In the eyes of your dog(s), the Holidays are a time of change. Consider how Christmas looks to them:
- A tree, the likes of which they normally see outside, arrives inside the house. (“Great, an indoor bathroom!”) It is often set up in an area that breaks their outside watch position (blocking a picture window or doorwall).
- This odd inside tree also gets covered with really fun looking dangly things – which must be tasted and pushed around.
- Next, flashing lights will really stimulate many dogs, especially visual breeds such as herding dogs.
THEN, after the tree arrives, strange items appear underneath, with glittery ribbons and other tantalizing ornaments. These must be tasted and maybe removing the outer covering would be a lot of fun. My dogs can always find the gifts wrapped for them – these cannot be left under the tree!
The topper is your attitude during this fine season. We all know how stressful and rushed the holidays have become. It may look to your dog like you’ve really gone off the deep end this time!
Things you can do to minimize risk and maintain routine (which dogs need)
- Limit access to reachable decorated areas like trees, garland, candy on tables, etc. If necessary, use baby gates to block certain areas, crate your dog, or confine the dog to one room or the basement. Access to decorated areas should ONLY be allowed with supervision.
- Keep all routines the same: feeding times, outside times, walk/exercise times and bed time.
- Keep diet the same – resist offering extra table scraps, especially if your dog has difficulty tolerating dietary changes.
- If you are stressed, take advantage of what your dog can offer you in the stress relief area. Spend time grooming, walking or playing with you dog.
- If your dog ingests an ornament or other decoration, do not automatically induce vomiting. Sharp edges will cut and puncture on the way down AND on the way back up! Call your veterinarian for advice on how to handle the situation.
- If you must let your pet in an area of low-hanging ornaments, don’t decorate a tree with tinsel or any other stringy item. If ingested, these could require complicated surgery to remove. All ornaments should be kept higher than the dog is able to reach.
- Avoid adding anything potentially toxic to the water for your Christmas tree. Remember it’s at dog level and they may drink it.
Have a safe and Happy Holiday!