Halloween can be a scary time for dogs. But not as scary as Thanksgiving and Christmas. All these holidays involve chocolate, which can be deadly for canines. Add in holiday parties, rigorous baking, heavy foods, and crowds of people in your home. Here are some hazards to watch out for and suggestions for keeping your dog safe when entertaining over the holidays.
Dressing Up Should Be Fun for All
Sure, your dog or cat may look adorable in a cute costume or holiday sweater…but do they love it as much as you do? Holidays can be confusing and scary for our pets.
If you plan on dressing your dog up, make sure they think it’s fun too! Watch for signs of stress or fear, such as shaking or other nervous behavior. Costumes can be heavy and hot to wear, make sure your pet is always comfortable and not overheating. Maybe have them wear a costume for the beginning of your party, take lots of photos, and then remove the costume and let them enjoy the fun!
Holiday decorations give our homes a festive look during the holidays, but they can also be dangerous for dogs. “When you bring plants into the house, it’s important to know what you’re bringing in before an animal can get to it,” advises Dr. Tina Wismer, Medical Director of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.
Keep dogs away from poinsettias, holly, and mistletoe. Holly and mistletoe are toxic for pets if ingested. And while poinsettias aren’t deadly, it’s still best to keep animals away from the plant. Wismer says munching on a few leaves can lead to an upset stomach. Tinsel and other sparkly ribbons and decorations can also pose a choking hazard for both dogs and cats. Wismer advises against putting tinsel on Christmas trees or using ribbons on presents.
No matter how much your dog looks up at you with pleading eyes, resist the urge to feed them table scraps or turkey bones. Turkey bones are dangerous. A brittle, spiky bone can irritate your dog’s stomach, or worse, become lodged in your pet’s esophagus. Remember to put your leftovers away immediately following your parties. Pets are not shy about grabbing any food that’s within reach. Those leftovers can lead to doggie diarrhea or vomiting.
Instruct all guests NOT to feed Fido! Well-meaning friends will often offer your dog a treat, hoping to make friends with him. If this is a problem, consider putting your dog in a separate room during all parties.
Chocolate and Other Sweets
Dog owners know how toxic chocolate is for dogs. Dr. Leni Kaplan, a veterinarian with the Cornell University Hospital for Animals, says cookies can be just as dangerous. “Restrict access to holiday snacks and treats like chocolate, coffee, caffeine, macadamia nuts, grapes, raisins, and any food items containing xylitol, which are toxic to pets and potentially lethal at any time of the year.” Dough containing yeast is also a no-no for dogs and can lead to bloating.
Dog-proof Your Home
Take the trash out immediately following holiday dinners or gatherings. Some dogs will wait until the fun is over to rummage through the garbage, and they might stumble upon leftovers that could make them sick. If guests are staying with you for the holidays, make sure any medications they bring along are safely stored. Dogs are curious and might go sniffing around open suitcases that could have medications inside.
Your yard should also be a safe haven for your animals. Take the necessary steps before the holidays to pet-proof your backyard. Make sure the fence is secure. It’s not unusual for dogs to run off during the holiday ruckus. Keep all trash cans tightly closed!
Holidays Can Be Stressful for Dogs
The holiday rush can be stressful for dogs who are not accustomed to all the people and excitement. Designate a quiet room where they can relax, or put them in their crate with their favorite toys to help keep them calm. Add microchipping to your holiday to-do list if you haven’t done it already. With all the people coming opening and closing your doors — your four-legged family member could easily slip out and wander off. Microchipping and identification tags boost the chance of you finding them quickly.