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Keep your dog safe this holiday season

A dog playing in the snow
AP Photo/Kerstin Joensson

This holiday season is a time for giving, holiday decorations, and presents--for more and more dogs. However, keep in mind that whether you are a gift giver or recipient, decorator or host, you must keep dogs safe throughout the holiday season.

Many seasonal dog toys on store shelves are of sub-standard quality and even a small puppy could quickly destroy it, exposing hazardous stuffing or string materials. Some toys are even made with glued-on eyes, easy to swallow pom-poms, or other parts that virtually any dog would happily chew off and swallow or play with, exposing themselves to danger.

Decorations such as holiday lights, garlands, candles, and fires in the fireplace can pose a danger to your furry friends, especially puppies who have an insatiable urge to chew on everything--new or old--in their environment.

How can you keep your dog and all visiting dogs safe this holiday season? Use uncommon sense. Put yourself in your dog's paws, at their eye-level, and consider whether a string of lights is placed too close to the ground, whether a dog could get strangled by a decorative garland, and/or whether glass tree ornaments will be irresistible to your canine friends. Also watch for burning candles low enough to set a wagging tail ablaze, an open fireplace door or a closed one that might be hot enough to burn a curious dog's nose.

Other things to watch for:

  • Don't leave your dog in a cold car for long
  • Don't buy or accept gifts of toys that contain dangerous, swallow-able parts
  • If you're used to leaving your dog alone in the house, remember that holiday decorations are a major new introduction to your dog's environment, therefore crating your dog when you can't monitor it closely is probably best until it learns the "new rules" for these holidays.
  • Don't leave bowls of nuts or chocolates on low tables, and make sure that any guests in your home know that chocolate and some nuts can be hazardous or deadly to dogs--a dog begging for a piece of chocolate must be ignored or given a dog treat instead.
  • Common holiday plants that are toxic to dogs
  • And many more things too numerous to list in one article
For more info: There is a great deal of additional information about pet safety available on the internet, and I encourage you to be safe, not sorry, and check out additional sources of safety information such as: