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9 tips to keep your dogs safe this holiday season

9 tips to keep your dogs safe this holiday season

How to dog-proof your house this Christmas

For many of us, Christmas and New Years are the prime time of year to enjoy some time with those we love and that includes our dogs.

Most dog lovers also have more time to spend with their dogs at this time of year. While the holidays are mostly fun, they can still bring us some challenges, for example keeping your dog safe. 

That's exactly what this article is about.

1. Dog-proof your Christmas tree

Decorating a Christmas tree is a fun family tradition, but they can create a hazard for dogs. 

Your dog might be curious about the new addition so make sure it’s secure and can’t be accidentally knocked over because your dog could be seriously hurt.

Some dogs may require a protective barrier, such as a dog fence or baby gate, around the Christmas tree to stop dogs from getting too close. 

Your dog may be attracted to shiny objects so make sure tinsel and ornaments are above doggie level. Eating tinsel, ornaments, Christmas lights and other decorations is dangerous for dogs. If your dog eats something they aren’t supposed to please read this article for more information. If your dog has eaten something like a glass ornament or anything else that could injure them or shows signs of distress, he or she will need to see a veterinarian immediately.

2. Christmas plants are poisonous to dogs

Perhaps you love to decorate your homes with poinsettias, holly and mistletoe. If you do, remember these plants are toxic so you need to keep them out of your dog’s reach. If you see any evidence these plants have been chewed on, call your veterinarian immediately for further instructions.

3. A few suggestions about candles

Most dogs are afraid of flames, however, if your dog is extra inquisitive or moves fast, he or she could be burned or knock over a candle with their tail, creating a fire hazard. 

I suggest you use battery-operated candles in places your dog could reach.  

4. Christmas presents for our dog ‘kids’

With so many dog toys and treats on the market, it’s hard to know what to choose and to find healthy and safe gifts for our dogs. The biggest problem is toxins in plastic and one of the prime examples are BPA’s

If you are planning to buy toys for your dog, I like to use toys made of non-toxic, ‘baby safe' materials that are durable and made of natural materials. 

The most dangerous toys are the cheap, plastic ones made in China, where the absence of regulations poses a serious danger to your dog’s health. Watch for toys that have pieces that can be broken off and swallowed.

5. Food

From what I’ve seen in practice, most people love preparing a special holiday dinner for their dogs. Just try to stick to healthy, species-appropriate choices. Turkey and vegetables are a good way to share Christmas dinner with your dog. 

6. Chocolate, raisins and treats

There are not many people who don’t love chocolate and dogs are not much different. Perhaps you know chocolate is toxic to dogs, but if you don’t, please make sure you keep it safely out of reach (or eat it before your dog does ;-)

Raisins are another dangerous item on the list of food that is toxic to dogs. The ingestion of even a small amount of raisins may sometimes lead to irreversible kidney failure. I remember my friend’s dog Lucy eating a whole bunch of chocolate raisins and ending up with acute kidney disease. Lucky for her, we caught the problem early enough to reverse her condition. 

When it comes to real dog treats, I like to make them at home. Store-bought dog treats usually come with unknown ingredients and how they are kept fresh.

My suggestion is not to buy anything that sits on a shelf without rotting, with the exception of locally-made and dehydrated meat or vegetables that are suitable for dogs.

Any preserved smoked bones, rawhide treats or anything with wild colours should be off the list, not just around Christmas time but all the time.  

7. Exercise

Most people enjoy Christmas because we can spend time with family and friends, eating delicious food which can result in a few extra pounds under our belt.

I’ve noticed many dogs get out less in the winter, which makes them more prone to weakness and injuries by the time spring comes. That’s why it’s super important to maintain your dog’s exercise levels and routine all year, including Christmas.

If you live in a snow-covered region, make sure you don’t let your dog pull you on skates, skis or a sled by a leash attached to a collar. Yes, I’ve seen this many times and it hurts knowing that these dogs will likely have shortened lifespan due to injuries.

There are two articles you may want to read: 

Dogs and the role of collar injuries in hypothyroidism

Why collars can cause a lot of damage to your dog

If your dog pulls or not, a safe harness and gentle leash to avoid neck injuries are one of the most important parts of good health and longevity. 

Perhaps these two items may be one of the gifts for your dog or a friend’s dog.

Check them out here.

8. Create a safe zone for your dog during holiday parties

Not all dogs love parties, crowds and meeting new people and some of them get very stressed. If that's the case with your dog, it’s good to plan ahead and create a safe place at home, perhaps put them in a quiet room or allow “Fido” to have a snooze on your bed. 

9. Fireworks

I hear it over and over that dogs get fearful and anxious around holidays, such as Christmas, New Years and Halloween. If your dog is afraid of loud noises, you can use the homeopathic remedy Aconite 200C and/or Bach Flower Rescue Remedy drops to calm your dog down.  

Some people turn on the radio or TV to mask outside noise. You can also give your dog a favourite bone to chew on. Click here to learn which bones are safe for your dog. 

Wishing you and your dog merry and safe holidays!

© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM

About the author

Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM is an Integrative veterinarian, nutritionist and creator of natural supplements for dogs and people. Helping you and your dog prevent disease, treat nutritional deficiencies, and enjoy happier, healthier, and longer lives together.

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