in dog toys. They can be very dangerous if swallowed. Please consider this when buying gifts for your dogs this holiday season.
Have a safe and wonderful and safe holiday season and make sure it is a safe one for your dog.
© 2010 Bruce Malter, PawPassion.org