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Ten Tips For Keeping Your Dog Safe Happy and Healthy During the Holidays

Updated: Dec 10, 2019

Its holiday season and between baking, decorating, parties and gift giving there can be a lot going on. There is enough to stress you out, let alone your dog. With all the hubbub, it's easy for your dog to get stressed or get themselves into trouble. Here are some tips to keep them happy and healthy during the holiday season, no matter which one you celebrate.

1. Minimize Travel Stress

November and December are two of the most popular travel months. If you are able to bring your dog with you, keep in mind that many dogs get stressed when they travel to a new place and get out of their normal routine. Try to keep to their normal routine as much as possible and use their normal things to make it a little easier on them. For example, if they normally sleep on a dog bed next to you at night, bring it along with you so they have a familiar place to sleep. Also try to feed them at their normal time, try to keep to their walking schedule and bring a couple of their favorite toys. Try to make the whole experience a fun one by giving them special treats, like a stuffed Kong, and giving them lots of play time.

2. Pet Proof Your Holiday Plants

Many of the typical holiday plants are toxic to dogs if ingested, so make sure that you keep them safe. Especially holly and mistletoe. They are highly toxic and can be very dangerous if ingested, so make sure that you keep them out of reach if you do choose to decorate with them. Poinsettia are less dangerous, but can still cause upset stomachs, so it is best to keep poinsettia off the floor. The oils from pine trees can cause diarrhea and the needles can cause a blockage. So cover the water dish to keep your dog from drinking it, and pick up pine needles often, and your Christmas tree should be o.k. But if your dog is a big chewer you may need to create a boundary around your tree, get a fake tree, or get a smaller tree that you can raise off the ground.

3. Decorate Carefully

When you decorate, try to look through your dogs eyes and adjust accordingly. Some decorations dogs might think are toys and you run the risk of them getting torn up. You may want to put these a little higher so that you don't come home to your decorations all over the floor. Some examples are pine cones, stuffed decorations, and some ornaments. Food decorations should be completely out of reach so that your dog doesn't eat something they shouldn't and get sick. Don't forget about those baked cookie and macaroni ornaments. Some decorations like fake snow, are toxic if your dog eats them.

4. Be careful with Candles and Fires

There is nothing like the warm glow from candles or a toasty warm fire crackling away in a fire place. But both can be a hazard to your pet and your home. Never leave them lit when you are not home. Make sure that all candles are on a solid surface, so if your dog bumps against the table, they won't fall over. Place a fire screen in front of the fire to keep them from snuggling up too close and burning themselves.

5. Keep Doors Closed

If you are having friends and family over, make sure that everyone is careful to keep the doors closed so that your dog doesn't get out. With so many people, it is easy for someone to not close the door all the way or stand in the doorway and your dog slip around them. If your dog is prone to slipping out you may want to take precautions such as blocking the entrance with a baby gate or keeping your dog in a different part of the house.

6. Don't Give Your Dog Holiday Treats

I don't mean a special holiday treat made for dogs, I mean all the yummy holiday goodies that end up in your house around the holidays. Cookies may have artificial sweeteners that are toxic for dogs, stuffing may have grapes or raisins, and the alcohol in that egg nog is no good. Play it safe and keep all human food out of the reach of your dogs.

7. Create a Safe Space During Parties

Not every dog is a socialite. So make a safe space for your dog to retreat to if they are getting stressed. Give them something soft to lay on, some water and something to chew on. Make sure that it is somewhere away from your guests like a bedroom or office. A place where your dog normally hangs out is best as they may already see it as a relaxing space. Just make sure it isn't where coats and purses are being left. Make your guests aware, that if your dog retreats to this room, don't follow. Your dog may not appreciate being followed into their safe space, especially children.

8. Wrap and Unwrap Gifts Safely

Be smart when you are wrapping and unwrapping gifts. Many dogs love to tear apart paper, so make your life a little easier by keeping wrapping paper picked up. Also many kinds of wrapping paper have glitter or shiny coatings that make the paper pretty, but can make your dog sick if they swallow it. Be especially careful with ribbon and string. While is seems harmless, if swallowed it could easily create a dangerous blockage in their intestines.

9. Prepare for Fireworks

Fireworks can be very scary for dogs, they are loud and, if they are close enough, can cause painful pressure on their eardrums. If you would like more detail on how to train your dog to cope with loud noises, visit my post on How to Keep Your Dog Calm During Fireworks. In the meantime, here are some quick solutions that can help reduce their fear, though they will not completely resolve them of their anxiety. You may need to try a few of these until you find one that works for your dog. Thunder shirts are essentially a compression band that help reduce anxiety. Some people have success with placing a couple drops of lavender essential oil on their dogs collar. If it is legal in your state, some dogs respond well to getting CBD oil before the fireworks start. If your dogs fear is severe, you can speak to your vet about getting a dose or two of a prescription anti-anxiety medication ahead of time.

10. Avoid Confetti

Plastic confetti can make your pets sick. It's hard to find and pick up all those little pieces, so your dog may find them long after New Years. If swallowed, they can cause blockages or give your dog diarrhea. So it's best to avoid throwing it on New Years. Some other options that are safer for your pets are compostable options or blowing bubbles.

Follow these tips to keep your dog happy and healthy during the holiday season. Our pets are part of our families too, so we want to make sure that they are enjoying themselves as much as we are.

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