By Chris Pitts, RVT, of Broadway Animal Hospital.
The holidays can be stressful and full of temptation for pets as well as people. Those friends and family you entertain can be seen as invading hordes to your dog. All the lovely, butter-filled treats you work so hard to prepare can cause GI upset and pancreatitis in your dog. Those gorgeous decorations you work so hard to hang, can be awfully tempting to a curious canine companion. And all those things you may think of as just trash, can be just the thing to make your dog dumpster dive his way into an emergency trip to the vet.
Visitors love to handle pets and leave doors open. A good way to keep a shy dog happy may be to set him up in a room with food, water, a toy and his bed where he can safely escape from the holiday commotion. Allowing a dog his own room cuts down on the chance that a nervous dog will run off when the front door or garden gate get left open as visitors come and go. Letting Chewy have privacy will also keep him from sampling the appetizers on the coffee table, which will gross out your guests and keep you up all night while he has GI upset. Do a trial run before the guests arrive to make sure he can handle being alone.
In addition, during the holidays you may tend to add poinsettias, flowers or mistletoe to your décor. These plants are beautiful and have holiday meanings, but they are toxic to dogs. Keeping poinsettias on the front porch where a dog is less likely to have access to them, as opposed to indoors next to the fireplace, may be a safer option. Most mistletoe is hung high above a dog's reach, but make sure it is secured really well so it does not fall if someone knocks into it.
Another common holiday issue is dogs that eat ornaments off the tree. While all ornaments seem to be fair game to the family dog, the glass ornaments are a favorite to chew. Maybe because they are crunchy? Obviously, shards of hard plastic or glass can cause major damage to your dog's insides. Doing a daily inventory of ornaments within your dog's reach is a good way to prevent a nasty surprise of gastro-intestinal upset that can include blood in vomit or stool.
Last, but not least, with all the yummy cooking going on, your dog may take an interest in the garbage can or countertop that he may not normally exhibit. We had a dog eat an entire roast chicken, foil and all, from the counter in the time it took his person to greet people at the front door. The garbage is full of unexpected treasure to a dog during the holidays. Eating fatty foods may set off a bout of pancreatitis, which can be painful and debilitating. A good precaution is to throw grease, drippings, dirty foil and wrappers directly into the outside garbage where your dog cannot reach it.
New Year's comes with its own issue of loud noises from champagne corks, fireworks, gunshots and general commotion as the new year starts. If you already know these loud noises drive your dog over the edge, call your veterinarian and see if a tranquilizer may be appropriate. If you are not sure how your dog may react, heralding in the New Year from the comfort of your home is a good way to see how your dog responds, and intervene if needed.
With a bit of forethought and preparation, both you and Chewy can have a great holiday season.
Photo Credit: @justabirddog