The holidays are a fun time for your dog filled with new smells, sights and sounds. Due to the busy nature of the holidays, owners can be easily distracted and over look potential dangers to your best friend. Many symbols of the holidays we bring into our homes pose a danger but that doesn’t mean we need to forego participating in the festivities. We just need to be aware of the holiday hazards for your dog and take precautions.
- Christmas Trees
Dogs love to chew on items and the Christmas tree may look like the best chew toy to your dog. Needles from the tree are not digestible, irritating to the mouth and stomach and can be slightly toxic depending on the size of your dog and the amount consumed. Artificial trees also pose a problem with age. They become brittle and small pieces of plastic or aluminum may break off and be ingested by your dog leading to irritation or possible intestinal blockage. Be cautious and do not allow your dog to drink the tree water. The water can have preservatives, pesticides, fertilizer and other agents such as aspirin that help keep the tree fresh thru the holiday season.
Solution: Install a baby gate in the doorway to prevent entry for your dog into the room with the tree. Another option is a low-lattice fencing around the tree and securing it so your dog can’t knock it over. When not at home to supervise your dog place your dog in a crate or separate room to keep him out of trouble. To discourage your dog from drinking the water from the tree stand a covered tree stand will give you the safety needed.
- Holiday Plants (ranked from most to least toxic)
Lilies, Amaryllis, and other plants in the lily family – All parts of these plants are toxic, including the pollen. Ingesting the plant has been linked to kidney failure, cardiac issues, and gastrointestinal signs and death.
Mistletoe – Is very toxic to animals. Ingestion may cause vomiting, severe diarrhea, difficulty breathing, shock and death within hours of ingestion
Holly – The berries and leaves of many species of holly may also be poisonous. Signs of poisoning are generally mild and include vomiting, stomach pain, and diarrhea.
Poinsettias – Are not very toxic to pets but do contain a milky sap that can irritate their mouths. Signs of ingestion are usually mild.
Solution: It is safest to not have poisonous plants in the house with pets. If you decide to have holiday plants as decorations keep them out of reach of your dog and watch for any evidence of damage to the plants.
- Electric lights and wires
Electrical wires are temptations for dogs to chew on which can lead to electrocution, serious burns, unconsciousness, and death.
Solution: Conceal all wires with pet-proof covers or firmly tape cords to the wall or floor with electrical tape. If you pet has a habit of chewing on items, not placing lights on the bottom of your tree is a good idea.
Many dogs have happy, wagging tails that can accidentally get near a lit candle left on a low table. Candles can lead to burns or can be knocked over creating a fire hazard. The holiday season is an important time to make sure your carbon monoxide and fire detectors are working.
Solution: It is safest to not have candles in the reach of your dog, where they can be knocked over by happy, wagging dog tails. If you decide to have candles as decorations keep them as far out of reach of your dog.
Inexpensive ornaments may contain heavy metals or other dangerous material that if chewed on can be toxic. Any ornamentation ingested, including tinsel and hooks, can lead to intestinal blockage including.
Solution: If your dog enjoys chewing on objects not decorating the tree at the level where your dog has access to the ornaments/hooks/tinsel is the safest option. Install a baby gate in the doorway to prevent entry for your dog into the room with the tree. Another option is a low-lattice fencing around the tree and securing it so your dog can’t knock it over. When you’re not at home to supervise your dog placing your dog in a crate or separate room will keep him our of trouble.
Be aware when giving gifts of food that a dog’s keen sense of smell may alert them to a yummy treat under the tree. Gifts can also cause problems after every thing has been unwrapped. Wrapping, ribbons, small toys and pieces may be ingested after everything has been unwrapped.
Solution: When giving gifts of food it is best to keep the wrapped present in a spot away from where your dog may decide to investigate farther. Be prompt at picking up used wrapping paper and ribbons after opening gifts and keep a close eye on your dog around new toys.
During the holiday season it is important to remember your pet’s safety. If an accident does happen, be prepared with contact information for your veterinarian. If poisoning is suspected seek medical attention immediately and contact The Animal Poison Control Center at so your veterinarian can be prepared to treat your pet with the best medical care. With some care, you can help minimize the holiday hazards for your dog during the holidays and make the holiday season safe and enjoyable.