Halloween came and went! Thanksgiving is in the rearview mirror. I can hardly believe it. October flew by. November is all but over. We are in the midst of the holiday season. Keeping dogs safe during the holidays is at the forefront of my mind.
Not that I don’t think about it all the time. But the holidays presents unique situations that you don’t necessarily have the rest of the year.
Between now and January 1 there will be lots of celebrating. Holidays means parties and get togethers. Along these lines, there are many things that aren’t good for dogs. Some of them are just more common during the holidays.
From Halloween through New Year’s Day we always seem to have chocolate candy on hand. Since chocolate isn’t good for dogs we always have to be careful.
I was told by a vet that chocolate candy isn’t as bad for them as baking chocolate. Still I don’t want to take any chances.
I remember when we first had Rebel. My sister had filled a bunch of Easter eggs with candy and hid them in my mom’s backyard so our nieces and nephews could find them. Well Rebel found them first. He chewed open the eggs and ate the chocolate. All I could think was he was going to die. Of course, he was our first dog so there were lots of times I thought he was going to die.
Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine. It’s a stimulant found in chocolate and it’s dangerous for dogs. In addition, the caffeine found in chocolate isn’t healthy for dogs either.
Holiday parties and get togethers usually mean alcohol consumption. Rebel and Wrigley used to always knock over guests’ beer glasses sitting on the floor then lap up as much beer as they could before we could get it cleaned up. We quickly learned that glasses need to be kept out of the dogs’ reach.
One time Carter and I came home from work to find Rebel acting weird. Turns out he chewed through a plastic bottle of Captain Morgan rum while we were at work.
I was freaked out. I called poison control and they assessed the situation. They said he would be okay but that we should make sure he drinks a lot of water and we keep a close eye on him.
If you haven’t noticed yet, Rebel lived up to his name. Also, drunk dogs aren’t as bad to take care of as drunk friends. They don’t lose their shoes or text their exes trying to hook up. And there is no drunk crying with dogs. But we no longer buy plastic bottles of alcohol. We are adults after all.
The holidays are all about food. And where there is food there is (many times) leftovers. In little bits leftovers aren’t always bad for dogs.
Most dogs get a few table scraps from time to time. In fact growing up I only remember us giving our dogs table scraps. I never remember my parents buying dog food. Although my brother has assured me that our dog did get dog food and only occasionally got scraps. Since he’s 15 years older than me I’ll trust his memory over mine.
Too much of a good thing can be bad for dogs. I’ve made the mistake of giving my dogs too much turkey or chicken in the past thinking it’s good for them. Then I found out the hard way that too much protein and/or fat (in the form of turkey and chicken + skin) can lead to gastroenteritis.
Gastroenteritis causes an inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract and will present itself through vomiting and diarrhea. It generally means a bland diet and antibiotics for your dog. And lots of discomfort for them. And when the dog is uncomfortable the pet parent is usually as well.
I have always heard that poinsettias were toxic to dogs. To the point that whenever someone gives me one I kindly decline or regift it to someone else. According to the ASPCA website, poinsettias aren’t as toxic as I’ve been made to believe. Still I don’t take any chances. Plants don’t survive in my house anyway.
We have an artificial Christmas tree. We’ve talked about cutting down our own tree. But it seems like a lot of work not just to harvest but to also keep alive. Plants don’t survive long in my house. I imagine a Christmas tree would meet the same fate.
We learned early on that tree ornaments can’t be placed too close to the bottom of the tree where the dogs can get to them. They get knocked off and broken all the time. Not only is this annoying and costly, it can also be harmful for the dog.
We’ve also learned to keep our tree close to the wall. If the dogs can get between the tree and the wall then it increases the odds that they can get the artificial tree spinning in the stand. If you’ve never seen this phenomenon, it kind of looks like the tree is possessed.
Our dogs have chased each other under the tree and got it spinning so fast that ornaments were just flying off of it. In addition to the ornaments being bad for them if they ingested them, there is also the chance they will step on them.
I’ve stepped on my fair share of metal ornament hooks and I can tell you it isn’t fun. I can only imagine how painful it is for a dog. Especially when they can’t tell you what happened so you’re left to guess.
If you’re trying to up your holiday kissing game, then mistletoe is your wingman. And while mistletoe is generally hung in a doorway, it can end up on the floor and in reach of a well meaning but curious dog. To avoid this, consider fake mistletoe. It’s also worth noting that dogs will kiss you even if you aren’t standing under mistletoe. So maybe this holiday season you should just stock up on dog kisses.
We’ve never had a dog that has destroyed Christmas gifts. But that’s not to say it can’t happen. If any dog is up for the challenge, it’s Dixie. With it being her first Christmas with us, we have no idea what to expect from her.
We don’t keep any dog gifts under the tree. Our dogs have always had a really good sense of smell. I think if we did, they would have torn into them.
Not only is a dog chewing through gifts bad for the dog, it’s also a quick way to lose your holiday spirit. Don’t tempt them.
The ASPCA has an Animal Poison Control Center. The number is (888) 426-4435. It’s staff 24/7/365. I called them when Rebel chewed through the bottle of rum.
I called them more recently when I accidentally gave Caesar two heartworm pills instead of a heartworm and a flea and tick pill. They are very knowledgable. They may assess a consultation fee. However, I pay about a $20 a year fee and the consultations are free. $20 is worth it to me. Even if I don’t use it in a year, it’s nice to have the peace of mind.
We haven’t had to use an emergency vet in many years. I hope I don’t jinx myself by saying that. I can tell you where that emergency vet is located because I pass it all the time. Also because it’s where Wrigley died. That thought didn’t occur to me until just now.
I couldn’t tell you the phone number. I did put it in my phone just now though. Because when you have an emergency the last thing you want to worry about is finding the phone number.
Not only is it important to know the nearest emergency vet is, you should also know where the most convenient 24 hour vet is. The one by me is open 24 hours a day. But not all of them in that particular emergency vet network are open around the clock. So it’s worth knowing ones near you and ones that are open 24×7.
Keeping your dog(s) safe is important all year round, not just during the holidays. But this time of year presents different challenges – things you don’t necessarily have to think about during the rest of the year. Knowing where to go if you have an emergency is a key component to keeping them safe. Better to have the deets of emergency vets convenient to you and not need them then the other way around.