As soon as Thanksgiving is over, many families in the U.S. start decorating for Christmas. If you’re preparing to toss up some tinsel and string up colored lights, make sure that everything you’re adding is safe for your furry friend. There’s some misinformation out there about what is dangerous for dogs and what isn’t, so follow these tips for a safe dog Christmas.
Protect your pup from the Christmas tree
While many families choose natural Christmas trees for their look and smell, these traditional conifers can cause dogs serious health trouble. The water and pine needles from a Christmas tree can be mildly toxic to dogs. Although dogs rarely have serious complications from Christmas trees, vomiting fallen needles is fairly common. Artificial trees can also cause problems if dogs chew on or break off pieces of the tree. These can cause intestinal blockages and serious problems. Whether wood or artificial, it’s a good idea to not leave dogs unattended around the tree.
Ornaments cause another danger for your four-legged buddy. These exciting-looking items may seem like toys to your dog, but the ornaments are often glass or painted crafts and can lead to severe gastrointestinal blockages or lacerations if consumed.
Keep yarn, tinsel and ribbon out of their reach
These stringy decorations can look great hung above the mantle or along the walls, but if your pup tries to eat them, they may twist their intestines. These string-like items can cause blockages and twists that require surgery and may cause death. Additionally, ribbon should not be tied around a dog’s neck as a decoration. Dogs can choke themselves easily with the sharp, festive string. Ideally, you would just skip this step when it comes to decorating, but if you simply cannot imagine a tinsel-less Christmas, at least keep them out of reach.
Know which plants cause the most harm
Poinsettias are a holiday staple in many homes, but dog owners often don’t have them because they’re afraid they’re poisonous. However, as the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine explained, poinsettias aren’t actually very dangerous for pets. Their sap can cause dogs irritation, but they aren’t lethal.
Instead, holly and mistletoe are the real dangerous holiday plants. Holly is less dangerous than mistletoe, but can still cause significant trouble, including pain, vomiting and diarrhea. Mistletoe is particularly toxic and can be fatal in only a few hours, WSU warned. If your dog ingests mistletoe, call and rush them to the veterinarian. Instead, skip the mistletoe and find a new festive way to steal a kiss from that special someone.
Be smart with lights and candles
A string of lights on the tree or around the window can look great, but it also requires some caution. If dogs chew light strings that are plugged in, they can be burned, have difficulty breathing or possibly even die. Even if your pup isn’t a chewer, check the wires to ensure that they’re in good shape so that they don’t bump into the cord and get a shock.
Candles are another danger around the holidays. Unattended candles are a major fire hazard even for people without pets, but a dog may accidently knock over a candle and exacerbate the situation.
Similarly, potpourri and other scented liquids or solutions may be dangerous yet attractive to your dog. Keep those items out of reach and secure.
Watch your gift wrap supplies
Whether it’s bows, wrapping paper tubes or boxes, many wrapping materials look like toys to dogs. Don’t let them play with your supplies, however, as some materials may be toxic or cause blockages. Glue is particularly dangerous, as the smell is powerful, but the glue is often toxic. This is especially important when people are opening gifts.
Give your dog the gift of a PetPlus membership this holiday season, so that they’ll get all the medication, veterinary visits and treats they want without costing you an arm and a leg.