The holiday season is a time of joy, togetherness, and festive decorations. While we may love the holiday cheer, our dogs might not share our enthusiasm, especially when it comes to all the potential hazards that lurk around the house. To ensure your furry family members enjoy a safe and happy holiday season, it's essential to dog-proof your home. In this guide, we'll explore some Christmas safety tips for dogs, highlighting potential hazards such as decorations, toxic plants, and holiday foods.
Nine dog Christmas safety tips
1. Hanging ornaments and decorations
The glimmering ornaments and decorations on the Christmas tree may look like inviting playthings to your dog, but they can pose significant dangers. Be mindful of specific types like:
- Glass decorations: These can shatter, leading to cuts or, worse, ingestion of glass shards.
- Decorations with small, detachable parts: Exercise caution with decorations featuring small, detachable parts, as they can pose a choking hazard.
- Salt dough decorations: Homemade salt dough decorations, appealing to dogs due to their scent and texture, may not break into sharp pieces like glass but can cause serious digestive issues and harm if ingested; this is due to the large amounts of salt in them.
- Chocolate decorations: While the appeal of chocolate tree decorations is undeniable, resisting the urge to use them is crucial if you have a dog in the house. Chocolate is toxic to dogs, containing substances like theobromine that can lead to various health issues, including vomiting, diarrhoea, and, in severe cases, even seizures.
To keep your dog safe, consider the following:
- Hang delicate, breakable decorations higher up on the tree.
- Opt for dog-friendly, non-breakable decorations, such as plastic or wooden ones.
- Secure the tree to prevent it from toppling if your dog decides to investigate.
- Be vigilant regarding salt dough and chocolate decorations, ensuring they're safely out of your dog's reach to prevent ingestion, and even consider avoiding them on the tree altogether just in case.
- Consider restricting your dog's access to areas with numerous hanging decorations, such as around the Christmas tree.
2. Tinsel and ribbons
The shiny, metallic appeal of tinsel and the colourful ribbons used to wrap presents can be irresistible to dogs. However, ingesting these can cause intestinal blockages, choking or digestive problems. Keep these items out of reach and dispose of them properly so your dog doesn't get their paws on them.
3. String fairy lights and cords
Fairy lights are a staple in Christmas decorations but come with electrical cords that may attract a dog's curiosity. Ensure all cords are secure and out of your dog's reach to prevent chewing or entanglement, which can result in electrical shock or burns.
4. Dogs and Christmas trees
Christmas trees can be a source of endless fascination for dogs, which is understandable because it's not often they see a tree in the house. As a result, they may see it as an indoor toilet, something to climb on or to chew. Ensure you securely anchor your tree in its stand to prevent accidents and help prevent your dog from toppling the tree and potentially injuring themselves.
If you know your dog will be interested in the Christmas tree, I recommend supervision at all times and that you even consider restricting their access to it. You can achieve this by closing your dog out of the area where the Christmas tree is or erecting a pen around it to restrict access.
If you have a real tree, be aware that the water in the tree stand can be an unexpected temptation for dogs. This water may contain preservatives, additives, and bacteria from the tree, which can be harmful if ingested. Prevent your dog from drinking tree water by using a tree skirt or barrier, securely covering the stand, and even consider restricting their access to the tree.
5. Toxic plants
Certain plants commonly associated with the festive season are toxic to dogs. For example, if ingested, poinsettias, mistletoe, and holly can cause digestive upset, excessive drooling, vomiting, and more severe issues. Opt for artificial or safe, dog-friendly alternatives to decorate your home. If you have these plants, ensure they are well out of your dog's reach.
6. Christmas foods and treats
During the festive season, being aware of foods that can harm our dogs is crucial. Here are a few examples of toxic Christmas foods for dogs:
- Chocolate: Chocolate contains theobromine, a toxic substance to dogs. Dark chocolate, cocoa powder, and cooking chocolate have higher theobromine levels and can be especially dangerous. Keep all chocolate-based treats, including those in gift boxes and stockings, out of your dog's reach.
- Desserts and treats: Many festive desserts and treats, such as Christmas puddings, mince pies and Christmas cake, often contain currants, sultanas, raisins, and sometimes alcohol, all of which are harmful to dogs. Keep these treats out of your dog's reach to prevent accidental ingestion.
- Alcohol: Some festive recipes may include alcohol, and it's crucial to keep any alcoholic drinks away from dogs. Alcohol can cause intoxication, leading to vomiting, loss of coordination, seizures and even coma in severe cases.
- Fatty foods: Rich and fatty foods, such as turkey skin, gravy, and buttery dishes, can cause pancreatitis in dogs. Pancreatitis is a painful and potentially life-threatening condition that requires immediate veterinary attention.
- Cooked bones: Keep cooked bones out of your dog's reach and dispose of them properly. Cooked bones, like those from the turkey, can splinter and cause serious injuries to a dog's digestive tract. Ensure that you securely discard bones in a place your dog can't access, and consider disposing of them in an outdoor bin to prevent any late-night scavenging.
Always be cautious about what you share with your dog during the holidays, and keep festive foods out of their reach. Contact your vet immediately if you suspect your dog has ingested something toxic.
7. Gifts and presents
The joy of giving and receiving gifts is a significant part of Christmas for many. However, gifts under the tree can also be a source of intrigue for your dog. Dogs are well known for their exceptional smelling abilities, and they might detect tempting scents from wrapped presents under the tree. To ensure your dog's safety and the integrity of your gifts, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Food gifts: If you've received or wrapped food gifts, like chocolates, biscuits, or other treats, be especially cautious. Dogs can be incredibly resourceful when it comes to unwrapping presents, and the appeal of food can be hard to resist. Store these items in a place where your dog can't access them.
- Small or swallowable objects: Some gifts might contain small or potentially swallowable objects, including jewellery, small toys, or other trinkets. These pose choking hazards or can lead to digestive issues if ingested. Ensure these gifts are out of your dog's reach.
- Wrapping paper and ribbons: Dogs may find the colourful wrapping paper and ribbons on gifts intriguing. In their excitement, they could chew or ingest these items, which can lead to digestive problems. Keep gifts that have these materials out of your dog's reach.
It's a good idea to place gifts on higher surfaces, use baby gates to restrict access to the tree and presents, or even designate a separate area for your dog during gift exchanges. This way, you can enjoy the festivities without worrying about your dog getting into mischief or causing any harm to themselves.
8. Fire safety
The warmth of a crackling fire or the cosy ambience of candles can be an integral part of Christmas. However, it's crucial to ensure that these elements don't pose a risk to your dog. Here are some fire safety tips to keep in mind:
- Candles: Place candles out of your dog's reach, and always extinguish them when leaving a room. Consider using flameless, battery-operated candles as a safer alternative.
- Fireplaces: Ensure your fireplace has a secure screen or gate to prevent your dog from getting too close. Supervise them around the open flames and ensure you properly dispose of the ashes in a secure container.
By following these safety precautions, you can enjoy the warmth and glow of candles and fireplaces during the Christmas season while ensuring your dog's safety.
9. Give your dog a quiet, safe space
With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, giving your dog a quiet, safe space to retreat when they need a break from all the festivities is a good idea. Provide their crate, a cosy room, or a comfortable corner with their bed and favourite toys.
The holiday season should be a time of joy and togetherness for everyone in the family, including your dog. By following these Christmas safety tips for dogs, you can ensure that your home remains a safe and enjoyable environment for them during the festive season. You can deck the halls without hazards by dog-proofing your home and creating fantastic holiday memories with your beloved pup.
[ POSTED 01 DECEMBER 2023 ]