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5 Must-Know Holiday Safety Tips for Dogs

Two Frenchies sitting side by side next to a Christmas tree, one wearing antler

The holidays are one the most joyous times of year for people and their pets! As the season of family, festivities, and feasting approaches, be sure you keep the delight in your Christmas lights and glee in gift-giving by protecting your pup from holiday pitfalls. This unique time of year calls for a fresh approach to keeping your canine companion out of harm’s way. While we recommend looking at your home through the eyes of your dog, we also have some tips to prevent the most common Christmas catastrophes.

Keep the happy howls in the howl-idays by…

1. Keeping Chocolate & Xylitol Out of Reach

Christmas and sweets go together like cake and birthdays. However, sweet treats can be extremely dangerous for unsuspecting dogs. Chocolates and xylitol can quickly turn a holiday into a trip to the emergency vet–and both can be fatal for your best friend.

What Is Xylitol & How Dangerous Is It?

Most dog parents are aware of the danger of chocolates. However, xylitol is highly toxic to dogs and can easily be overlooked by unsuspecting dog owners. Xylitol is a sugar replacement that is often listed as “birch sugar” or “sugar alcohol” on ingredient lists. 

All it takes is a pinch of xylitol to send a small dog into organ failure.

It’s most often found in sugar-free products such as gum, vitamin gummies, and baked goods. It’s also very common in dental products like toothpaste and mouthwash.

How to Protect Your Pup

To keep your dog safe from chocolate and xylitol, keep stockings and any gifts that may contain chocolate out of paw’s reach.

Additionally, ask houseguests to keep their toiletry bags safe from your dogs. For dinner guests, be sure that coats and purses that may contain sugar-free gum are safely stored away from your dog.

2. Educating Houseguests on Human Handouts

Christmas just isn’t Christmas without a family-filled, love-filled meal. However, many well-intentioned family members want to share their love with the resident dog with handouts. While most handouts aren’t all that dangerous, others are. 

Additionally, too many rich bites of food can lead to a major downer for dogs and their families: diarrhea.

How to Protect Your Pup

Ask your friends and family to withhold human foods from your dog. Providing an alternative way for them to treat your dog with love can help. Consider keeping a bowl of training treats available, so they can safely spoil your dog with tasty treats.

If some of your guests are adamant about giving your dog some bites of human food, it’s best to avoid preparing meals with raisins and nutmeg. These ingredients are toxic to most dogs, and many people may not think about it before letting your dog partake in a few bites of cookies or gingerbread.

3. Securing the Christmas Tree & Ornaments

A dog with an unsafe Christmas tree in the background and a stocking in its mouth

Decorating the tree is a true treat! However, each year, many dog owners find their trees toppled by their dogs. This is unfortunate in that many of your favourite ornaments may break–and it can cause serious injuries to your dog.

Additionally, many adorable ornaments resemble dog toys… making them extra appealing to bored and curious canines. However, these decorations pose a serious choking threat along with posing the very serious possibility of creating an intestinal blockage from ribbons and even tears from metal hanging hooks. 

As for glass balls and baubles, these can be easily mistaken for balls, making them appealing to dogs obsessed with fetch.

How to Protect Your Pup

Block off your tree from your dog and do not leave your dog unattended with the tree. Hang the ornaments that could entice your dog higher on the tree to reduce the risk of them getting ahold of them.

4. Skipping Poisonous Plants

Poinsettia and mistletoe are toxic to dogs. Mistletoe can cause severe intestinal issues along with a dangerous drop in blood pressure. While poinsettias mostly pose a threat to puppies, a few bites of their colourful foliage can make an adult dog very sick. Holly is also poisonous to your pets. 

So, if you want to add a bit of green foliage to your festivities, these may not be the best options. 

How to Protect Your Pup

Opt for faux foliage to add a festive flair to your holiday decor. If fresh plants are a must, keep the mistletoe, poinsettias, and hollies in areas where your dog cannot accidentally ingest them.

5. Being Mindful of Cords & Candles

A dog tangled in christmas lights

String lights and candles truly light up the celebration. However, these brilliant additions to the holiday also pose a threat to your dog. 

Candles can cause severe burns to clumsy and curious dogs. They can even result in a hazard to your home should your dog accidentally knock one off a surface or bump one over.

As for string lights, many unsuspecting dogs can get tangled in them or pull down a tree in a panic after tripping over them. Many curious and teething puppies every year sink their teeth into cords, resulting in severe burns or zaps.

How to Protect Your Pup

Keep cords secure and up, off the floor where a dog could accidentally trip on them. Never let your puppy explore an area with live cords and wires. 

Keep Your Christmas Canine-Friendly

A dog lying safely near a christmas tree with a snowman dog toy

Nothing puts a damper on the holidays more than a trip to the vet or a Christmas catastrophe. Keep your whole family safe, including your furry family members by staying proactive and protecting them from these common dangers. When you spend some time planning to protect your pup, you will unwrap even more happiness this holiday!