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Winchester, VA

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Christmas Safety Tips for Your Dog

Decorating your home and entertaining guests are some of the highlights of the Christmas season. But for your dog, that means new smells, sounds and people in your home. Dogs are naturally very curious, so you want to make sure you pet-proof your home to keep your dog safe for the holidays. Here are some tips for keeping your fur baby safe through the Christmas season.

Christmas Trees – Though a fresh, real Christmas tree may smell great, there could be some potential health risks to your dog. Live trees may contain mold spores that can cause respiratory problems or allergic reactions. If you’re spending your first Christmas with your pup, you can take a piece of your chosen tree and allow him or her to sniff it (under supervision) to see if there is any adverse reaction. If your dog doesn’t have a reaction within a few days, it is likely safe to put up a live tree. Place your tree in a corner where your dog has limited access to it. If you choose a small tree, put it up on a table. If you have a live tree, plastic wrap the base so that the dog doesn’t drink the water (it could contain fertilizers or other toxic compounds). Decorate with plastic or resin ornaments and avoid food-based decorations.

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Plants – Many holiday plants are toxic to dogs, including holly, poinsettias and mistletoe. Ingesting these plants can cause vomiting, diarrhea, heart complications or respiratory distress. It’s not worth the risk to keep these live plants in the house, so if you must have them to decorate, opt for the faux versions.

Toxic foods – In general, you want to avoid giving your pup special treats from your Christmas feast. Changing your dog’s diet can cause digestive issues. Specifically, you want to avoid feeding your dog chocolate, poultry bones, onions, grapes, raisins and alcohol. All of these foods have toxic effects on dogs. If you want to give your dog a treat, opt for one made for dogs.

Candles – Keep lit candles up and away from dogs. Wagging tails can send a candle flying and cause a major fire hazard. It’s even safer to use electric candles.

Choose safe gifts – If you plan to include your pet in gift giving this year, make sure you choose gifts that are dog-friendly and won’t pose a risk. Give size-appropriate dog toys. If you have a large dog and choose toys intended for a small breed, it could pose a choking risk. Read the ingredients in dog treats carefully to make sure there’s nothing your dog is allergic to. Finally, watch out for toys with small pieces that could break off and cause a choking hazard to your pup.

Keep holiday stress to a minimum – People aren’t the only ones who can get frazzled by the holiday hustle and bustle. With new people in and out of the house and commotion, your dog could get stressed out. Make sure your dog gets lots of walks and alone time to decompress during holiday festivities.

Let’s all stay safe and healthy for the holidays.

For more helpful tips and information, visit our library of blog articles!

Lisa Marino, CPDT-KA, KPA-CTP, PMCT, has taken her varied teaching experiences and applied them to helping owners understand and train their beloved four-legged family members. She has more than four years’ experience leading group dog training classes at Best Paw Forward in Hartland, WI, and opened Head of the Class Dog Training LLC in Winchester, VA in 2012, where she conducts group classes and private lessons, as well as helps owners to modify their dogs' problem behaviors.

Lisa earned her CPDT-KA in 2012, is a 2015 graduate of the prestigious Karen Pryor Academy and is a Pat Miller Certified Trainer.

She has 4 registered therapy dogs and is a Pet Partner Therapy Team Evaluator and a member of HOPE AACR. As a former middle school teacher, she works well with families and children and does school presentations on various dog related topics.