By Jennifer Koretsky
The Christmas holidays are fast approaching! While you’re busy decorating and preparing your home for guests, here are a few important tips to keep your dog safe this season.
The Christmas Tree
Tinsel, small ornaments, and ornament hooks are major choking hazards for dogs. It’s best to avoid tinsel altogether and keep small ornaments high on the tree, out of the dog’s reach. Also, make sure there are no stray ornament hooks on the floor!
If your family has a real tree (as opposed to an artificial tree), it’s best to block off the area around the tree with a screen or gate. Many dogs become ill from drinking tree water and ingesting pine needles. Vacuum the area around the tree regularly.
It’s exciting to have family and friends over during the holidays—even for your dog! But there are certain precautions you should take when having company over.
Dogs can easily slip out the door when people are continuously going in and out. Make sure your dog is wearing an identification tag with your phone number, even if he is micro-chipped. Not everyone who finds a lost dog knows to have him checked for a micro-chip.
Your guests may adore your dog, but don’t let them give your dog any food without asking. Children especially may want to give the dog a treat—hand them a safe treat and supervise while they give it to the dog. Under no circumstances should your dog be given turkey or chicken bones. They are too small and are a serious choking hazard. As an alternative, buy a marrow bone at the grocery store as a special holiday treat.
Why You Shouldn’t Give Dogs as Gifts
Bringing a new dog into the family is a wonderful thing, especially if you adopt a dog from a shelter. However, giving a dog as a Christmas gift is never a good idea. Regardless of whether the dog is a puppy or an adult, his first few days in your home should be all about him. The holidays, for most families, are too chaotic and busy for a dog to get used to his new environment, and he may become anxious or frightened.
A great idea for families who want to give their children a dog for Christmas is to gift wrap a dog bone. When the child opens it, tell them it’s for the new dog that you’ll be getting in a few weeks. Or you can leave a note from Santa explaining that he didn’t have enough room on his sleigh and will be coming back with the dog. Animal shelters are flooded every January with dogs who were given as Christmas gifts—so January is a great time to adopt a dog who needs a home.
Lastly, it’s always a good idea to have your vet’s phone number posted in a visible spot. Your vet’s office should have someone answering the phone 24/7.
The most important thing to remember, amidst all the chaos of the holidays, is to always know where your dog is and what he’s up to. That way everyone in your home, including the four-legged family members, can have a Merry Christmas.
Copyright (c) 2007 Jennifer Koretsky
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