Besides the arrival of Santa, holidays also mark the time when attention-grabbing objects suddenly materialize around the house, at least from your dog’s perspective. Multi-coloured gifts, delicious baked treats and shimmering tree decorations are magnets for canine curiosity. However, this annual exploration may also bring hazards to our canine companions. “We don’t think that dogs will eat tinsel and sharp ornaments but they only appear once a year so they are a novelty and therefore enticing,” explains Michelle Sevigny, founder of Dogsafe Canine First Aid. If you have a dog, consider these holiday season safety tips:
1. Keep chocolate (especially baker’s and dark chocolate) and baked goods containing macadamia nuts and raisins out of your dog’s reach. Chocolate contains theobromine, which if ingested may cause vomiting, diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst, hyperactivity, tremors or even death. The darker the chocolate the higher the concentration of theobromine and higher the risk. White chocolate does not contain theobromine but still contains sugar and fat which may cause stomach upset if ingested. Raisins can cause vomiting, diarrhea and potentially kidney failure. Macadamia nuts can cause vomiting and severe weakness that can affect the dog’s ability to stand.
2. Unsweetened Christmas candies may contain xylitol which may cause a sudden drop in blood sugar, resulting in vomiting, weakness, depression, loss of coordination and seizures if ingested by dogs. If candy wrappers are also ingested, intestinal blockages may occur.
3. If eaten, holly and mistletoe may cause vomiting, diarrhea and intestinal upset. Contrary to popular belief, poinsettias are not fatal if ingested, but may cause mild vomiting and it is best to keep ALL holiday plants out of reach.
4. Christmas tree decorations, lights and electrical cords are tempting for exploring dogs but may lead to a blocked airway if the objects are ingested or electrocution if the cords are chewed. Keep the decorations higher on the tree, tape down all dangling electrical cords and to prevent tipping, consider wiring your tree to a small hook in the ceiling. Watch your dog when near the tree and do not leave them alone.
5. Do not allow your dog to accidentally lick wine and other alcoholic drinks from low tables as this may cause weakness, vomiting and if ingested in abundance, even coma and death.
6. Stagnant Christmas tree water can be a breeding ground for bacteria which may cause gastrointestinal upset if your dog laps it up. Be careful of adding tree preservatives as they may contain fertilizers which can cause stomach upset. Prevent access with a cover of tin foil, towel or the tree blanket and always monitor your dog.
7. Keep liquid potpourri out of your dog’s reach as may be potentially toxic if ingested and can cause skin & eye irritation. Also watch candles as they may cause intestinal blockage if ingested and burn the dog’s nose, hair and paws if they get too close while exploring – and watch that wagging tail so it doesn’t knock over a burning candle and put everybody at risk.
8. Advise your house guests to keep their medicines and toiletries out of your dog’s reach. Always keep current identification on your dog in the event he sneaks out the door while party guests are coming and going.
9. Gift wrap, ribbons, bows and glitter may be enticing to dogs and cause obstructed airways and intestinal blockages if ingested. Keep your dog away from the craft table, clean up the table and floor after a wrapping session and keep the colourful, finished presents out of your dog’s reach.
10. Keep an eye on all new, unwrapped gifts, toys and wayward board game pieces. Dry cell batteries used in toys and small disc batteries in watches and cameras can cause intestinal blockages and corrosive damage internally if chewed or split apart. Silica gel packets, used to absorb moisture and commonly found with electronics, will only cause mild stomach upset but may cause blockages if many are consumed.
11. Watch your dog around the holiday meal and in the kitchen; turkey bones, discarded plastic food wrap, table scraps and other holiday meal items may be stolen from the table, counter or garbage when your focus is on your guests. Bones and plastic wrap may cause choking or intestinal blockages and table scraps may cause stomach upset resulting in vomiting or diarrhea.
Check out www.dogsafe.ca for more information.