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.
1. 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.
2. Mistletoe, poinsettias and amaryllis can be toxic. Be aware of these poisonous holiday plants and keep your pets away from them.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. Beware of cold and snowy weather. While it might be convenient to put your dogs outside when guests arrive for holiday festivities, dropping temperatures and snow can be dangerous to pets.
9. Do not give pets as surprise gifts! A cute and cuddly puppy might seem like the perfect gift choice, but many of these holiday presents end up at animal shelters. A dog takes a real commitment of time, and adoptive owners must be ready to participate in training and managing the responsibility of their new family member. If you know someone who’s serious about wanting a dog, consider giving a leash, collar or dog training certificate from Bark Busters, along with a note saying a dog of the recipient’s choice comes with it. This will help ensure the lucky person receives the dog he or she wants to have as part of the family.
10. 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 dog behavioral therapist and trainer with Bark Busters Home Dog Training. Bark Busters’ natural training system leverages the same communications methods—body language and voice control—that dogs follow as part of their instinctive pack mentality. All training takes place right in the home where the problems generally occur. In every market where Bark Busters is established, a majority of veterinarians familiar with the technique recommend the company’s services. For more information, call 1-877-500-BARK (2275) or visit www.BarkBusters.com.