Holidays are a wonderful time for you and your family. Naturally, you also want your puppy to be a part of the celebrations. However, there are some veterinary holiday hazards that new puppy parents need to be aware of. When you know about these holiday ‘pet dangers’, you can take necessary steps to prevent mishaps and keep your pets safe during this joyous time of the year.
Here are some Thanksgiving and Christmas dangers for pets and the ways in which you can avoid them.
Holiday pet dangers checklist
Keep household cleaners away from pets
Holidays often mean tons of house cleaning. Avoid using harsh household cleaners that are filled with chemicals. Keep them away from your pet as far as possible; make sure your pet is unable to open the cabinets where they are stored. Chemical cleaners have toxic fumes and your pet could even accidentally lick them. This can cause vomiting, seizures, and even death. Consider using gentler, greener cleaning products made with herbs, vinegar, and essential oils. Do be mindful that even certain essential oils are toxic to dogs and cats.
Harmful holiday foods for dogs
Many human foods made during the holidays are downright toxic to puppies and adult dogs. Some of these foods can cause pancreatitis and upset stomachs in puppies and many can even be fatal to a pet.
- Alcohol – Even a single drop of alcohol can lead to death. So always keep alcohol away from puppies and wash all your alcohol glasses right away. Mop up spills promptly.
- Chocolate, tea, and coffee – These substances contain xanthine which can harm your dog’s urinary and nervous systems. Chocolate can cause diarrhea, seizures, and even death. So make sure to keep away chocolate-laden cakes and foods away from your puppy.
- Cooked bones – We cannot imagine the Holidays without turkey but do not toss those leftover bones to your puppy. Cooked bones can shatter and splinter leading to internal injuries, even choking and death.
- Uncooked bread, cookie dough – Never give your puppy the cake pan or uncooked bread dough to lick. The yeast can cause gas in your pet and lead to severe stomach ache.
- Grapes and raisins – Many of us use raisins in our baked goods but these are extremely toxic to dogs.
- Candies, gum – The xylitol in candies and gum can be fatal to pets.
Remember: puppies are good at begging and they make those lovely puppy eyes which most of us cannot resist. But never give in, especially if they are begging for the above toxic foods. Here is a list with some of the worst foods for dogs.
Nicotine and tobacco smoke
Tobacco products are harmful to humans but they are downright toxic to young puppies, nursing or pregnant bitches, and even immune-compromised elderly dogs. Studies show that even a few minutes of exposure to cigarette smoke can cause diseases in pets. Signs of tobacco poisoning in young puppies include salivation, seizures, and even cardiac arrest. So keep ashtrays away from your pet, and politely ask your guests not to smoke indoors.
Aluminum food containers and plastic trash bags
An important one in all Holiday safety tip for pet parents is to keep aluminum food containers, aluminum foils, and plastic trash bags away from your puppy. A young puppy might sniff the food in these and could accidentally ingest them. Plastic bags can strangle a puppy. So make sure that your garbage trash cans are puppy-proof. Keep the trash securely locked or store it in a place where your puppy cannot access it.
Holidays are a time to decorate the house with lovely Christmas lights. Electric cords can look rather attractive to a teething puppy. Puppies love to chew on cords and this can be extremely harmful to a pet. They can electrocute a puppy or even cause serious burns. Supervise your puppy near the Christmas tree. Keep electric cords safely out of sight. Use dog proof electric cords or spray the cords with ‘chew deterrent sprays’.
Christmas lights can overheat and cause serious burns in pets. So always unplug lights if you are going out. Supervise your puppy near the lights. Never keep tea lights and candles on the floor where your pet can access them or topple them causing fires.
The pine tar from a real Christmas tree is toxic to dogs and its needles can puncture a dog’s intestines if swallowed. Christmas tree preserving solutions contains sugar, flame retardants, and other harmful chemicals. Many dogs are attracted to this liquid and puppies are even known to drink it and land up in the emergency room. So make sure that you cover up the water using a tree skirt or at least keep an eye on the pet so that he is unable to access it. You can also use a dog fence around the tree. Consider making your own tree preservative using water and sugar instead of buying commercial preservatives. Always use a sturdy stand to hold the tree and add some weights to it so that your pet cannot knock it down.
The dangling Christmas tree decorations and ornaments can look very attractive to a young, naughty pet. Glass ornaments possess great hazard to dogs and cats. Tinsel looks shiny and although your puppy may not eat it, he might lick it or ingest its shards. Christmas decorations are known to cause lacerations in pets. Sharp, shiny ornaments could pose a serious threat to a pet’s eyes. Ornaments can break and shatter and the small parts, if swallowed, could cause serious injury to the animal’s intestines. Either protect the tree decorations using a fence or place the ornaments high enough so that your pet cannot access them.
Christmas is incomplete without gifts but if you have a puppy, it is best not to stack gifts under the tree. A curious or bored pet could easily tear up the boxes and ribbons. Wrapping paper, ribbons, and shiny bows can look appealing to a puppy, but these can harm his intestines if swallowed. Be careful of toys having small batteries or parts; they are serious choking hazards and can also be toxic to pets. Keep away gift boxes containing perfumes and after-shaves; these could be irritating to a pet’s lungs. If you buy plush toys or chew toys as gifts for your puppy, ensure that they do not have buttons or small parts that pose a choking hazard. Rawhide bones and treats should only be administered under supervision; many puppies are known to have choked on these.
People often use indoor plants to decorate their homes during the holidays. But if you have a new puppy, be mindful of these Christmas dangers for pets. Plants like hibiscus, mistletoe, and holly can be toxic to puppies and kittens. The leaves and berries of holly plants are known to cause stomach upset and vomiting. Some plants can also cause the heart to collapse. If possible, keep these plants out of reach of your pet. Consider using imitation plants where possible.
House guests and car rides
Young puppies need their sleep. If you have many house guests during the holidays your dog could get cranky or irritable and can also show aggression or start biting. Over-excited dogs can have indoor accidents. Do not shout or hit your pet when this occurs. Make sure he gets some quiet time to rest. Do follow his walk and feeding schedules as far as possible. Make sure that his vaccinations are on schedule. When taking your pet out on car rides use a puppy safety belt or a canine car seat system to secure him to the seat. This will keep him safe on drives.
We hope these holiday safety tips and our pet dangers checklist will help you keep veterinary holiday hazards at bay!