A Safe Home for the Holidays

A Safe Home for the Holidays
Dogs are creatures of habit. The holiday season can be a very stressful time for them. They like a daily routine... Eating the same food at the same time and regular walks or outdoor exercise. Dogs know just when to expect everyone in the family to come home to them each day.

Dogs thrive on attention from the people they love, but everyone has so much to do this time of year. Shopping trips, parties, and other holiday activities mean pets frequently spend extra time at home alone. Adjusting to all this change can be difficult for a dog.

Try to keep their schedule as consistent as possible. On days when you can't, taking a few minutes for belly rubs or some extra hugs will help.

Keep the safety of your pets in mind when decking the halls. Common ornaments and decorations that might seem harmless can be hazardous to teething pups and playful young dogs. Some foods that are perfectly safe for us can be poisonous to pets. Those forbidden foods, some traditional holiday plants and greenery, "edible" ornaments on a tree, gifts of food under a tree, or overeating can cause digestive problems ranging from minor tummy-aches to life threatening emergencies.

Even with the best of care, some accidents are unavoidable and pets sometimes become ill. You probably have your veterinarian's phone number handy, but will they be there on holidays or holiday weekends? Know the location and phone number for the closest emergency pet hospital too.

Friends, Food and Full Tummies
If you have a dog you probably know that bones, especially from ribs, chops and poultry can cause choking, and life threatening obstruction or perforation of a dogs intestinal tract. Do your guests know that?

Consuming excessive amounts of fat can also cause serious problems. Eating the skin and fat from holiday turkeys, hams, etc. can cause stomach upset, vomiting and diarrhea, even painful conditions like inflammation of the pancreas. Acute pancreatitis requires hospitalization and fluid replacement. It can quickly become fatal.

Gulping down food and water, followed by running or vigorous activity and over-eating, combined with excitement or anxiety can cause bloat. Bloat is a deadly gastric condition that's usually associated with large breeds, but smaller dogs can also become victims.

Protect your dog from dreaded holiday food related disasters,....

  • In a house full of unsuspecting guests, a clever dog can beg and steal alot of normally forbidden food in a short time. Ask guests not to share food with your dog, no matter how cute, hungry and pitiful he looks.

  • Don't feed a dog that's excited and nervous. If door bells and visitors are routine triggers for some craziness, don't feed your dog just before guests are expected,

  • Don't allow vigorous activities right before or right after your dog's mealtime.

  • Dogs should never have alcoholic beverages. Don't let dogs roam freely when alcoholic beverages might be sitting on a table within reach, during or after a party. Though ill effects might be minor in a large dog, one ounce of a 20 to 40 proof alcoholic beverage can cause alcohol poisoning or coma in a small dog.

  • Keep baking chocolate out of reach....
    You probably know that chocolate is toxic to dogs, but did you know that the toxicity depends on the amount of theobromine it contains? Depending on a dog's size, eating a small bar of milk chocolate could cause stomach upset and diahhrea. Eating the same size bar of baking chocolate could kill. The amount of theobromine in semi-sweet and unsweetened dark chocolate used for baking is much higher than in milk chocolate!

  • Other foods that should never be given to dogs - Onions, grapes, raisins and macadamia nuts.

  • Make sure your children know what foods can harm their pets and that they know the consequences.
    Pointsettias, Mistletoe and Holly
    Be extra careful about where you place them. Keep holiday plants out of a dog's reach. To a puppy, or a playful and curious young dog, a plant or a basket of holly might look like something fun to play to with, but many holiday flowers, plants, and greens are toxic to pets. Remember to pick up any leaves, blooms and berries that have fallen and remove any withered or dried matter that might soon fall off.

    Poinsettias were once thought to be highly poisonous. The toxicity of poinsettias is actually quite low but ingesting the leaves or flowers can cause stomach upset and skin, eye and mucous membrane irritation.

    The berries of some varieties of holly are toxic. They can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and possible central nervous system depression. Keep holly out of reach and pick up fallen berries immediately. If berries are ingested, induce vomiting as soon as possible and seek medical attention.

    Certain varieties of mistletoe contain toxins that can cause stomach and intestinal irritation, diarrhea, and a decrease in blood pressure and pulse. Some veterinarians recommend that vomiting be induced following ingestion of mistletoe leaves, stems, or berries.

    Christmas cactus can cause upset stomach, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea.

    Eating Amaryllis bulbs can cause vomiting, collapse, and respiratory distress and can be fatal, especially in puppies and very old dogs.

    If you think your dog may have eaten parts of a toxic plant, call your veterinarian. Even normally non-toxic plants can make a dog sick if they've recently been sprayed with chemical pesticides. Possible symptoms are excessive salivation, runny nose, watery eyes, skin rash, breathing or swallowing difficulties, vomiting or convulsions.

    The Christmas Tree

    Use a sturdy tree stand. Use thin green craft wire or heavy fishing line to anchor a very large tree to a wall or ceiling to prevent it from tipping over. Don't add aspirin or chemical preservatives to your tree's water. Use a heavy tree skirt to cover the tree stand. Be extra mindful of always having water in your dog's bowl to discourage drinking water from the Christmas tree.

    Don't use food as ornaments or ornaments made with food ingredients on your tree. Dogs have died from salt poisoning after eating ornaments made from homemade craft dough containing high levels of salt. Don't use popcorn garland to decorate your Christmas tree. In an attempt to eat the popcorn garland, dogs have been known to undecorate a tree. (I tell you this from past experience.)

    Hang breakable ornaments high on the tree out of a dog's reach.

    Don't use strands of tinsel. They can cause major intestinal damage if swallowed.

    Unless it's specifically labeled non-toxic and safe for use around pets, don't use spray-on snows or flocking on a Christmas tree. They are respiratory irritants when inhaled and they can cause stomach upset if ingested.

    Don't leave electric wires dangling where a curious pup can become tangled in them. Fasten cords from light strings together, well inside the tree, out of sight and out of reach. Cover cords leading to outlets with a tree skirt.

    Other Holiday Decorations
    Secure electic window candles to sills and tape cords below the windows. To prevent a pet from chewing on cords from Christmas lights and electric decorations, inside and out, cover or hide the cords. Use extension cords when needed to run cords along walls and baseboards to prevent entanglement.

    Don't use angel hair. It's made of spun fiber-glass, which is a skin and eye irritant. It can cause tiny cuts and eye damage.

    Place lighted candles where they can't be knocked over. Be especially careful when burning candles around curious pups and dogs with large happy tails. Besides the obvious fire danger, spilled hot wax can burn skin. Never leave lighted candles unattended. Extinguish all lighted candles before leaving the house, even for a few minutes.

    On Christmas morning
    Don't leave gifts of food under a Christmas tree, before or after presents have been opened. A dog can smell things that you cannot. Whether its pet treats, a box of chocolates, or a tray of bologna and cheese, dogs know when a wrapped package contains food.

    Gift bows, stings, etc. can cause choking. Don't give your dog the opportunity to play with ribbons, tape or wrapping paper, which can cause choking and serious intestinal problems. Don't allow kids to tie ribbons or bows around a dogs neck .

    Put toys away after they are opened. Have children put new toys and games, including all the small pieces, back in their boxes. Chewing on small toys can cause choking and intestinal obstruction. (In addition to making a child very unhappy because new toys are ruined.)

    Keep batteries for new Christmas toys out of a dog's reach. Batteries contain corrosives that can cause ulceration to the mouth, tongue, and gastrointestinal tract.

    Thinking about a new puppy under your Christmas tree?
    Please reconsider... See "A Christmas Puppy"

    Be ready for cold weather - Keep your dogs safe and warm this winter -
    See "Chilly Dogs"

    80% of pet owners give their pets holiday or birthday gifts.

    62% of U.S. dog owners sign their cards and letters from themselves and their dogs.

    33% of U.S. dog owners say that they talk to their dogs on the phone or leave messages for them on an answering machine.

    We sure do appreciate all that love!!!

    Avoid holiday crowds... Shop online for gifts for the pets and pet lovers on your list....

    See Gifts for Dog Lovers
    for dog breed figurines, shirts, afghans, books and more!

    Great Gifts for your pets at JB Pets!


    Hug Your Dogs! Have a wonderful Holiday Season!

  • You Should Also Read:
    Chilly Dogs
    Christmas Gifts for Dog Lovers
    Dogs Holiday Shopping Guide

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