Christmas Dog Safety Tips
Updated: Jan 21
Christmas Dog Safety Tips
Try to imagine the holidays from your dog’s point of view.
Your house is changing on a daily basis.
Furniture is moved around.
Nothing is where it used to be.
There are strange trees and plants that used to be outside that now are inside.
There are new sounds and smells. Very little is familiar.
All sorts of new people are coming to the door, and some are even staying overnight. Yikes!
What’s a dog to do? Here are some Christmas dog safety tips so both your dog and you may enjoy this holiday season.
First, a couple of general tips:
KNOW WHERE YOUR DOG IS AT ALL TIMES.
SUPERVISE DOGS AND CHILDREN PLAYING TOGETHER.
Even if your dog is good with children and has never bitten, the added stress may be just enough for that first bite.
You and Your Family —
What you can do to make things go smoothly
Stay calm. You can get stressed out during the holidays, and your dog picks up on your stress. He looks to you as a leader. If you are calm, he is calm. And also try to spend a little quiet time with him every day – it will help you, too. Studies have proved that petting a dog calms both of you.
Review your dog’s basic obedience exercises daily. Don’t teach him something new, but reviewing what he already knows will reinforce you as a leader and someone he can trust.
Keep your dog’s regular daily routine as much as possible. Feed and walk him at the same times as you usually do. Changing his routine can make him stressful, and he can seek attention by misbehaving. According to your dog, any attention, even if you are screaming at him, is better than no attention.
Play with your dog before your party. If you tire him out, he’ll be too tired to get into any mischief when guests arrive. If that is not possible, hire a dog walker or take him to doggie daycare.
Find out the location of the nearest emergency vet in your area NOW. Don’t lose precious moments if there is an emergency.
The (delicious!) Holiday Food and Beverages
Don’t use toothpicks. Try not to use toothpicks for hors d’oeurves because your dog can eat the toothpicks if they are dropped on the floor and they can get stuck in his throat or puncture internal organs.
Be careful when you’re cooking and baking. If you are serving a roast and it is covered in a mesh that is soaked with the juices from the meat, your dog can eat that mesh, causing his intestines to twist so that he gets bloat where his stomach swells up like a balloon. If that happens, get him to a vet immediately. Bloat is 100% fatal without veterinary intervention. Don’t wait to see if he gets better by morning. By morning he will have died an agonizing death.
Put all garbage in cans that have dog-proof lids or that are behind locked doors.
If you bake or cook and leave things out to cool, put them way back on the countertops. If he steals food off countertops, try to deter him by putting double stick tape on the front and top of the counter so that when he puts his feet up, the tape will stick to the hair on his feet. Or you can get clear vinyl carpet runners and place them with the prong sides up along the countertops.
These deterrents may not work, so the best solution is not to let him in the kitchen at all.
And don’t let your dog eat anything but his food. If he eats turkey skin or bones, he can wind up with pancreatitis and you’ll be taking him to the emergency vet.
The Christmas Tree, Lights, and Decorations
The Tree: Choose the location for your Christmas tree carefully. Aside from the obvious reasons of not putting it near a fireplace and using lighted candles because of the fire danger, don’t put the tree in the window that your dog always looks out of because he will still try to look out of that window even with the tree there, and it can fall over.
You may want to tie the tree to a ceiling hook. Decorate the higher limbs and leave the lower ones bare, and make sure all ornaments are fastened tightly to the branches.
Change the water for the tree frequently. It can contain pine tar which is poisonous and if your dog drinks it, he can be in real trouble.
Decorations and ornaments: Keep all decorations, ornaments, ribbons, yarn, and wrapping paper out of your dog’s reach. If you use edible ornaments and decorations such as bread dough, popcorn, and gumdrops not only on your tree but also throughout your house, remember that they still are food to your dog, and the dough and paint you use on them can be toxic. Other ornaments such as angel hair and tinsel are also extremely dangerous if they are eaten, and they can also cause external cuts and scrapes especially to the mouth, eyes, and nose. If you put stockings on your mantle and fill them with food, your dog can still reach them. He’ll probably eat the stocking as well as the food. Don’t put gifts of food under the tree either for obvious reasons.
Plants: Almost all Christmas plants are thought to be poisonous: holly, mistletoe, ivy, Christmas cactus, and poinsettias. Keep them away from your dog. The phone numbers for the National Poison Control Center are 888-426-4435 and 900-680-0000
Lights: Unplug lights when you leave the house. Put a taste deterrent such as Bitter Apple or Tabasco sauce on the wires so your dog won’t be tempted to chew them. Also, encase the cords in some sort of a covering or behind heavy furniture.
Christmas Visitors, Delivery People, and Guests
Visitors and guests do pose some safety issues, especially if they smoke.
The Door: Be especially careful opening your front door when you are greeting guests and also with delivery people so your dog doesn’t dash out. Put him on a leash when you open the door.
Make sure he wears identification tags or is micro chipped so that if he does get out and gets lost, whoever finds him can locate you easily.
The Yard: This is also important if he is in the back yard during New Year’s Eve celebrations. The sound of fireworks may scare him, and he can jump the fence out of fear. Please keep your dog inside to prevent this from happening. Include your dog in the festivities, but be aware of where he is and let him have an escape route to a quiet place if he needs one.
Bring his bed in for him to lie on. Give him a toy or a doggie pacifier made out of a Kong, which is a bell-shaped rubber toy. Smear the inside with peanut butter or cream cheese and then pack the inside with a mixture of his favorite kibble and yummy smelly dog treats. You can freeze it before you give it to him so he can spend a long time trying to get all the goodies out of the Kong.
But watch him carefully. All the commotion and stress may make him possessive of his toys and he could snap at anyone who comes close to him.
Another solution is to put him in another room with the door closed. If this is the one you choose, then practice leaving him there before your party and if he is barking, don’t let him out until he is quiet. Make it as pleasant as possible for him, and don’t let it seem as though he is being punished. Put his bed and toys in there and make him a Kong doggie pacifier.
The Guests: Ask your guests not to feed your dog or let him drink any of their drinks. Tell them whatever you have to so that they will not feed him — that he has been sick and you must be very careful in what he is fed. If your guests absolutely must feed him something, give them some dog treats to give your dog, not table scraps.
A small amount of alcohol can put your dog in a coma. A drunken dog is not funny. Do you want to spend your holiday cleaning up after your dog or taking him to the emergency vet?
Ask smokers to be especially careful. Inadvertent gestures with a cigarette in their hand could have disastrous results. Or they may be talking and forget to flick the ashes off their cigarette, and the hot ash may fall on your dog and burn him.
With just a few simple precautions, your family and your animals can have a safe and enjoyable time. Have a wonderful holiday season!
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If you want to look at some very well-trained dogs, check this out — but be sure to come back to us when you’ve finished watching it!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUtPKbMwnRo
I hope you enjoyed these Christmas dog safety tips. I have many more safety tips for holidays and danger lurking around your house and yard in my veterinarian endorsed book Doggie Dangers. Check it out!
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Disclaimer: This article is for information only. It does not replace a consultation with a dog trainer, dog behavior consultant, or veterinarian and may not be used to diagnose or treat any conditions in your dog.
If you need help with puppy or dog training, we do both private in-person and virtual lessons via Zoom. Please contact us by calling or texting (310) 804-2392 or sending an email to caryl@DoggieManners.com . We look forward to working with you.