Holiday Safety Tips for Dogs: 5 Items to Avoid

The holiday season is a great time to be a pet parent! However, Christmastime also presents a variety of objects and situations that can put your dog in danger. Although some things you should keep your dog away from may surprise you, these holiday safety tips for dogs will help protect your pooch throughout the happiest time of the year.

#1: Bread Dough

Rising bread dough may seem harmless, but it can be hazardous if your dog gets hold of it. Because it contains yeast, the dough will continue to ferment and expand in dogs' stomachs even after being swallowed. This can lead to severe intestinal gas. In some cases, the dough will expand to such a size that it cannot exit the stomach. Keep your dog away from dough and call your vet if they swallow any amount.

#2: Chocolate

Most people know by now that chocolate is toxic to dogs. It contains theobromine—a substance similar to caffeine—which dogs have trouble metabolizing. However, the level of toxicity depends not only on the amount consumed and the size of the dog, but also upon the kind of chocolate involved. The least dangerous is white chocolate, and the most dangerous are cocoa beans. Milk and dark chocolates fall somewhere in between. Mild signs of toxicity include vomiting, excessive thirst and urination, and diarrhea. More serious effects are restlessness, hyperactivity, panting, twitching, or even seizures. It is possible for dogs to die from chocolate poisoning.

#3: Cleaning Products

Cleaning products—especially toilet bowl cleaners, caustics like Drano and Ajax, and pine oils—are dangerous to your dog. Bleaches and detergents are unsafe as well. Many of these products destroy tissue on contact, and pine oils can cause severe systemic disease.

Keep all containers tightly closed and locked away from your dog. Luckily, most dogs do not find cleaning agents very enticing. If your dog is exposed to cleaning products, flush their skin or mouth with plain water to wash away the remaining chemicals, then call your vet.

#4: Grapes & Raisins

Grapes can cause kidney failure in dogs and lead to symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, or even coma. In cases officially reported to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, the amount of grapes or raisins ingested has been between 9 ounces and 2 pounds; however, even a single snack-sized raisin package can induce symptoms.

Take your dog to the vet if they swallow a large number of grapes or raisins. Your dog may need blood tests and intravenous fluids, and your vet may want to induce vomiting, pump the stomach, or give activated charcoal.

#5: Christmas Trees

It's important to keep your fur kid safe around the tree, especially when they're opening dog Christmas gifts on that special morning! Place the Christmas tree near an outlet so you don't have long, tempting electrical cords for your dog to chew. Any visible cords should be taped down. It is best to anchor the tree to the ceiling or wall with hooks and clear fishing line so your pup doesn't grab it and start pulling it around the house. Some decorations, including lights, glitter, and artificial snow, are all somewhat dangerous as well.

Remember to attach ornaments with a bit of ribbon or string rather than hooks, and place chewable or glass ornaments well out of reach. No ornament is completely safe if it can be swallowed. Tinsel and garlands can be especially dangerous, as dogs tend to swallow them and they can then get stuck in the intestine. Removal often requires dangerous and expensive surgery. Dogs and pine needles should be kept apart, too. Always sweep up pine needles; they can irritate the mouth and perforate your dog's intestines.

Tree preservatives, which are sugar based and therefore tempting to dogs, are also unsafe. There's no telling what else may be lurking in the tree water—bacteria, fertilizers, insecticides, and flame-retardants are all possibilities. Cover the tree stand with a skirt and supervise your dog.

A couple quick reminders are to make sure your dog stays out of the kitchen while festive human foods are being prepared and always have a long-lasting chew treat or chew toy on hand to distract them from potentially dangerous situations. Keep our holiday safety tips for dogs in mind as you and your jolly pup celebrate your favorite traditions and open gifts together.

We wish every dog and pet parent a happy howl-iday season!


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