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Monday, June 24, 2024

A Merry Christmas with our dogs

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The holiday season is a joyful time for families, and that joy extends to our canine companions as well.

“It’s quite unlikely for your dog to know it’s Christmas but dogs do understand patterns quite well. They put together settings and associations and assume that this might happen again in the future. In the case of Christmas, it can be the decor changes, the presence of people they haven’t met before, joyful music, flashing lights, and a lot more,” said Dr. Jenny Davis in “Christmas Safety for Dogs” published in the Pet Parents website.

Many dogs eagerly participate in the festivities, engaging in playful antics such as snacking on Christmas treats or causing mischief around the decorated tree. While these moments can be entertaining, it is important to be aware of potential hazards that come with the holiday season. As Christmas approaches, you may be curious about ways to make sure your dog’s holiday is as cheerful and safe as yours.

• Dogs and Christmas trees

One of the most significant Christmas traditions is bringing a tree into your home, and for your dog, this can be a source of excitement. Your canine companion may view the tree as a treat to chew on. If you have a male dog, it might be seen as a convenient new spot for marking territory.

“While some pet owners may have dogs unfazed by the tree, others with more mischievous dogs may require a Christmas tree that is resistant to canine mishaps,” Davis noted.

Flash, rescued dog of Save Animals of Love and Light-Save ALL Inc., is healthy and happy even if he is not given human food from the dining table. Even on Christmas eve and New Year’s eve, he is given the kind of food that is safe for dogs, like boiled and grilled meat and vegetables, no spices and no salt please.

• Fairy lights

Dogs can find the twinkling lights on Christmas trees enticing. They see the wires as appealing chew toys. To avoid potential harm to your dog, a simple precaution is to secure loose wires with cable ties and disconnect the lights from the mains when leaving the house. If you prefer to leave the lights on, opt for battery-operated lights and make sure to place the battery pack out of reach from your dog.

• Hanging decorations

Ensure the safety of your Christmas tree from your dog by choosing only decorations that are safe. Steer clear of items that, if ingested, could lead to a blockage in your dog’s stomach.

Refrain from placing edible decorations like chocolates or candy canes on the tree, as they are extremely toxic to dogs and many dogs will find them irresistible.

• Tipping the Christmas tree over

If your dog enjoys playing with the Christmas tree, you’ll likely need a solution to prevent it from toppling over in your living room. The most effective method is to either buy a tree with a weighted base or add weights to the bottom to secure it. For an extra level of safety, you can also anchor it to the ceiling or wall.

• Presents under the tree

While a Christmas tree with wrapped gifts and festive bows is a delightful scene, it can be an irresistible temptation for your dog. To avoid any mishaps, keep the presents out of sight until the actual day. When the time comes, ensure your dog is supervised around the gifts. It is also advisable not to place your dog’s Christmas presents under the tree, as their curiosity might lead them to discover and explore the treats before the designated day.

Other dog Christmas hazards

The potential dangers during the festive season extend beyond just the Christmas tree; there are several other things to be vigilant about as well. According to Davis, the following hazards are to watch out for:

• Christmas food

Many Christmas food, such as chocolates, grapes, and raisins, can be poisonous or toxic to your dog. While some dog owners may consider sharing chicken or fish as a treat, these scraps can contain small bones that pose a danger. Always carefully inspect the meat before feeding it to your dog. If you plan to include your dog in the Christmas dinner, ensure that the food is safe for them to consume.

• Festive flowers

While festive plants and flowers add beauty to our homes, many of these plants can be harmful to dogs. Poinsettias is poisonous to dogs and cats. Commonly used in wreaths and arrangements,  eating and ingesting it can lead to stomach and mouth irritation. If opting for artificial versions, prevent your dog from biting or chewing on them to avoid potential blockages or stomach irritation.

• Visiting friends and family

With the likelihood of numerous friends and family visiting during the holidays, it can be overwhelming for your dog, especially if they’re not accustomed to it. Ensure they have a designated space away from the commotion, complete with blankets and access to food and water. This way, if the festivities become stressful for them, they have a quiet retreat.

About the Author: Niko Gabriel Salgado is a graduate of consular and diplomatic affairs from De La Salle College of Saint Benilde, and worked at the House of Representatives. He is now an entrepreneur and a volunteer of the animal welfare group Save Animals of Love and Light- Save ALL.

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