4 Dog Safety Strategies for the Holidays

Brittany Randolph

Dog Wearing Santa Hat

The holiday hustle is underway at Bow Wow Labs and our number one goal this season is to help you keep your pup safe, happy and healthy. While we humans enjoy making the atmosphere more festive with beautiful plants, fancy decorations and delicious recipes, many of these can pose a health or safety hazard to your dog. To help keep your dog joyful this holiday, follow a few easy pet safety tips that will make the season more enjoyable for everyone.

Know Which Plants are Toxic for Dogs

Holiday plants are beautiful - there’s no doubt! But some of them can be toxic to pets. You can still have holiday plants with pets, just know what to look out for and you’ll earn extra pet parent gold stars!

Dog Smelling Mistletoe

  • Poinsettias and Christmas trees fall under the mildly toxic category. If Fido gets his paws on these plants and ingests parts of the leaves or needles, there is a chance he will feel discomfort in the belly, excessive drooling and possibly vomiting. However, the symptoms are not life-threatening, so stay calm if your pup comes in contact with these.
  • Mistletoe and Holly are considered moderate to severely toxic to our four-legged friends. Keep these plants out of your pet’s reach as they can cause gastrointestinal dysfunction, slowed mental function, difficulty breathing and low heart rate.
  • Lilies and Daffodils are popular plants that are usually given as gifts at this time of year. Be careful with them around your dog because they are considered highly toxic and can cause cardiac arrhythmias and kidney failure if ingested. If your pup ingests one of these two plants, be prepared to make an emergency trip to the veterinarian.

Know Which Human Holiday Treats are Toxic for Dogs

It’s okay to feed the dog under the table, right? NO - it’s not!

Not only does this encourage bad (begging) behavior in your dog all year long, you never know how human food will impact your dog’s unique system.

Dog Staring at Holiday Treats

  • Dinner scraps might be tempting to share with Fido - it’s the holidays after all - but these foods tend to be high in fats and spices that are difficult for dogs to digest and therefore can lead to costly medical bills (or a midnight wake-up call for going potty).
  • Festive drinks should be kept out of your dog’s reach. If your dog takes a slurp of your sugary, creamy or boozy (albeit, beautifully decorated) beverage, this can lead to increased blood sugar and heart problems.
  • Fancy desserts are a big offender because of the commonly known chocolate toxicity. Depending upon the type of chocolate, it doesn’t take much to cause a problem. For instance, 8 ounces (a ½ pound) of milk chocolate may sicken a 50-pound dog, whereas a dog of the same size can be poisoned by as little as 1 ounce of Baker's chocolate. Also, many chocolate-based sweets contain an ingredient called Xylitol which is severely toxic to dogs and should be avoided at all costs.

If you just can’t resist treating your dog at holiday time, check out these Holiday Pumpkin Poofs from our friends at Leader of the Pax. Of course our bully sticks and Bully Buddy are a perfect treat at holiday time, or anytime!

Know Which Decorations are Dangerous for Dogs

Festive decor is one way to make the holidays FUN! But our curious four-legged friends might misinterpret your shiny new flair as a new thing to chew, taste or bat around.

Dog Wrapped in Holidays Lights

  • Tinsel looks harmless enough but if dogs start playing with it, knotting it up and chewing on it, this string of metallic coated plastic can cause intestinal harm or even a blockage. Be sure there are no loose ends hanging down, tempting your dog to pull or play.
  • String lights are a tangle disaster waiting to happen if they are within reach of your curious pup. Dogs can accidentally get stuck, entwine a paw, and even (heaven forbid) strangle or electrocute themselves on loose lights. Make sure your dog cannot reach them or chew on them. If your lights are in an area that is accessible to your dog, keep a close eye and either crate or separate your dog from the lights when you are not home.
  • Imitation snow helps us get in the winter holiday spirit and makes our trees look like fresh mountain pines. However, imitation snow can be toxic so try to limit the amount you put at your dogs sniff-level.

Know Who to Call if Your Dog Has an Emergency

Now that you know which dog hazards abound this holiday season, you can rest easy and enjoy the festivities.

If you find your pet in a troublesome situation or are unsure if he or she has eaten something toxic, contact the ASPCA poison control center immediately at 888-426-4435.

Related Dog Safety Resources

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