Everywhere you look, the holiday season is in full swing.
From Capitol Hill to Georgetown to Adams Morgan and the Navy Yard, the holiday season in the DC Metro Area is exciting.
At home, lots of changes are likely afoot. Deliveries and visitors increase, new decorations aref hung, seasonal meals are prepared, and a giant tree, surrounded by presents, might sit in the middle of your house.
While all of this is fun and exciting, it can be pretty stressful for the dogs in our lives. Unfortunately, the holiday season poses a significant risk to their health and well-being.
That’s why you and your family should make a plan to ensure that everyone in your family, including your pets, has a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season.
Read on for some important information on protecting dogs from holiday dangers.
Manage Increased Holiday Foot Traffic Around Your Home
Consider keeping your dogs leashed or harnessed when you host visitors in your DC home. Also, ensure their ID tags are up to date and – if possible – that they are microchipped.
Whether it’s a neighbor stopping by for some holiday cheer or a delivery person getting you to sign for a package, it only takes an instant for a dog to slip through the front door and disappear. Unfortunately, the more traffic you have coming in and out of your house, the more opportunities your pet has to escape.
Alternatively, consider setting up an exercise pen or gate near the door to keep your pets from escaping.
Keep Dogs Away Electrical Cords
Dogs, especially puppies, have been known to chew on holiday light cords, which can be incredibly dangerous and cause electrocution.
Always keep cords covered, limit lights to the higher tree branches, or skip the holiday lights altogether.
Whenever you catch a dog munching on electrical cords, the cord should be unplugged and immediately moved from its reach.
Be Mindful of Your Holiday Tree and the Decorations that Adorn it
Many a holiday tree has been toppled by a curious or excited pooch. That can be easily prevented by tethering the tree to your ceiling using a standard plant hook coupled with a sturdy wire.
If your family brings a natural tree into the home for the holidays, be mindful of the tree needles and water, which can harm dogs if ingested.
Consider hanging bells from the tree’s lower branches, which can alert you of unwanted curiosity. Keep all your most precious, breakable tree ornaments toward the top of your tree, or keep them in storage until your dog is older.
You can also surround your tree using an exercise pen as a way to keep dogs away.
Avoid Holiday Plants and Greenery
Please remember that many traditional holiday flowers and plants, such as holly and mistletoe, are incredibly toxic for dogs. Even common outdoor evergreens are poisonous, so avoid bringing any outdoor clippings into the home as garland unless you’ve identified the variety and know they are safe for pets.
Although poinsettias aren’t toxic for dogs, ingesting plants can cause discomfort, irritation, vomiting, or diarrhea in dogs.
Also, avoid using tinsel, string, yarn, or other decorations featuring long strands that attract curious pets. For example, cranberry and popcorn strings are incredibly enticing. Be sure to keep them out of reach of your pet.
Keep Toxic Foods Out of Your Dog’s Reach
Several holiday food items are harmful to dogs, including Macadamia nuts, raisins, grapes, chocolate, and sugar-free products containing the chemical xylitol. You should also avoid placing gifts containing food items, like cheeses, meats, and candies, underneath the Christmas tree. Whether they are wrapped or not, your dog will find them.
Also, be aware that alcohol ingestion can cause severe consequences for dogs. So be careful not to place your favorite holiday drink on the floor or low tables.
If you let your pup indulge with you during holiday meals, be aware that the fat and bones from turkey, ham, and other holiday means are known to cause intestinal blockages or cause pancreatitis.
If your dog is the type to get into the trash, you must empty it regularly during the holiday season.
Be Aware of Holiday Candles and Oils
It is not uncommon for a dog to tip over a candle or get too close to its flame. So, keep candles out of reach.
Scented holiday oils are also dangerous and pose a severe health risk when ingested. Consider a plug-in product instead.
Keep Your Dog Safe From Outdoor Seasonal Dangers
Unfortunately, the holiday season can bring many outdoor dangers that can put your dog at risk. When out on dog walks around DC Metro Area or even in your yard, be aware of the following hazards:
- Sidewalk Salt and Ice Melt: You should avoid using traditional ice melt around your house unless it is specifically non-toxic to pets. Alternatively, you can use kitty litter, an excellent sidewalk salt alternative.
If you believe your dog has walked through ice melt or sidewalk salt that isn’t pet friendly, wash their paws immediately.
- Antifreeze: Throughout DC Metro Area, the use of antifreeze increases during the cold winter months. Unfortunately, antifreeze, also known as ethylene glycol, is incredibly toxic to dogs, has a very sweet taste, and stays liquified when water sources have frozen.
When a dog initially ingests antifreeze, it will mimic the consumption of alcohol but will quickly lead to irreversible, fatal kidney failure. Therefore, always wipe up any spilled antifreeze and store it in a covered container.
If you suspect your dog has ingested antifreeze, contact your vet immediately.
The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) is your best resource for any animal poison-related emergency, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you think your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, call (888) 426-4435. A consultation fee may apply.
These are just a few ways to avoid holiday dangers this year in and around the DC metro region so that you and your dog can have a safe and healthy holiday season.
Also, in this season of giving, our team here at Metro Mutts wishes you and yours a wonderful winter holiday season!