It’s finally getting near the peak of the holiday season as we enter the chaotic yet exciting homestretch toward the New Year! With only a few days left until Christmas, we wanted to remind everyone to be sure to watch out for our furry family members while still including them in all the fun. Here are some helpful reminders to keep your pet safe this holiday season!
While having the biggest, fullest tree on the block might be on your to-do list this year, make sure to secure it properly with a tree stand or in a room away from any pets and keep all décor high enough on the tree that they are out of reach. After all, just one curious cat is all it takes for the tree to come crashing down and tinsel and other tree toppers can be harmful if ingested. Did we mention investing in some shatter-proof ornaments?
Is your tree real? Pine needles can also be potentially harmful to your pet’s intestines so be sure to keep this area clean as often as possible or think about switching to an artificial tree. That’s not all though, many popular holiday plants, such as poinsettias, holly and even mistletoe can be toxic to both dogs and cats.
Don’t forget to keep the wiring from Christmas lights away from teething or precocious troublemakers. These pose serious shock hazards and combined with pine needles that can become extremely flammable when dried out, there is the potential for fire.
Be Selective of What Goes Under the Tree and on the Table
You might be enjoying having finally finished all your shopping and feeling eager to put everything under the tree, but refrain from putting out treats and other goodies until Christmas morning when you can supervise. While you might think you’ve tucked away your kid’s surprise treats with wrapping paper and gift boxes, all it takes is a playful pup or a snack-searching hound to tear open a box of chocolates to get a taste. Remember, your pet has a superior sense of smell and even a well-trained dog may manage to get into something left out in the open. Chocolate and other candies pose a serious threat to your pets if ingested in large quantities!
It is also a good idea to keep an eye out for family members that may try to sneak scraps and other treats to your dog without knowing if they have sensitivities or if they are unknowingly giving your dog a potentially toxic or damaging food. Onions, garlic and turkey bones can pose a serious risk, especially if a bone splinters and causes blockages.
If you’re planning to head to a gathering for an extended amount of time, plan for a sitter or other arrangements to keep your pet cared for. We don’t recommend bringing your pet to a holiday gathering unless it’s an environment your pet is used to. Loud noise, strangers, and doors opening and closing might be a stressful scenario for your pet, especially if you’re distracted by friends and family and can’t give them the attention they need. In the end, your dog might be better off patiently awaiting your return home. If you have a lot of stops to make, try to head home between gatherings to check on your furry friend.
If you have a scared or anxious dog, plan ahead for fireworks around new years. It may be a good idea to invest in an aid like the “thundershirt” or other canine wraps that help calm dogs with noise anxiety. Keep them away from windows as some dogs may react to visual stimulation. Another thing to think about may be providing a safe area for your dog to retreat to such as their crate or an enclosed area. Many dogs will hide in closets or small spaces such as under a bed when trying to retreat from a scary noise. You can also encourage them with a particularly distracting treat such as a peanut butter stuffed kong or something with a strong smell that they can focus on.
Never force your dog to come outside in an attempt to desensitize them to the noise, or to take a Christmas photo. If they cower or run away it’s because they are not ready and it’s important that you watch for nervous signs such as shaking, tail between their legs or more subtle cues such as lip licking, yawning or whining.
The holidays can certainly still be a fun and exciting time for you and your dog, but it is important to give special care and attention to keep your pet safe during this busy time. From all of us at Release the Hounds, have a happy and safe holiday!
Written by: Rachelle Biever (CPDT-KA)