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Holiday Safety

holiday safety tips


Yes, there’s no place like home for the holidays, especially when you’ve got a furry friend as a part of your family. Your dog makes those cozy nights planning parties and making gift lists even more fun, and he’s bound to feel the excitement in the air as the holidays approach. But the holidays can also bring unwelcome safety issues into your home. There may be doggy dangers lurking around every festively decorated corner, so do your pet a favor and follow these tips for a safe holiday.

Plant One on Me
One of the most widespread and loveliest symbols of Christmas is the poinsettia plant (Euphorbia pulcherrima). The flowers on these beautiful shrubs, typically red in color, are often used as indoor holiday decorations. But the sap can be mildly toxic when ingested, causing stomach upset and vomiting. Although the poisonous aspects of the poinsettia have been overstated a bit, it’s still best to keep it out of reach of your pet, as even a mild case of an upset stomach can be enough to ruin your favorite rug.

On the other hand, mistletoe plant toxicity is a real concern. The typical variety used for Christmas decoration is Phoradendron flavescens, and this plant that you might steal a “kiss” under can seriously harm your dog. Signs of poisoning from mistletoe ingestion include vomiting, diarrhea, other gastrointestinal disorders, and cardiovascular collapse.

Other poisonous plants that may appear in your holiday décor include holly, daffodils, and lilies. Dogs who ingest them can suffer mild to strong toxic effects, including diarrhea and vomiting. While these plants are all lovely, do your pet a favor and keep them out of reach, or decorate with nontoxic, attractive plants like the red-veined prayer plant.

If your dog does accidentally ingest some of your holiday foliage, call your vet or the ASPCA’s 24-hour emergency poison hotline at 1-888-426-4435.

Pass the Gravy
Almost everyone looks forward to the holiday table, laden with delicious main courses, side dishes, and desserts. Some of these foods are tragic for your waistline, but even more importantly, they’re dangerous for your dog.

Your holiday table is bound to contain foods that are calorie heavy and full of fat. (Hey, it’s what elastic waistbands were made for!) They may not be toxic for your dog, but eating too much fatty food can cause him stomach upset or even pancreatitis—so think twice before you offer him table scraps. Not only will this encourage begging and bad manners, but you may end up with a sick pet.

Chocolate desserts can be awfully tempting to a food-crazy canine, but chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, both of which are toxic to dogs. Symptoms can range from diarrhea and vomiting to seizures and cardiac failure, depending on how much your dog weighs and how much he ingests. So nix the dessert table and keep all chocolate goodies out of his reach.


O Tannenbaum!
If there’s one sure way to get into the holiday spirit, it’s decorating your home to the nines. Christmas trees, lighted menorahs, wreaths, ribbons, and themed knickknacks can fill a house with good cheer. But these items may provide a problem for pet owners.

Take the Christmas tree, for example. A fully decorated, fresh pine or fir tree is a part of many people’s holiday traditions. The smell of fresh pine and the glow from the lights bring most of us right back to childhood. But these trees are considered mildly toxic to dogs and can cause gastrointestinal distress. Also, be aware that the pine needles that fall on your floor can puncture a dog’s intestines if he ingests them. Tinsel has been known to cause bowel obstructions if ingested, and easily shattered glass ornaments can cause cuts and abrasions. And don’t forget about the water in the tree stand—additives like aspirin or chemicals are often used to help extend the life of the tree, but they’re extremely toxic if your dog goes looking to quench his thirst.


Party Patrol
Socializing with friends, coworkers, and family is one of the best parts of the holiday season. With good cheer and warm hearts we welcome loved ones into our homes to create lasting memories. Just don’t let your “open door” policy become a liability for your dog. Make sure that he is secured on a leash or behind a closed door before welcoming guests. With all the excitement, there’s a chance your dog could dash outside, and the last thing you want is a lost and frightened dog loose in the neighborhood.

If your dog is easily overwhelmed or frightened by people he does not know well, consider making him comfortable in a quiet place in your home away from the hubbub. Then, when the holidays are over, start working on socializing him to new people. When the next holiday celebration comes around, he’ll be ready and willing to join in on all the fun!

The holidays can bring all members of your family—even the four-footed ones—together in a wonderful way. By following some simple safety precautions, you can be a holiday hero for your dog!

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