By: Melissa Kolmar, CPDT-KA, SBA
Here are our tips for a safe holiday with your dogs:
• Make sure your Christmas tree is anchored so it doesn’t tip or fall over. Also, prevent access to tree water, which can be a breeding ground for bacteria.
• Mistletoe and holly can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea if ingested.
• Tinsel can be harmful if ingested, as it can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting, dehydration and possible surgery. It’s a good idea to avoid using tinsel!
• Salt dough ornaments (which are commonly created in children’s classrooms) are toxic to dogs if consumed. Salt toxicity is a real risk due to the high salt content.
• Make sure that you store all sweets in a cabinet so your dog can’t get to it. I don’t recommend leaving it on the counter or table as many dogs will counter-surf for goodies. Chocolate and xylitol (artificial sweetener) are both toxic to dogs and can cause serious medical problems.
• Fatty and spicy foods, as well as bones, should not be fed to your dogs. Make sure the food is supervised when out on the counters and tables. Dogs are known to counter-surf when delicious food is available.
• Remind guests not to offer table scraps to your dog. Not only are some foods toxic, but if everyone is offering scraps your dog could get very sick!
• If you are hosting a large family gathering and can not supervise your dog, consider boarding them a reputable facility or staying at another friend’s house. Dogs can get overwhelmed in large gatherings (especially if there are lots of children present). If you are going to be hosting and won’t be able to actively manage your dog, it may be better for them to have a quieter venue. This is especially true for dogs who are fearful or shy of people.
• If your dog is going to be at home with your gathering, make sure they have a safe, quiet place to retreat to if they get overwhelmed or tired. This could be a crate, other room, exercise pen or bed. Make sure your guests know that if your dog goes to that spot, they should be left alone.
• On the morning of the holiday, make sure to physically and mentally wear your dog out. This can be a long walk paired with a food puzzle or a game of fetch paired with some nose work.
• Don’t let dogs have access to the front door as people are coming and going. Block access to the front door so your dog can’t escape when guests are coming and going. You can do this by crating your dog, keeping them in another room or putting an exercise pen or baby gate around your door so your dog can’t access it. If you have a lot going on, someone may miss your dog slipping out the door!
• Keep current ID tags on your dog. Make sure your dog is wearing a current ID tag with their name and your phone number. This is extremely important! If your dog gets loose, this is the fastest way to get them back to you! Also, make sure your dog’s microchip is up-to-date.
• Don’t force your dog to meet anyone. It should always be your dog’s choice as to whether or not they want to interact with someone. This means not letting people rush up into your dog’s space. If someone wants to greet your dog, ask them to stand at a distance with the side of their body facing your dog and their hand hanging at their side. Your dog can decide to approach and sniff the hand if they want to.