How do you keep your pet safe during the holidays?
For pet lovers, it’s a question that looms in the back of our mind, as we decorate the tree, unwrap presents, eat chocolates and candy, and offer all sorts of gifts that may glitter on the outside, but carry potential danger for our beloved pets. I know it’s a crazy time of year, when everything seems to be going a hundred miles an hour. I’m with you, truly . . . I can relate. But please slow down long enough to read these 5 essential pet safety tips during the holidays.
1. PUPPY PROOF YOUR HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS (INSIDE AND OUTSIDE):
- Holiday Plants—Keep holiday plants such as mistletoe, poinsettia and holly berries out of your pets reach. If swallowed, they can be deadly. Even that sweet-smelling holiday potpourri can be toxic.
- Decorations—Dogs (especially puppies) can be very curious and mischievous. Keep decorations out of their reach, especially small ornaments, tinsel, and ribbon which if swallowed can cause choking and/or injury to the intestines. Strands of holiday lights if chewed can also electrocute your dog.
Tip—If you have smaller dogs, avoid decorating the very bottom of the tree where they can reach. If you have larger dogs, try purchasing a smaller tree that can go on a table—out of sight, out of mind. You can also place a barrier (i.e. puppy play pen) around your tree to keep the dogs away.
- Candles—Keep Holiday candles at a safe distance from dogs. They could easily be knocked over by a rambunctious puppy or adult dog and cause a fire.
- Candy and Chocolate—Keep all left over Halloween candy and Holiday chocolates out of reach! Chocolate especially can poison your pet.
- Deliveries— Holiday packages left at our door by UPS can also pose a danger to your dog. I recall one year walking out my front door only to find a half eaten package. Someone sent edible goodies for Christmas, and my dog, with his powerful sniffer helped himself to the holiday treats! Thankfully, he was okay. If you’re ordering gifts in the mail, track them to know what day they arrive, so you can keep watch at your door. Also, let family and friends know to alert you if they’re sending a gift by mail that might be dangerous for your pet.
2. DON’T FEED YOUR DOG HOLIDAY LEFT-OVER’S:
Any sudden change in diet can cause intestinal troubles. Be very careful to keep all poultry bones away from dogs that enjoy stealing food off the table. Put away left-over’s. Poultry bones can splinter and cause internal injury and intestinal blockage. Also avoid over treating your dog. Even dog treats can add unnecessary calories to their diet.
Of course, we all want to lavish our precious pooch with treats and gifts during the holidays, but calories add up. Even raw hide chewies add calories.
3. KEEP YOUR DOGS ON A ROUTINE:
Dog’s love routine. Any break in routine (i.e. change of food, strangers in the house) can bring stress into their lives. Some dogs will get upset stomachs, lose their appetite, or have loose stool; others might exhibit unusual or negative behavior. Despite busy holiday schedules, keep as much routine as possible for your dogs— same eating schedules, daily walks . . . whatever you usually do, try to keep it up.
4. KEEP YOUR DOG AWAY FROM STRESSFUL ACTIVITIES AND EVENTS:
Holiday parties may be fun for all, except for your beloved family pet. Loud music, noisy chatter, laughing, drinking, and dancing may not be the ideal environment for a dog, and especially not for a young pup. While the activities are in full swing and guests are enjoying the festivities, the family dog may be completely stressed, cowering in a dark corner or under a bed to avoid all the commotion.
If you can’t be aware of his needs, emotions, or whereabouts, it’s safest to crate him (or place in a secure location) in a quiet room where he feels comfortable. Playing some soothing music can also relax your pet. Crating your dog, or keeping him in a secure location could save his life. I know of a family whose beloved dog slipped out the door while the holiday guests where arriving. He got lost, and was eventually hit by a car. That holiday season ended in heartache. But catastrophes like this can be avoided. I used to keep my Labrador on a leash with me until all guests had arrived. Fortunately, she loved the company so did not need to be crated, but every dog is different. Let’s make sure that every family member , including our beloved pets, are happy, healthy, and safe during the holiday season.
5. DON’T BRING A NEW PUPPY HOME DURING THE HOLIDAY SEASON, IF IT CAN BE AVOIDED:
Most reputable breeders avoid placing their pups during the busy holiday season. It’s often too much stress for a new puppy to handle. Leaving litter mates and changing homes is already a big change, but having to deal with tons of new noises, sights, holiday sounds, and strangers all at once would be too much to ask. Please consider choosing a calmer time of year to bring home a puppy.
If you must have a puppy for a Christmas surprise, why not wrap a gift box filled with treasures, sort of like a “puppy trousseau”, with a note saying—“Precious puppy will be arriving soon!” Then fill the box with lots of fun items from your New Puppy Check List: i.e. fun squeaky toys, a plush printed pet blanket or bed, food and water bowl, and a colorful collar and leash. You can also offer a photo of the pup if the breeder has sent you one. I’m about 99.9% sure that everyone will be thrilled, and they’ll have permission to let loose and scream for joy!
Stay safe dear friends, and may your holiday season be a filled with fun-filled memories for all!
For more holiday pet safety tips, follow these links:
- Dog Anxiety: How to Recognize the Signs and Offer Relief
- Don’t Put a Puppy Under Your Tree
- Holiday Safety for Dogs
- Puppy proofing tips for your home
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Coming January 31, 2020, Pawz & Pray 2nd edition!
Pawz & Pray (2nd edition): Finding Joy in the Journey with God, Family, and Furry Friends! 130 Inspirational Stories and Devotionals for Dog Lovers.
“Leila’s book has been a true inspiration to me. It makes you focus on what’s really important in life. The author gives us great examples on how we can have a closer walk with God by following the lead that our pets give us in their everyday life. “Pawz & Pray” encourages us to put our worry and anxiety aside and take time to enjoy the things God has put right in front of us. This book has touched my heart in an indescribable way. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves animals and wants to have a closer connection to our Heavenly Father.”
– Holly Cornwell, Editor 2007 – June 2014, The Royal Spaniels
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