It’s time to deck the halls with boughs of holly…but should you? Whether you’re decorating the house, putting up a Christmas tree, or preparing your holiday feasts, make sure you keep everyone in your family safe. If a dog is part of your beloved pack, consider these dog safety tips during the holidays.
1. Keep Unsafe Food Out of Reach
Everyone knows chocolate is off-limits for dogs, but there are other foods you may never have guessed could be harmful. Any of these could cause your pooch weakness, upset stomach, dehydration, vomiting, tremors, and, in extreme cases, kidney failure. The list includes:
- Salty snacks
2. Secure Holly and Mistletoe Properly
If you hang holly or mistletoe, make sure it’s out of your pet’s reach and secure enough that it won’t fall down. If the leaves or berries get into the wrong paws, these festive plants could cause nausea as well as gastrointestinal and cardiovascular problems. If you’re hesitant about hanging real greenery, opt for faux instead.
3. Be Mindful of Pet Access to Your Christmas Tree
If your holiday decor includes a real tree, make sure your dog doesn’t have access to the water it stands in. The ASPCA says that as soon as you set the trunk into the water, it will catch all the fertilizers that were sprayed on the tree, which could cause your pet an upset stomach if she laps up the water. After some time, the water will also attract bacteria, which could result in your pup having nausea or diarrhea.
4. Avoid Tinsel for Pet Safety
It looks pretty on the tree, but if swallowed, tinsel can be hazardous to your dog, leading to digestive troubles and dehydration. In extreme cases, surgery may be necessary if the tinsel doesn’t find a natural way out.
5. Don’t Hang Your Christmas Lights Too Low
Lights are another tree decoration to be careful with. Go Christmas-light-crazy with most of your tree, but when you get toward the bottom, refrain. If strands hang too low, your dog could be tempted to chew on the wire and get an electrical shock as a result.
6. Keep the Air Fresh and Allergen Free
One of the drawbacks of owning a dog is the smell that oftentimes tags along. If you’re trying to get your home smelling fresh for guests, it’s okay to spray Febreze and another air freshener on your furniture and carpeting—but check with your vet first. Some brands can cause skin irritation and pet allergies.
7. Keep Wrapping Materials Off the Floor
When you’re ready to wrap gifts, make sure your pet keeps his distance from all materials: wrapping paper, tape, string, and plastic. If eaten, says PetMD, these can cause intestinal damage. On top of that, make sure to keep all materials off the floor while you’re not using them, especially scissors.
8. Prevent Your Dog From Stressing Out
We all get stressed on some level once the holidays roll around, and according to the American Humane Society, dogs are no exception. With disrupted household routines and the hustle and bustle of frequent guests, your dog can easily experience anxiety or stress.
The best way to prevent it is to reserve a room—such as the mudroom or laundry room—as a private getaway for your pet when there’s too much activity. Make sure to keep it comfortable and stocked with fresh food and water.