Put Safety before Festive Fun

Pumpkins, tombstones, skeletons and witches mean that Halloween is close at hand. If you survive that, it’s on to the next in a string of holidays; Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas and New Year’s. Whether you embrace the festivities, or run screaming from an army of relatives who invade your peaceful home, remember that the holidays pose special risks to your dog.


By paying attention to a few basic safety precautions, you can keep your canine companion out of harm’s way and have a safe and happy holiday season.

Halloween Safety

It’s become a tradition in many households to take the family dog trick-or-treating in the neighborhood at Halloween. Your pal will certainly enjoy the camaraderie of the outing, but it’s best if he doesn’t partake of any candy or chocolate. Chocolate is poisonous to dogs, and (just like kids) sugar is bad for their teeth. If you think your dog will feel left out of the festivities, compensate by taking along a little bag of his favorite biscuits and treat him along the way. If you are planning to hand out candy to neighborhood kids, keep some doggy treats handy at your front door for the neighborhood pets that come along.

Don’t let your children be allowed to take charge of a dog during Halloween outings. There are far too many distractions and holding a flashlight and a candy bag is probably all they can handle. Make sure your dog is on a strong leash with an adult on the other end and don’t allow your doggy pal to accompany children right up to the front door. You never know, there could be a dog on the other side that might not appreciate a canine stranger on her doorstep.

As always, your dog should never leave home without his collar and his ID tag. And for taking walks at night—with or without the goblins—you can get him a flashing tag or collar cover so that he’s easier to see in the dark. When you get back home, be sure to remove the flashing accessories and store them somewhere safely out of your pet’s reach. While the glow-in-the-dark liquid is usually not highly toxic, your pal could choke on the tag or suffer gastrointestinal irritation if he swallows it and the liquid leaks out.

Candles and Decorative Holiday Lighting

Some dogs find the opportunity to gnaw on a pumpkin irresistible. Though it may seem strange, this activity is not a problem in itself, but make sure there aren’t any decorative candles inside – especially a lit candle! It’s also imperative to ensure that he doesn’t chew decorative lights or electrical cords; he could cut or burn his mouth or even be electrocuted. When it comes to putting up Christmas tree lights (or other holiday lights), always look for the shortest route to the plug point and avoid leaving excess wiring lying on the floor.

If you have an inquisitive dog, try to avoid tempting her when decorating your Christmas tree. Put glass ornaments and tinsel at a height level she can’t reach when standing. If you want to keep her away altogether, simply sprinkle pepper under the tree and on the lower branches. After a few sneezes she’ll know to keep her distance.

Festive Feasts

The holiday season is synonymous with family feasts—huge stuffed turkeys, corn on the cob and tempting desserts. Never feed your pal turkey bones (or any other bones from the table) bones are a choking hazard as are corn cobs. When putting away the leftovers, be careful he doesn’t get a hold of anything wrapped in aluminum foil. If eaten, foil can cut a dog’s intestines, causing internal bleeding, and, in some cases, even death. Plastic wrap is equally dangerous and can cause choking or intestinal obstructions.

The moniker “Drink responsibly” also applies to taking care of your dog. Alcoholic beverages can be poisonous to pets, so never leave drinks unattended. If she consumes them, your dog could become very intoxicated and weak, depressed, or even go into a coma.  In severe cases, death from respiratory failure can also occur.

Holiday Plants

Nothing is more festive than the decking the halls, but remember that both holly and mistletoe are toxic to pets and can cause acute stomach and intestinal irritation, cardiovascular collapse, and death. Despite the myths, the ever popular Christmas poinsettias are considered safe for pets. Even so, try to keep them away from both pets and children because the milky sap can cause skin allergies and has a terrible bitter taste.

Home Alone

Finally, if you plan to travel during the season and are unable to take your pal with you, don’t leave him alone at home with a stocked-up food bowl. Make arrangements with a pet sitter or check him into a pet hotel. Once again, make sure his ID tag is where it should be – around his neck – and that the information is current. Better yet, if you do get time off from work and don’t plan to go away, use it to spend quality time together.

Best wishes to you and your four-legged friends for a safe and merry holiday season!

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