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the Dog Blog

Tips for Keeping Your Dog Safe Through the Howlin' Holidays and New Year

Woman keeping her dog safe while they enjoy the holidays.

The holidays are an exciting time for both humans and our furry family members. After all, your dog shares your experiences and feelings. Between the hustle and bustle, gift wrapping, decorating, and parties, it’s important to make sure we are keeping our pets safe during the holiday season. Here are nine holiday safety tips to help keep your best friend safe during this wonderful time of year.

1. Don’t give human food to your dog

Generally speaking, many things we eat, drink or snack on over the holidays can be toxic to dogs. Some common holiday food can be anything from nauseating to downright dangerous, including:

  • Alcoholic beverages

  • Avocados

  • Candy or gum containing Xylitol as an artificial sweetener

  • Chocolate

  • Coffee and caffeine

  • Grapes and raisins

  • Macadamia nuts

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Onions, garlic and chives

  • Bones and raw or undercooked meat and eggs

  • Salty snacks

  • Yeast dough

Even if your furry friend begs with those hard-to-resist puppy dog eyes, your safest bet is to ask your human guests not to give your dog ANY food or beverage treats. Instead, have some dog treats available that you and your quests can give your dog for good behavior, such as Bil-Jac Treats.

2. Be careful around the tree

Oh, Christmas tree! Oh, Christmas tree! Oh, please be careful around the tree. Your tree is so pretty when it’s all lit up and decorated. Just make sure you’ve taken the proper precautions.

  • Tie or tape down all electrical cords to prevent chewing, tripping and electrical hazards. 

  • Trees can topple over easily, especially when you have a rambunctious or big dog. Make sure your tree is firmly secured (stand, wall, etc) or try encircling your tree with gift boxes or an exercise pen, especially if your dog is a little nosy about the tree.

  • Keep light strings and breakable ornaments off the lower branches where they are easy for pets to grab with their mouths. Remember, they love shiny!

  • Tinsel, popcorn strands and other garland-like tree decorations may cause issues, like choking, if ingested.

  • Drinking from the live tree water basin is a no-no. Additives in the water, as well as sap that leaks from the tree into the water, can make your pets sick. Covering the bowl with a plastic bag, tree skirt or other deterrent that is secured well will help discourage an interested pet. Keeping your tree in a corner can help make it less accessible.

  • Ribbons, string, and other wrapping accessories can be a choking hazard if they are left lying around. You may opt to skip these all together or be sure to dispose of them in a trash bag as soon as gifts are unwrapped.

3. Fake it to make it through the holidays

If your dog is particularly curious, you may want to use an artificial tree instead of a real one. You may also want to avoid certain holiday plants, such as mistletoe, holly and poinsettias, as they can present many dangers to dogs.

  • Holly may cause vomiting and gastrointestinal issues.

  • Mistletoe may cause gastrointestinal and cardiovascular problems if ingested.

  • Poinsettia sap is mildly toxic and can make your dog sick.

If you choose to go with a real Christmas tree and/or holiday plants, make sure to keep them out of reach or create a barrier around them.

4. Wrap gifts wisely

What are you going to give your dog this holiday season? If you choose to wrap gifts for your four-legged friend, don’t use any ribbon or decorations and be sure to throw away the wrapping paper as soon as the treasure is retrieved.

5. Avoid dog-endangering holiday decorations

When you decorate your home for Christmas, make sure you avoid any holiday decorations that could endanger your dog.

  • Avoid liquid-filled snow globes. Some are still made of glass, which can be dangerous if broken. Others are made of plastic, which creates dangerous shards when chewed. The liquid inside can contain chemicals, which can be poisonous for your pooch.

  • Scented candles can attract dogs because of their smell, taste and texture. Keep them out of reach on high shelves, and don’t let them burn unsupervised. A wagging tail could send them toppling to the floor.

6. Keep an eye on the door

If you’re hosting a holiday party, consider keeping your dog away from the front door when guests are coming and going—especially if your dog tends to run out the door the first chance they get. If you have an escape artist, you may want to have your dog wait in their crate or in a secured room until all your guests have arrived. Just in case your dog gets out of the house, always make sure they’re wearing their collar and dog tag.

7. Be mindful of your guests

Just like humans, some dogs are extroverts, and some are introverts. While some dogs enjoy meeting new people, others may get nervous and scared.

  • Set up a quiet, safe room with fresh water and a place for your dog to relax away from your guests.

  • If your dog is unfamiliar with your guests, be sure to quietly introduce them once the initial excitement of them arriving is over. Share any specific rules or concerns about your dog that you would like your visitors to know.

  • Have a place where your guests can put purses, coats and packages out of your dog’s reach. This also includes food tables and plates, beverages and—for guests spending the night—medications.

  • If your guests are drinking alcohol, remind them to watch where they put their drinks, especially if you have a curious dog. Even just a few slurps of red wine can be dangerous for your dog.

  • Stay-over guests and even simple parties can disrupt your dog’s routine. Try to maintain regular meal schedules and walks, exercise or play sessions.

  • Some guests may not be comfortable around dogs. Talking cues from your guests when they arrive, and making sure your dog doesn’t overwhelm them, is a thoughtful thing to keep in mind.

8. Don’t be gone too long

From company holiday parties to get-togethers with friends and family, there may be times when your best friend is left alone a little longer than normal. A change in schedule like this may cause stress and nervousness. If possible, plan ahead for these types of events. If you have to go straight to company party after work, for example, ask a friend or neighbor to care for your dog during that time.

9. Ring in the New Year responsibly

Loud noises can be very scary to pets and could cause damage to sensitive ears. Remember: Dogs hear at very different frequencies than humans and high-pitch sounds can be uncomfortable and painful to your furry friend.

  • Skip the noisemakers if you have a sensitive dog.

  • Be aware that someone in the neighborhood might set off some fireworks at midnight. Be ready to comfort your dog with a firm hug if it happens.

Here’s the doggone truth: Your dog doesn’t give a woof that it’s the holiday season—your dog just loves being with you. Your dog will enjoy the festivities safely with you if you just take a few pet safety precautions. As long as you keep your dog calm and safe, you and your best friend will have a happy holiday season.

For more pet safety tips and other information articles for a happy and healthy pooch, join the Best Friends Club today.

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