Holidays and your dog. How to make them happy and safe for all!

Tis the season to be jolly! Another Holiday season has arrived. The Holidays often bring new people, irresistible foods, and other temptations into our homes, and we need to be aware of the safety of our pets. Dogs are curious by nature and their heightened sense of smell can many times get them into trouble.

There are numerous items around our homes during the Holiday Season from which we must be sure our dogs steer clear. Every dog will have a different threshold level (based on breed, age, and weight), but it is best to try to eliminate ANY of the below items from our dogs reach to ensure strong health and safety:

  1. Plants & Trees. Poinsettias, Christmas cactus, hemlock, holly, ivy, mistletoe, balsam, cedar, juniper, fir, pine, avocado, geranium, marijuana, ferns, aloe, and tiger lilies can ALL cause irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and even death if ingested. Try to spray the leaves or plants with Bitter Apple, or simply position the items out of the dogs reach. For a festive tree, use the “LEAVE IT” command if you notice your dog chewing or smelling the branches. Sap and needles can be hard for a dog to digest, and will most certainly be a cause for illness. Consumption of ANY listed items in this article should be dealt with on a dog-to-dog basis. Symptoms of serious illness include: excessive diarrhea, not drinking water, and excessive vomiting. If this happens, contact your vet immediately.
  2. Food/snack items. Many foods must be OFF limits to your dog. Be aware of the following items when cooking or if you take your dog to a friends home or public place: *Chocolate (can cause Theobromine poisoning in your dog) *Onions, grapes, raisins (studies have shown the skins of these foods to be indigestible by dogs.) Even chewing gum has been shown to cause irritation to a dogs internal digestive systems.
  3. Miscellaneous items. The following are a variety of items that can be found around your home that can be toxic to your dog’s health: Antifreeze, bleach, Tylenol, ibuprofen, watch batteries, moth balls, fabric softeners and other detergents, mouthwash, alcohol, and peach/avocado pits or other fruit seeds. It is okay to vary a dog’s diet, but do it with quality meat kibble and fresh cooked, unseasoned meats only! This will keep your dog interested in its own food and more eager to eat it. DO NOT give scraps from the dinner table or your dog may begin to beg from you.
  4. Good, common sense. Dogs are carnivores, so their diet consists primarily of meat. It should go without saying; don’t feed your dog Doritos or Mac Donald’s! It’s okay to give your dog an occasional lick of your ice cream cone or a small piece of cheese, but use good ole’ fashion common sense when deciding what your dog should eat. Also, given the sensitivity of most dogs digestive systems, a routine diet should be maintained.

So, when you hear the Holiday dinner bell ringing, enjoy your feast o’ plenty. Holidays bring out the best energy in humans, therefore making our dogs that much more comfortable and excited. Pass me another double baked potato! Just be sure that Fido is eating his dog food, and not your Angel Food Cake.