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Holiday Pet Safety Tips

January 13, 2023

holiday pet safety tips

The holidays are a busy time of year, to say the least. However, sometimes our pets bear the brunt of all that excitement, chaos, and changes in the daily routine. Did you know that veterinarian offices experience higher numbers of emergency pet visits this time of year? 

You won't be surprised to hear that some of the most common causes of emergency vet visits over the holidays are for things like ingesting foreign objects and decorations, car accidents, and severe digestive ailments resulting from dogs consuming their humans’ favorite holiday treats.

As we head into the holiday season this year, do your best to adhere to these five-holiday pet safety tips that will help to keep your beloved dog happy, healthy, and safe as we head into 2023.

5 Tips To Protect Your Dog From Holiday Emergencies

Here are five-holiday pet safety tips that are almost guaranteed to keep your pet (or your loved ones) out of the emergency room this holiday season. 

Use best practices when traveling with pets

Will you be traveling with your pets this season? Take extra precautions to keep your dog safe and secure while en route. This includes everything from doing your due diligence with airlines or Amtrak, adhering to their rules for pet travel to making sure your pet is safely secured in your own vehicle if you're driving.

Also, while out of town, make sure you have plenty of all the extras to keep your pet comfortable and occupied while in a new location. This includes access to plenty of fresh water, their own dog food (other brands can upset their tummy), a familiar bed or blanket, favorite toys, treats and  chewies - ensuring there are enough for any other dogs that may be present. If your dog has a crate, Be sure to bring that along as well because you never know when your dog may need a safe space to be alone, separated from other dogs, or separated from your host’s cat.

Watch your dog carefully around holiday decorations & presents

Until your dog learns otherwise, all those holiday decorations just look like a big gift of extra toys and chewies.  As a result, dogs are at risk of eating holiday tree ornaments including their hooks, which a veterinarian must surgically remove. Holiday ribbons, greenery, wrapping paper, and freshly-opened presents are also theirs for the taking if their human companions aren't paying close attention. Also, avoid using any chemical  or ingredient enhanced tree fresheners in your trees watering container. Using plain water ensures that a thirsty dog doesn't take a toxic drink.

Keep an eye on your dog while decorating your tree and home - or while around new decorations at someone else’s home. Whenever possible keep the lowest branches out of a dog’s reach. If that's not possible, watch closely and immediately redirect any interest in the tree, its ornaments, or the presents underneath so the dog quickly learns that those are off-limits - the same way they learned not to chew your furniture, clothing, or shoes when you first brought them home. You can also place an exercise pen around the Christmas tree. 

Of course, we know you can't keep an eye on your dog 24-7. So, it's helpful to know the signs of abdominal obstruction, which would indicate an immediate visit to the vet is needed:

  • Repetitive vomiting
  • Hunching or whining 
  • Bloating 
  • Unusual tenderness around the abdomen
  • Loss of appetite or inability to drink or keep water down
  • Inability to defecate normally
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness

 Call your veterinarian immediately if you notice any of these signs.

Stick to the normal dog diet routine

The holidays also mean greater access to human food treats, which can be a disaster for dogs.  In fact, veterinarians report higher cases of a disease called pancreatitis this time of year due to dogs ingesting far too much sugar from their human companions’ holiday treat offerings. Keep your dog's diet consistent no matter how much you're tempted to give them extra table scraps.

Try not to leave tables full of food unattended to prevent the temptation for dogs that can jump up or jump on the table to have their own holiday feast. Again, your dog's crate can be a great ally this time of year.

Create a quiet space for your dog

Dogs can become just as excited as humans. However, their actions or behaviors may not be desirable to their human companions. An overexcited or stressed dog is prone to:

  • Excessive barking or whining
  • Destructive behaviors
  • Escaping enclosures, especially if you're in a new location or staying in somebody else's house.
  • Urinating and defecating in the house, or somebody else's house, regardless of being completely housebroken at home (bell training ahead of time can help when you’re staying in unfamiliar environments).
  • Unusual  or heightened aggression

The best thing you can do to support your dog's well-being and the well-being of the humans around your dog is to create a safe quiet space. This could be an unused room or bathroom, it might be your car if the weather is warm enough for it, or it might be the kennel or crate your dog is already accustomed to. This should not be viewed as a punishment but rather the calm, quiet space your dog needs to keep herself and others safe.

Have emergency pet contacts available to help maintain holiday pet safety

If you've hired a pet sitter, make sure they have access to your veterinarian's phone number and address. It's also worthwhile to list at least one or two emergency vet hospitals in the area just in case. If you're traveling with your pet out of town, do your homework and have two to three local veterinarian contacts readily available in case of an emergency. 

One more piece of advice if you'll be staying in other people's home with your dog; you may want to connect with dog boarding facilities in their area ahead of time or have a list of pet-friendly hotels with vacancies at the ready. I've heard of many examples over the years of people whose dogs did not get along with others’ dogs, cats, small children, or the mix of holiday guests. So it's always best to have a back-up plan in case staying in their home with your dog becomes an option.

Alternative Canine Training Wishes You & Your Dogs Happy Holidays

The team at Alternative Canine Training wishes your human and dog family a very safe and happy holiday season. We hope these holiday pet safety tips help you prepare for the next couple of months.

Would you like some dog training refreshers before you head out of town or host that next big holiday gathering? Contact us to schedule a one-on-one or group training session. We can help you prepare your dog for the most common holiday triggers.

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