The holidays are great for getting some quality time with our families and pets as we get to enjoy some extra time at home. The bustle of guests coming and going, new sights and smells within the house from decorations, meals and gifts and a change in the normal household routines can all cause extra anxiety for our dogs during the holiday season. Now is a great time to think about what you can do to take better care of your dog during this hectic time of year.
Why do our pets love the holidays?
We all love the holiday season, our pets especially who get to enjoy our increased presence at home during this time of year, the variety of new smells and tastes from all those great holiday meals and the general excitement felt by all around the decorations and coziness of festivities. Our dogs will have so many new things to smell, gift packages to inspect, delivery drivers to bark at and an interesting stream of visitors to jump on. However, this can also be a stressful time of year for our pets because of the many changes in our homes and a shift in the daily routines.
What about the holidays can be dangerous for dogs?
During this time of year, a lot is different in our homes with guests and decorations and new foods, there are many things your dog will want to explore and maybe put their mouths on. Now is the time to plan ahead to protect your dog during the holidays. Be considerate about the decorations you use. Ornaments can be fun and tempting play toys but if they are breakable or hazardous you need to put them well out of reach from your dog. Decorative strands of lights and extension cords can be dangerous chewing hazards and you should be mindful of where you put them and never leave them plugged in when unattended.
Gifts and wrapping also pose a threat to dogs that are prone to chewing and eating new and shiny things. Don’t forget that your dog might be interested in getting into any wrapped packages left under the tree especially if you are an avid food-gifter. Don’t wrap up the chocolate Santas and leave them under the tree!
Packaging itself is a very fun toy for pets to play with on Christmas morning but anything like ribbon or tinsel is extremely dangerous if swallowed. Consider using a safer alternative to these and never leave them lying around unattended. If you are worried about your dog’s interest in eating your decorations or presents you can always give them some new and interesting chew toys at this time of year to help occupy them with appropriate playthings.
Don’t Forget About Holiday Plant Safety
We often bring different festive plants into our homes this time of year so be careful with what your dog has access to. Holly, mistletoe, and amaryllis plants are a few of the many ornamental holiday plants that are toxic for your dog if ingested. Also be careful with your dog around the Christmas tree, not letting them eat the evergreen needles or drink from the water as these can be dangerous to your dog’s stomach.
The Dangers of Holiday Foods
There’s nothing like the smell of a holiday meal cooking with all the different dishes and desserts that go with it, yum! Along with us, our pets are also especially interested in food so they need to be kept from certain dangerous items that are toxic or can pose choking hazards.
Chocolate is toxic to dogs and should be kept far out of reach along with other desserts that might contain chocolate ingredients. Cooked turkey or chicken bones are very tempting to dogs but can splinter and pose choking risks so keep these away from your pets and dispose of them carefully. Keeping your kitchen garbage empty is a good way to prevent your dog from getting a hold of potentially dangerous foods during the holidays Yeast bread doughs and other sweet treats should also be kept from your dog as they too can be dangerous.
When preparing for a holiday party be sure to plan ahead for how your dog will fit into the festivities, and if you have a pet with anxiety or other issues consider ways to keep them separate from the celebration. It’s a good idea to inform your guests about the type of pets in your home before your party so they are aware in case of any possible allergies or other concerns. Prepare a separate and quiet space in your home for your pet to go if they wish to get away from the guests, somewhere they have water and plenty of toys to occupy them if the hubbub makes them anxious. During the party be extra careful around the front door as this can be a common time for pets to escape. You might want to consider having your dog microchipped and always with a collar and ID tag.
The winter season poses certain risks to our pets that with a little attention we can avoid. One danger to our pets in the winter is from exposure to antifreeze that contains ethylene. If any antifreeze gets spilled make sure to clean it up immediately, the sweet taste of this liquid that remains unfrozen can be intriguing to pets but is poisonous if ingested. If your dog is going to be outside, ensure they have drinking water in a location that won’t freeze.
You should also keep an eye on your dog’s paws during the cold weather months as the skin can become dry, cracked, or cut. Dry off your dog’s paws whenever they come in and moisturize them if needed. Dogs can experience chemical burns if their paws come into contact with salt and ice melt so consider booties for your dog if needed.
Don’t forget that professional dog trainers are always here to help
If you are worried about the stress the holiday season might have on your dog with holiday parties, excitement and visitors you always have the option of reaching out to our dog training professionals for help. In addition to helping you achieve your training goals and addressing anxiety, or other behavioral issues, we also offer boarding services. Depending on how your holiday plans shape up it might be best to give your dog its own getaway here at My Dog Listens. For professional training and/or boarding services, My Dog Listens is here for you.